Even though my partner and I closed the distance three years ago (and we’ve changed countries twice since then), I still think that the long-distance phase was not only the hardest time in our relationship, but also in our lives.
Missing another person is accompanied by sadness, loneliness, and the occasional anxiety attack. The situation gets better every few months (when you get to meet your partner). And even though you might think that the only definite outcome is an incredible level of frustration, time being apart is also a period of self-discovery and improvement. Even if you don’t see the benefits now, you will notice them when you close the distance. And, the earlier you start noticing the benefits, the sooner you will start enjoying your relationship!
What are the benefits I discovered while being in a long-distance relationship?
You value the time together more.
Being together day after day makes you feel that your partner is a given in your life. Long distance phases will remind you that being together wasn’t something that came easily to your life (even long after you close the distance).
You appreciate simple everyday activities much more.
Because you get to spend so little time together (and even less in a home environment). it is likely that majority of your meetings happen half way. Even dish washing becomes an entertaining and soulful activity. The best part is, you don’t appreciate these things only during the LDR phase, but this feeling will linger in you for quite some time. Today, three years into living together and facing our domestic duties, I still remember that these are the things I used to pray for. I am so grateful for what I have now.
You learn to communicate better.
Long-distance relationship forces you to master your communication skills. Because of the lack of physical contact, you tend to fall into the arguments faster. Also, solving them gets more challenging. When living together, sometimes you are too tired or frustrated to analyzing the issue and fall back on the simplest solution – hugs and make-up sex. However, talking is the only option while in an LDR. With time, you become more compassionate and understanding towards your partner and learn how to “navigate” even the most complicated arguments over text messages (text is not advisable though).
The fact is, if you manage to solve your arguments while in a long-distance relationship, any issues that will come up when living together will be easy to overcome because you will be able to talk about it face-to-face.
You become sure about your feelings.
If you spend months or years waiting to see your loved one, you have enough of time to evaluate their importance in your life. You make the decision to wait and have the chance at a normal relationship in the future, even if it means that your relationship is, in a way, “on hold”. Let’s admit it, your relationship doesn’t develop at the same speed as the normal one when you live oceans away.
You become more patient.
One more benefit for your relationship (and you personally), is gained patience. I used (and still am) quite short tempered, but I realized how patient I can be when I really want something. Your patience is revealed in various situations:
- You have no Friday plans and would love to Skype but your partner wants to go to their friend’s birthday party instead
- You have to save money for 6 months to be able to see them
- You have a bad internet connection and are not able to see (or even worse, talk to) them on your long awaited Skype date
- You are not able to figure out how to close the distance
- Your parents are against your relationship
- You work on closing the distance but constantly come up with issues that force you to postpone it
- You doubt your decision about having the relationship
- You feel a constant urge to share everything with your partner, but you can’t
- You come back to an empty home every evening
- You start to forget their smell
The list could go on, but every single time you miss them terribly, or feel frustrated or sad, you are actually forced to admit to yourself if you really want to be in a relationship and have the strength to continue.
You have more free time (a.k.a. try and benefit from those lonely Friday nights!)
It all depends how you will approach your free time. You can become sad and depressed, or, alternatively, choose to develop, grow, or dedicate your time for learning something new!
Most importantly, this time is a period of self-awareness and understanding your advantages/flaws and working on them.
You learn to prioritize and plan.
I used to be really bad in planning, but my long-distance relationship forced me to plan various aspects of my life. We had to plan how to spread out our annaul leave so we could see each other enough but not use up all our days off in three months.
You manage your finances better.
I wasn’t able to spend my money on anything other than the flight tickets during the time we were in a long-distance relationship (including clothing, make up, or any other girly stuff). We HAD to save money to be able to see each other – meeting each other was essential to keep our relationship going. This helps you to prioritize your needs and stop spending your salary on non-important stuff (this was very useful for me).
You learn how to sacrifice.
In many different ways. You realize that another person’s happiness and success is sometimes more important than your own. You sacrifice various material and non-material values:
- Your holidays could be spent with friends/family, but they are entirely dedicated to your partner
- You miss many dinners and outings whenever you have an opportunity to see their face
- You might even risk losing your job by taking too many 3-day weekends
- You swallow your jealousy/anger when they go out with their opposite sex friends
- You also have to swallow your jealousy when they are going out with their same sex friends – because their friends get to see your partner more often than you do
- I’m not even talking about the financial sacrifice 🙂
Most importantly, you “invest” in a possible future together.
You become more creative.
Online dates tend to become boring after some time… Also, texting each other every day and asking “how was your day” WILL become annoying at some point, unless you become creative. We became artistic in the way we texted each other, sent each other songs, pictures, had our Skype dates, found ways to meet each other, and found excuses to stay longer. Even if you can’t meet your significant other, send them care packages, unusual gifts (you can make them yourself at NO cost), organize Skype dates in different set-ups or locals, send them surprise images, snail-mails etc.
You connect with your partner much better.
Distance helps to create a really strong, deep bond with your partner. Since you have no other means to get to know each other than communicating, you have all the time in the world to talk about yourselves. This gives your partner a very good insight into you and your character.
Long distance relationships are not something anyone would get into of their own free will, but it does help to lay down a strong foundation for your relationship. Take this time as an opportunity to learn about your partner and yourself, discover your flaws and scope for improvement, your advantages, priorities, and opinions. Work on what you don’t like about yourself and nurture the features that you do like. This time is yours, use it for self-care and growth.