Yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it doesn't make relationships easier.
There's something so undeniably tragic about falling in love long distance. And while living a few hours apart or across the state might seem like an inconvenient trek, I'm talking about the kind of distance that makes weekly — or even monthly — meetings virtually impossible. Let's face it: Keeping a normal relationship moving forward can already feel like a huge challenge, but when you find yourself falling for someone who lives far away, it can feel like the challenges are insurmountable.
Long-distance relationships have garnered quite the bad rep for being pretty much impossible, but most of us at least know a friend of a friend whose cousin was in a long-distance relationship that actually ended up working out. Can a man fall in love long-distance? It is possible! It's just rare. Both parties just have to be in it to win it.
When I met my current boyfriend, it was pretty much clear from the start that we were both just in it for some fun. After all, he was only in town for a couple of weeks and I was coming off a particularly exhausting number of dating app dates that had me one step away from joining a convent. But we all know how it goes — it's all fun and games until someone catches feelings. And fortunately for me, the feelings were mutual. But — like most long-distance couples — our oxytocin-steeped brains convinced us that the distance would be nothing compared to the intensity of our three-week love affair, and we figured the only solution was to try to give it our all.
We learned quite a bit about long-distance relationships and ourselves along the way, and here’s what you should know if you’re in one.
You Need To Make Solid Plans
It's true, folks. Being in love with someone you can't touch is an agonizing experience, both mentally and physically... especially when you don't have a firm plan for how often you will realistically be able to see each other. And it’s even more difficult if neither of you are strong communicators. "A long-distance relationship is not only logistically challenging; it is extremely psychologically challenging," clinical psychologist and co-host of The K and K Radio Show Dr. Joshua Klapow previously told Elite Daily. "If you and your partner struggle with communication, transparency, [or] if your expectations about how much you will be together are off... you will create a level of psychological tension in the relationship that ultimately will be its demise."
My boyfriend and I learned early on that if things were going to work out between us, we would need to have the date of our next reunion on the calendar every time we said our goodbyes. Even if it was months away, I found that having a finite amount of time you're going to be apart alleviated a lot of psychological distress and fear.
You Need to Communicate Often
Another thing that can happen when you're in a long-distance relationship are lapses in communication, which is totally normal considering all of the complexities involved. You have to consider scheduling Skype dates (possibly even in different time zones), actually being able to Skype at the agreed-upon time, feeling so sad that you aren't together but not wanting to take up your limited time wallowing — the list goes on and on. But these things don't have to get in the way of keeping the connection alive, which is why it's so important to find the right amount of communication that works for the both of you.
"Communicate often but not constantly," said Dr. Klapow. "Trying to make up the time you are not together by talking, emailing, texting, FaceTiming constantly simply creates a level of expectation that can’t be sustained." He recommended you "talk daily" or "text once or twice" a day, but remember that — for the time being — you both have lives that are somewhat separate from each other. Instead of focusing on how sad that is, try to focus on how awesome it is that you found someone so amazing that made you want to beat the odds.
You Need to Understand Your Situation
Ultimately, I think the saddest thing that can happen in a long-distance relationship is the crushing realization that neither one of you can or is willing to move, which is why it's so important to consider from the start if there is a realistic possibility that one of you can relocate. If the answer is no, then you both have to be OK with knowing that you will be committing to basically being pen pals who meet up from time to time. Falling for someone who lives far away doesn't mean you can't make things work — it just means that you're going to have to put in a lot of effort and resources without any guarantees.
It’s also possible to date non-exclusively long-distance. But as with every non-monogamous or open relationship, it’s important to move forward with clarity and honesty. “What often happens is that one partner agrees to the open long-distance relationship in order to hang on to the relationship," Dr. Klapow previously told Elite Daily. "If you are going to be long distance and you are going to agree to date other people, then your relationship is only as deep and committed as your feelings for each other."
Distance tends to complicate things, but if you and your SO are committed to make things work no matter how far apart you are, then there’s no reason why you can’t go the distance.
Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and co-host of The K and K Radio Show
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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