I entered my first serious relationship at the ripe age of thirty. It was an unconventional
courtship whose beginning stages of friendship blossomed into a romance through the
private messaging system of a public forum. The situation was both unexpected and
less than ideal, yet we managed to overcome the geographical hindrance until he was
able to move here almost two years later. Although our subsequent engagement did not
culminate in marriage (I severed our relationship due to factors that had nothing
to do with the miles that initially separated us), I garnered valuable lessons in
nurturing and sustaining a long-distance connection.
It is absolutely imperative that you be transparent with your partner, especially
if your experience of one another has predominantly been limited to online interactions.
Do not attempt to impress your love interest. Strive to portray yourself as accurately
as possible, sharing with him/her not only your strengths, but your weaknesses, shortcomings,
and fears. Ask pertinent questions to acquire a better understanding of what your
partner is like in their daily lives and under varying circumstances. What is their
demeanor when they are unhappy? How do they respond when provoked to anger? What do
they do to calm themselves when they are nervous? How do they behave when they are
ill or in physical pain? Likewise, offer this information in regard to yourself. While
it is true that you will spend a lifetime learning about your spouse and that there
are marked differences between online/phone conversations and face-to-face meetings,
your online personality should be as close to your offline one as possible. Avoid
at all costs any stark, unpleasant contrasts.
In the same vein, do not fear asking direct, personal inquiries in order to determine
long-term compatibility. Do you share the same values? Are you of the same mind in
regard to children, finances, religion? Romance is indeed wonderful, yet you cannot
allow yourself to become so caught up in its enchantments that you ignore the factors
that determine a relationship's success. Ask (and answer) the difficult, uncomfortable
Even if you and your sweetheart lived in the same city and enjoyed the advantages
of a conventional courtship for a time, it is nevertheless easy to succumb to a spirit
of distrust if you are suddenly led way from one another due to career changes, educational
opportunities, or other obligations.
You cannot see your partner; your affection is limited to letters (be they
old fashioned or electronic), phone calls, and the occasional visit. However, unless
you are otherwise given evidence to the contrary, trust your partner. Believe the
best of the one you care for. If a situation arises and causes you legitimate concern,
gently and lovingly address it.
Please be aware that misunderstandings easily arise when using instant messaging programs
and emails. If you are tempted to react negatively to a seemingly injurious or offensive
statement made by your partner, control your instincts and ask what they meant by
their comments instead. You will find that much of the time, your mate's intentions
were not to wound you. This will save you from many unnecessary arguments.
Communication and Priorities
Your partner and the nurturing of your relationship should be your priority. It is
crucial that you maintain consistent and routine communication irrelevant of any demands
on your time. There will be days when you may only be able to type a one line email,
yet you must not underestimate the potency of an "I love you."
Define goals and expectations. If you wish to be together, you cannot afford to be
nebulous, for this is conducive to procrastination. It is not enough to say, "We want
to be together some day." You must brainstorm and establish concrete plans that will
transport you from mere daydreaming to actual results. Give yourselves a timeline
in which you want to accomplish all of this.
You need not limit your expressions of love to emails and telephone calls (although
I find that the latter is the next best thing to sharing the same space!) There are
other creative ways to nourish and sustain your love across the miles:
*Send care packages and write old fashioned letters.
*Invest in webcams.
*Create a CD of romantic tracks that remind you of your love and send it to your mate.
It may seem a cheesy prospect to some, yet it is a popular idea due to its wild success.
*Send your partner video messages expressing how dear they are to you. You can also
seize the opportunity to videotape certain elements that make up your daily routine,
thereby cultivating intimacy.
*Disregard any lack of ability to sing and serenade your mate.
*If it all possible, send your mate homemade goods.
*If there is a concert or sporting event in your sweetheart's city that he/she is
particularly interested in, purchase tickets for them to attend.
*Are you inclined to write? Consider composing a song or poem for your loved one.
*Send your beloved a recording of your voice.
*If you send greeting cards, do not do so merely on special occasions. If you wish
to further personalize your spontaneous greetings, send a homemade card.
*If you are more of the quirky type, create a fictional band and compose songs together.
For the more literary-minded, you can collaborate on a short story.
*Take and send many photographs of yourself. Dress up especially for your mate. If
you can afford it, you may also have photos professionally taken.
Although some may attempt to dissuade you from entering a long distance relationship
affirming that they simply cannot function, there are many couples who give evidence
to the contrary. If you are both committed to one another (and to much hard work),
there is no reason you cannot be among those success stories.