Should We Do Long-Distance? 7 Signs Your Relationship Is Strong Enough To Survive
Although I once found myself in a long-distance relationship that spanned four years, my partner and I never had the luxury of asking ourselves, "Should we do long-distance?" Our relationship had been long-distance from the start, which felt a lot like wading through the dark in a strange house. We constantly bumped into problems we weren't prepared for, like deciding on the perfect travel schedule to accommodate our new relationship. I used all of my breaks from college to visit my partner but he rarely took time off to visit me. If we had dated in person before doing long-distance, I would have factored the inflexibility of his schedule into my decision to take the LDR plunge.
If you and your partner are currently thinking of doing long-distance — for example, because you are moving away for school or work — there are few things you should consider first. Can you afford to travel back and forth to see your partner? Do you get frustrated when you can't get in touch with your partner for long periods of time? While the answers to these questions might not be relationship deal-breakers, they're worth discussing at length with your partner before you decide that you're ready for a long-distance relationship.
According to relationship coach Adam Maynard, there are seven ways you can tell if your relationship is strong enough to go the distance.
1. You And Your Partner Have Excellent Communication Skills
Is it just me or do long-distance couples actually keep in touch way more frequently than more traditional couples do? My former partner and I spoke constantly via text and social media, which helped make up for all the time we spent apart.
Of course, you and your partner don't have to talk to each other all the time if you don't want to. It's totally up to you to decide how often you want to talk to each other and which platforms work best for you, as long as you're communicating.
No physical contact means that things like touch and body language cues aren't at your disposable so you should feel comfortable using your words to open up to your partner.
Maynard adds, "The ability to effectively speak up about and work through the problems that will inevitably arise in a long-distance relationship is one of the most important skills far away partners can have." It doesn't help to be passive-aggressive or to give your partner the silent treatment in the middle of an argument because long-distance relationships rely heavily on verbal and written communication.
2. You Have A Mutual Goal In Sight
Ultimately, I think this is where my relationship fell apart. My partner and I were together for the right reasons but we didn't have similar visions in mind for our future together. Before you get into a long-distance relationship, you should have a clear idea why long-distance is the best option for you and your partner at the time and how you intend to get through it.
Maynard tells Elite Daily, "Knowing how the long-distance arrangement fits into your shared long-term goals is essential for navigating the distance successfully. You know what purpose the time apart is serving, and the fact that you are both working toward the same end goal motivates you to endure the difficult parts.”
This doesn't always mean that one of you should have definitive plans to move to the other and a deadline by which to do so. My partner's parents were actually in a long-distance marriage at the time and had been for about 10 years with no end in sight. What's important is that you and your partner agree on wherever you see things going. If you intend to live apart indefinitely (I did, but my partner did not), both you and your partner need to be on board.
3. You Respect Each Other
This is a given in any relationship but it's especially important for long-distance relationships. Living separately means you will both lead very different lives that include different people and different interests, and you need to be OK with that. According to Maynard, “If you know your partner respects you on a fundamental level, you’ll feel more at ease navigating the uncertainty that comes with maintaining the relationship from afar. You’ll know they admire and value you enough to not do anything that might hurt you.” They should be able to expect the same from you.
4. You Enjoy Spending Time Apart
"It goes without saying that long-distance relationships require, well, time apart. If you already have periods where you’re each comfortable doing your own thing, the forced separation that comes from shifting to distance won’t be such a shock," Maynard says. As long as you and your partner are able to lead happy, fulfilling lives outside of your relationship, you'll be just fine.
5. You Don't Have Trust Issues
Being in a long-distance relationship means not always knowing how your partner spends their day, which will inevitably infuriate you if you don't trust them. Ideally, Maynard advises, "You need to know that your partner is factoring your feelings and the health of the relationship into the decisions they’re making, or you’ll doubt the relationship even when there’s no real reason to." If you already have a hard time dealing with relationship insecurities, long-distance will only make things worse.
6. You Never Compare Your Relationship To Your Friends'
Particularly if you're in college, it can be hard not having your partner around when all of your friends are coupled up on campus. In a moment of weakness, you might even question whether or not your long-distance relationship is worth the hassle. The truth is that every relationship is different. Just because another couple is lucky enough to live in the same residence hall doesn't necessarily mean they're happy.
7. You Are Emotionally Independent
Maynard explains, "Relationships that tend to fare better long-distance are ones where partners are less emotionally dependent on one another." If you rely solely on your partner for emotional support, you might have an extraordinarily difficult time being away from them. This also puts a lot of pressure on your partner to live up to expectations that might be impossible to meet without being able to see you and hold you.
On the other hand, Maynard says, "If both partners have a strong sense of themselves (what they want and need, and how to get it) and rely less on their partners to support them in ways that can ultimately be taxing, they’ll be able to more successfully maintain the relationship."
Long-distance relationships are never easy. Before you and your partner commit to the idea, be honest with yourselves about whether or not you think your relationship can withstand the challenge.