6 Important Lessons I Learned From Long Distance Relationships

If you have been in a long distance relationship, chances are you are pretty damn bitter about the idea of doing it again. Or you still are and it is (surprisingly) easy and wonderful. Or you still are and it is (unsurprisingly) difficult and awful. Maybe you “never did that shit and never will,” but you know someone who has and the collateral damage was enough to scare you for life.

Here is where I drop the bomb that may make you leave this page (but I really hope it doesn’t): I am on my third L.D.R. I know, I know, you would think after not one, but two failed L.D.Rs I would learn my lesson and date someone who lives in my time zone. Truth is, I did learn many lessons – none of which make me any less inclined to continue with the relationship I am in currently.

Granted, this L.D.R. is temporary (I am taking time off from school with the plan to return in a few months), but that does not make the 900 miles separating my boyfriend and I any easier to forget. What does make it easier, however, is modern technology – Durex even made vibrating underwear that can be controlled by your partner via an iPhone app! I would even venture to say that being in an L.D.R improved me both individually and as half of a couple.

Here are the reasons why.

1. I learned how to communicate the right way

When you are miles away from your S.O., communication is key. My first long-distance boyfriend was a Stage Five Clinger (and that is putting it nicely). He called three or four times a day, would flip out if I took too long to answer a text, and kept me on the phone until the wee hours of the morning. On the other end of the spectrum, my second long-distance boyfriend would go all day without contacting me, send a text or two before going out, then disappear once he was drunk enough to forget he even had a girlfriend in the first place. Both of these approaches are completely unhealthy, and can cause more harm than good to your relationship. Set a “catch-up” time with your S.O., whether it is a nightly phone call, a text after work/class, or Skype dates at the end of a busy week.

2. I learned how to be alone

Duh! Your significant other will always be with you in spirit, but that does not make up for the fact that you will spend countless days and nights entertaining yourself. This time alone can be extremely enlightening, and, if approached with positivity, can be a period of self-discovery. Want to learn a new instrument/language/dance move? Here’s your chance! Is your ass punishing you for that extra piece of pie? Join a gym! Need to work on breaking 10,000 tweets? You can do that, too! I am not saying that it is impossible to do these things with your partner a short drive or walk away, but they can sure occupy your time when they aren’t.

3. I learned how to trust (and distrust).

You may be wondering how the latter is positive, and why I grouped it with the former. Well, in all honesty, being wary in a relationship is healthy. I am not saying you should be hounding your partner and stalking their every move, but you should have a certain level of self-respect and be able to pick up on when they are not being loyal or trustworthy. Two out of the three guys I dated long distance were complete douchebags.

In other words, they both cheated on me. Numerous times. And almost every time, I neglected the “bad feeling” I had and ended up kicking myself for it later. I guess what I am trying to say is do not let the distance throw off your loser lens – if the asshole alert is going off, chances are it is not a drill.

To counter that, do not, do not, do NOT be a babysitter. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt. If you really cannot do that, then you probably should not be doing the long distance thing anyway.

4. I learned all about modern technology’s awesome and terrifying nature.

Here is the great thing about your phone/laptop/desktop/tablet: It can be used to communicate! *Oohs and Aahs* When you are not using these nifty gadgets to procrastinate, they can be perfect for helping relationships grow and thrive. Things like Skype and FaceTime make it easy to see your S.O.’s shining smile whenever your little heart desires, and iMessage and Facebook chat take the wait out of emails and snail mail. You can even see when they are ignoring you (read receipts) or taking too long to lie about their whereabouts! In all seriousness, modern technology makes it pretty damn difficult to whine about not talking to/seeing your beau. It can also, however, be a double-edged sword.

Sunday morning, you log on to Facebook and gasp! There is a picture of your man with his hand on “some skank’s” waist! To the chopper! We have all gotten inexplicably and irrationally pissed off over a picture or “like/retweet/favorite” – hell, I sure have. I mean, how dare they go out and meet new people! That’s against relationship rules, right? WRONG. Take a breath and realize that you are not the God of your S.O.’s life, like some sick-and-twisted game of Sims. They WILL be in pictures and chances are you will, too. Now, if the picture was taken at a strip club in Vegas when you thought they were at Granny’s funeral, then, of course, flip the shit. Otherwise, take a chill pill and learn to get over it.

5. I learned that the world is a very, very big place…

My first L.D.R. was with a guy who lived five minutes away from me, but he went to college in upstate New York (about 30 minutes west of Rochester). While Rochester is far from being an exotic locale, trips to visit my now-ex-boyfriend showed me parts of upstate New York that I never even thought about in the 17 years I spent living on Long Island.

Now, I am dating a man from northern Virginia who takes trains everywhere and anywhere in the country, and it has given much such a lust for travel. Whether you are visiting your S.O. in a new city, doing some exploring on your own, or spending vacations traveling with your partner, being in a L.D.R. can be a great excuse to go to new places.

6. …but I also learned just how small the world can be.

I am sure you have heard the saying “It’s a small world” more times than you care to admit. As my dad always says (and I have grown to realize the validity of this quite recently) – “Old sayings are old because they are usually true.” Now I know that I did not have to be in a LDR in order to learn this, it sure as hell helped. You never know who your SO knows, and definitely cannot control everything that comes out of someone’s mouth. Be smart, and don’t give anyone anything negative to talk about.

While I am sure that I still have a lot to learn in the way of relationships (long-distance or not), I can comfortably say that I have come a long way since that first train-wreck I put myself through at 16-years-old. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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