Relationships take work. Whether you're 5, 500 or 5,000 miles apart, the *DJ Khaled voice* MAJOR KEYS to making a relationship work are based around trust, communication and having a life outside of the relationship.
I spent about 80 percent of my college career in a long-distance relationship. Now, you are probably thinking one of two things: Was I crazy spending the best years of my life with some ball and chain from another state? Or, it's just so sweet that I was loyal while being so far apart.
Even though we went our separate ways after three years, I had enough time to understand just how much effort goes into a long-distance relationship, and how it can require you to take a good look at yourself.
Here are eight lessons I learned from my failed long-distance relationship:
1. Trust your partner.
Obviously, trust is one of the foundations of any relationship. However, it is even more crucial when you and your partner can't spend as much time together physically.
One of the first things I learned from being in a long-distance relationship was how to trust my partner, not just for the sake of my own sanity, but for the betterment of the relationship.
A lack of trust leads to worry, accusations and an exertion of unnecessary energy that should be used toward improving your bond... or sleeping, as this worry can lead to many sleepless nights.
Instead of living my life in the moment, I would worry what my partner was doing, the choices he was making or who he was hanging out with.
Learning to trust him not only helped our relationship, but it helped my relationship with myself. I practiced letting go of all the concerns I had and focused on what I was doing, until it became second nature.
2. Trust yourself.
In the process of learning to trust my partner, I also learned to trust myself. If something were to happen, I knew I couldn't blame myself if I didn't “check in,” and I couldn't blame myself for the decisions he made.
All I could do was try to be the best partner I could and hope he would do the same.
Learning to trust yourself while you're in a relationship will also help you in the long run when you want to branch out and try new things in your own life — you will know how to give it your all.
Trusting yourself will also help protect you. If things don't work out because your partner was unfaithful, you will be able to understand it's not your fault, as long as you put in a solid effort.
3. Get a life.
Have a life outside of your relationship.
Surrounding yourself with friends and family not only provides the support that's missing when you aren't with your SO, but it also provides distractions and opportunities to explore other relationships you may have put on hold while you're busy with your own relationship.
4. Communication is key.
It's nice to be asked about how your day went, to be told someone is thinking about you or to be told someone misses you. Don't forget to reciprocate those thoughts. Communicating about the details is just as important as the big things.
So when you live far from your partner, it can be tough to find time to talk. If this is the case, coordinate a day and time that works for both of you to have a nice long chat, instead of just texting or calling when you can.
5. Be patient.
A great skill to have in general, patience goes hand in hand with communication and trust. And exploding every single time someone doesn't answer a phone call or text you back right away will take years off your life.
Practicing mindfulness (i.e. being more aware, regulating your breathing or meditating) is one of the best ways to increase your patience. Then, you'll likely be able to decrease the amount of arguments you and your partner have.
You'll be able to take a step back, remain calm and assess the situation without being overwhelmed by your emotions.
6. You have to make sacrifices.
Not the ritualistic kind (hopefully), but you will have to make some sacrifices of your time.
If you planned to call your partner at 6 pm on a Thursday but your co-workers want to go to happy hour after work, you have to make the call about which is more important.
And sometimes, happy hour is more important. It's all about balance after all.
But you might have to make sacrifices in other areas as well, like making time to drive across a state to see your partner for the weekend, or spending that extra cash you were saving on a plane ticket to visit them for the holidays.
7. Don't be so hard on yourself.
No relationship is easy 24/7. And anyone who says otherwise is lying and has probably never been in a serious relationship.
If you find yourself wanting to turn your phone off for the night and just watch a movie with friends, you are allowed to. Even though you are apart, don't feel guilty for rescheduling your designated time to talk so you can go to that sample sale downtown.
You will make it up to each other eventually; don't worry.
8. You'll have an easier breakup.
I'm not not telling you your long-distance relationship won't last. After all, distance (sometimes) makes the heart grow fonder.
BUT, speaking from experience, if you ever find yourself at the point where you are over it, this is the easiest way out.
The best part about long-distance is you don't have to worry about running into them at the bar every weekend or battle the urge to drive past their house late at night.
You get a clean slate and a fresh start without even moving, which I found to be the easiest way to move on.
So, what have we learned here? Relationships take work if you want them to work. Talk things out, make time for yourself, practice patience and, most importantly, practice trust.