Back when my boyfriend and I were getting to know each other, he mentioned that he’s planning to work on a cruise, away from the Philippines. It was a bad sign, I thought, as I wasn’t expecting to enter a relationship where the other person is on the other side of the world. It took me a lot of courage to accept but, after our first year, I let him pursue his dream and we’ve been on a long-distance relationship since then.
Many people I meet ask: how do you make it work? It’s a hard question that has subjective answers. So, I asked a few people who were and are LDR with their partners as to how they manage their relationships. Here’s what they have to say.
Understand and manage your expectations
Alvin has been a seafarer for many years and met his girlfriend, Clarissa, while he was on vacation. During most of their relationship, Alvin has been onboard and the internet connection in some areas they go to can be pretty challenging which makes it hard for them to communicate at some point.
“Being in a long-distance relationship needs a lot of patience and you have to help each other in managing your partner’s expectations. Understand that there will be times where you won’t be able to communicate properly given the busy schedules or different time zones. But don’t let it happen most of time – sacrifice and make up for it,” he says.
“Have a room for empathy. The farther your partner is, the lesser the common ground between the two of you so always give a room for understanding,” shares Clarissa.
Always have quality communication
Probably the aspect that a couple has to really work on when they’re in a long-distance relationship is quality communication. It’s more about the deep connection with your partner despite the distance than just talking.
Yrda, 22, met her boyfriend in their church back when she was in college, but his family migrated to San Francisco, California. Since then, they’ve been LDR for three years and only meet for two months every year.
But distance and communication were never an issue for this couple.
“No matter how much time difference you have, always have that communication. Time difference should not be an issue in the first place to communicate. As the saying goes ‘if there’s a will, there’s a way,’ and I think it’s one of the pillars of our relationship,” Yrda shares.
Don’t forget the special occasions
Minka, 22, who’s also in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend for seven years believes that it’s important to take note of the happenings relevant to you as a couple, even the smallest ones.
“It’s sad enough that you don’t get to be physically there for each other every day, so you need to compensate for that by celebrating together in any way possible. Keep each other updated about the major events of your days while you’re apart; greet each other during your monthsaries, anniversaries, and other milestones,” she shares.
Always celebrate with your partner whatever the occasion is. There may be an absence of gifts and flowers, but a sincere greeting from a loved one can be as heartwarming.
Keep yourself busy
Sunny, 21, is currently in LDR for more than a year with his boyfriend who is working as a chef in a hotel in London. She met him back in college and, eventually, he had to pursue his career abroad after graduation. Although it was hard for them to adjust at first because of different schedules, Sunny keeps herself busy with her work while her boyfriend’s not available to chat with.
“It’s best if you indulge yourself in one to many hobbies. What’s one thing that you can treat positively in a long-distance relationship is that you will have time for yourself. Occupying yourself takes you away from thinking too much and will take away the stress,” she says.
When he’s busy or sleeping, it’s best to do something that will keep you busy. Go out with friends, read books, travel, play games, or binge-watch TV series – do something that will keep your mind away from overthinking.
Trust is a must
Given the lack of proximity in LDRs, there comes the fear of your partner finding another person which potentially leads to jealousy, suspicion, and paranoia.
Maelyn, 28, met his husband back when he was working as a seaman. After he finished one of his contracts and disembarked, they got married and currently on a long-distance relationship. Maelyn believes that trust is a fundamental aspect in their relationship and also the key to why it succeeded and led to marriage.
“You need to trust your partner that he’s there for work,” Maelyn says, “If you always doubt them that they will cheat on you or find someone better than you, both of you will always end up having conflicts, throwing hateful words towards each other which can be really toxic. In return, do not break your partner’s trust in you. It goes both ways.”
Commit yourselves as a couple
Engaging in a long-distance relationship takes double the patience, trust, communication, among other things. It’s a different kind of commitment that not everyone may not be capable of.
It’s also imperative to look forward to what happens next in your relationship and work together for that goal.
Jo, 55, was also LDR for four years with her then-boyfriend now-husband. Her husband, Jovi, worked as a bank secretary in Saudi back in the 90s. The couple had misunderstandings and even went “cool off” in the middle of their relationship but eventually got back together. Jo followed him after some time and worked as a cashier in the same country, where they soon got married. The couple has been married for 23 years.
“Being in a committed relationship means that there is a shared intention to get married and be together forever. Commitment to each other involves love, trust, honesty, and openness,” says Jo.
“When you’re committed and you want to grow old together, you will get through all the challenges in the relationship even if it means being far away from that person,” comments Jovi.
It takes both sides to make every kind of relationship work. It is a give and take process. Although there are cases where LDRs end up failing, it can still work—but maybe only for some. After all, it’s about finding the right person who can commit and is truly willing to make the relationship last regardless of the distance.