Ask Lauren: Managing Long Distance Relationships

I talk a lot about long distance relationships, because I learned about them early on in my own. Chris and I started dating right as I was about to go abroad for a semester in London. Then we did a LDR again when I did an internship outside of New York City for a summer. Obviously the London period presented a more unique set of challenges, because we couldn’t just call each other on the phone, and we were dealing with a time difference. However, no matter the circumstances, all long distance relationships operate on the same basic principles. In episode 2 of “Ask Lauren,” I answer a question from a reader who’s girlfriend is abroad in London. Click below to watch.

If you’re too lazy to watch, then you lose. No, just kidding. Then here are a few points I cover in the video:

  • Long distance relationships require extra communication: When you see someone every day, it’s a lot easier to work through problems. You can have a quick conversation and it’s over. It’s also helpful to be able to interpret someone’s body language when you talk about a relationship issue. None of that is possible when you’re in two different places. You have to be sensitive to this, and work extra hard to make sure that you’re making your thoughts very clear. Instead of just assuming that the other person knows that you appreciate them/were annoyed when they did that thing/whatever, tell them. Spell it out. Make sure there’s no way that they could possibly be unaware.
  • Many fights aren’t about the issue you’re fighting about: When you’re thousands of miles away from your significant other, it’s common to fight about stupid things. You may think you’re fighting about one thing, but in reality you’re just fighting because one person is cranky because they miss the other. If you keep having stupid fights, stop and think about what’s really going on. Is she really mad for the reason she claims to be mad, or is she upset because she misses you? When I was abroad, I was known to pick a fight because it made me feel less bad than it did knowing that I was away from an amazing relationship.
  • Think about the time difference: When you’re dealing with a six hour time difference (like I was when I was abroad) it’s depressing to have to get through a major chunk of your day without getting to talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend. While you can’t completely solve this problem, you can make it easier. Send the other person an e-mail before you go to bed. It doesn’t have to be long, just tell them you’re thinking of them, miss them, etc. This way, they wake up and have an e-mail to read, even if they can’t talk to you for a few hours. For those on the other end of the time difference, it’s still nice to wake up with something to read.
  • Send a surprise: Chris and I weren’t together for Valentine’s Day. It was fairly depressing, until he sent me flowers. So sweet. It’s not cheap to ship stuff overseas, but sending a care package or two makes a huge difference. It will help ease the other person’s homesickness, and it’s a sweet gesture.
  • Write letters: E-mail and Skype are great, but nothing tops a hand-written letter. They’re romantic and way more personal. Write them.
  • Make it a priority: A long distance relationship is like participating in an extracurricular or taking a challenging class. It’s rewarding, but requires dedication and focus. Make sure both of you view the relationship as a priority, and always schedule time to talk.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? How did you make it work?

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