Thursday, November 08, 2007

Long Distance Relationships: Do They Work?

It must have been an optimist who said “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. To which a pessimist replied, “out of sight, out of mind”. This topic hits home for me. I’ve done the long distance thing and have several friends who have been or currently are in a LDR. Some stats: The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships (Director- Dr. Gregory Guldner) reports that 1 in 10 marriages are long distance not including military marriages which are an expected but still astounding 2 out of 3. It’s harder to track dating relationships but The Center reports 1 in 7 as long distance relationships.

By nature I’m an optimist so I do believe that LDR’s can work. However, the people involved have to be very deliberate about making it work. LDR’s need constant and consistent nurturing, like a plant. You can’t leave it for dead then dump a gallon of water on it hoping for a spontaneous resurrection (shout out to George & Wheezie…my former plants…whose life with me was surely the equivalent of plant hell). Whether you’re in a committed long distance relationship, a marriage where one partner travels more than the other, or are starting to date and you live in different states, be deliberate about prioritizing each other and making whatever time you spend together, quality time. Here are a few tips and resources for those of you in LDR’s. Stay positive!

· Be Creative- Think out of the box when it comes to staying connected with your partner. Leave a sentimental card in their luggage so they find it when they unpack. Send a care package of their favorite snacks/foods.
· Communicate- Lots of ways to do this! Don’t just tell each other about your day. Watch a t.v. show together. Talk about how you’re feeling. Play the 20 questions game. Text message each other throughout the day. Invest in a webcam (shout out to K&J for this suggestion). If you suspect that you have miscomnunicated, check with your partner to see if the impact of what you said, lines up with what you intended.
· Quality Time- Get on a schedule for spending time together and try to stick to it. Make sure your time together includes not only something fun but also some down time to just “veg out” with each other.
· Resources:
The Center for Long Distance Relationships
The Complete Idiots Guide to Long Distant Relationships
Leslie Karsner, Ph.D. Author on LDR’s