You're in a relationship with the love of your life, when you discover you need to continue your romance long distance. You promise to keep in touch, you promise to stay true, but as time goes by the calls and emails taper off and you start to feel like you're drifting apart. How do you keep the love alive? Here are 10 long-distance relationship killers to steer clear of.
1. Don't be a green-eyed monster. Paolo Pineda, a 32-year-old fashion photographer, says, "If you don't trust the guy to begin with, the relationship won't work from day one. You will never know if the guy is doing something crazy and you might just end up going crazy thinking about it." Beware of falling into the vicious cycle of long-distance relationship jealousy. Paolo cautions, "Never compensate by doing something stupid to just get even."
2. Don't keep your partner in the dark. It can be difficult to keep each other updated long distance about all the little things going on in your daily lives, but no matter how busy you become, take the time to have meaningful conversations or send sweet surprises.
When your partner starts to feel like he's left out, not involved, or no longer important in your life, it can drive a wedge in your relationship. Reflecting on the demise of his past relationship, Paolo shares, "[The culprit was] not really jealousy or not much time together. I think it's more of not being able to see, share, and feel the other person's experience."
For new relationships, communication is extremely important for its growth. Teà Villamor*, a thirty-something editor who is currently navigating unchartered whirlwind long-distance territory with a jetsetting executive, shares, "Because Philippe wasn't based here, at first I wasn't really thinking that anything would come of it. But he was great at keeping communication lines open, like emails and calls every day. Communication is key."
3. Don't hold each other back. This can only lead to resentment. Shares Paolo, "Demanding too much of each other's time and spending most of your nights/days on Skype rather than living your life wherever you are is very unhealthy. Try to live your life fully as an individual, but a committed one. Take advantage of your alone time by focusing on the things you've always wanted to achieve."Says Teà, "You have to balance having a life of your own, but also have something in common with him, which is difficult because you're not together."
4. Don't do anything you wouldn't want your partner to do. You're only human, and it's natural to be attracted to other people. But it's what you do about it that matters.Shares 32-year-old Mariel Chua Jimenez, who left to work in New York while her then-boyfriend (and now husband) Alvin stayed in Manila: "What worked for me was not going out clubbing and limiting my interactions with new people. My logic was if I didn't put myself in a situation where I could meet somebody, then I wouldn't meet somebody who could potentially be a threat in our relationship... And when I did start to develop crushes here and there, the above strategy worked because it set boundaries and nipped things in the bud."
5. Don't go MIA during fights. Make sure to hear each other out before changing your relationship status in your social media universe on the basis of a single rumor."Fighting in a long-distance relationship is the worst nightmare!" says Paolo. "First, you are very helpless. If the other person shuts you down you cannot do anything. Second, it's so expensive to fight over the phone. The only good thing is, you have more time [to collect your thoughts]. The only way to resolve things is to give each other time to cool down so you are both more reasonable, open-minded, and understanding [when seeing the situation from your partner's point of view]."
6. Don't entertain doubts. Teà shares, "Doubts can undermine a relationship—especially if it is not firmly established yet. You begin to wonder if the two of you are right for each other, if it would be better to just end it and find someone where you both are. You also begin to wonder if you're actually compatible or whether or not it's just the romance of being so far from each other that is keeping the relationship going..."
Have faith in your partner, but especially in yourself, so that you don't sabotage your own relationship with bouts of insecurity. Tea adds: "I think it really takes maturity to embark on a long distance relationship; and also, a resolve that you want to be with this person no matter what, to keep it going."
7. Don't blow things out of proportion. Multiply doubts by an overactive imagination or a comment taken out of context, and your relationship is practically doomed. Mariel shares, "I still remember what a friend told me: Know what's real and what's not real."
Teà shares, "The thing with long-distance relationships is that you tend to dwell/magnify problems that might not be that serious, but become serious precisely because you can't talk about it face to face. And because you essentially lead separate lives, there's a tendency to put your partner in the sidelines until your allotted time together, and that can create issues." If you feel like a situation is eating at you or getting out of hand, address it right away, and be done with it. Don't dredge it up again the next time you fight.
8. Don't forget that the relationship has to evolve. Shares Paolo, "Sometimes, the hardest part is not the time you guys are apart, but how you guys are going to be after the distance."
The saddest thing is when you can't recognize each other after being reunited; or worse, when one has changed drastically, and the other remains exactly the same, and you realize you're not on the same page anymore. The key is to keep sharing your experiences so you continue to feel like an important part of each other's life; and to keep striving to grow so that you both bring something new to the relationship.
9. Don't give up. Mariel and Alvin's deal was that he was supposed to follow her to the US after a year, but financial setbacks stretched that period to four years. "After the first year, I continued to cycle through these moments that also came with despair and anxiety. Fortunately, Alvin was very steadfast and unwavering in his love and commitment. I am forever grateful that he never gave up on me or indulged me during my moments and phases of doubt."
10. Don't be a stranger. Paolo shares that if he could've done things over, he would have visited his (ex-) girlfriend more often. He swears, "I'll never do another long-distance relationship, because next time, I won't let her go, or I'll be going wherever she goes."
Mariel shares, "In the four years we were apart, I went home twice for four months each and those 'sabbaticals' really helped. When I lost my job in New York one year, it was actually a blessing because it gave me a chance to come home and be with Alvin. Had I not been let go at that job, we probably wouldn't be married now," says Mariel, who is now a senior copywriter and beauty blogger.
"Now we're both based in New York—and our doggie too—it was all worth it!" Mariel notes that the secret to their successful long-distance relationship is not love alone, but "the decision to love and to stay committed. My faith and prayer also pulled me through those times I felt alone in NYC. Plus, Alvin and I can be silly and make each other laugh. Long-distance relationships are challenging, so if you are able to communicate on the same platform and make each other happy, no matter the distance, that helps make the logistics easier."*not her real name