Navigating Love From a Distance

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Long Distance Relationship (womxn)

So, you met the one.  But they live far, far away from you. Long distance relationships (LDR) have their own set of challenges and considerable thought needs to be given before you enter into a LDR; distance, future plans, financial commitment for travel, longevity, emotional capacity, and family history should all be topics of discussion and contemplation.

LDRs don’t offer the privilege of proximity that lets a relationship unfold naturally. There is the potential for there to be more anxiety in LDRs. You will spend time wondering if your new love is who they say they are? Are they doing what they said they are doing? Is there space in their life for you in the way they present themselves to have. Even the most secure person will wonder these things. You are human.

A closer proximity to your love allows the invisible to be seen, the heart to feel and know, and fears to be silenced instantaneously. If we are being honest, when the body reaches out and the heart aches to be close, words won’t always quell the desire. So, loving someone from a distance has its own set of issues layered on top of the normal process of getting to know a new partner.

In LDRs it may be wise to take the brain versus heart route first to make sure that no one is wasting time or setting themselves up for failure because of a logistical impasse that can’t be overcome. Really think before you invest your heart. I know we all get butterflies when we meet someone new and it’s hard to think with our brains during this time, but unless you can travel on those butterflies, do your heart a favor, think first. As we get older, we learn that sometimes love isn’t enough.

I know that can sound bleak and cause pause. Good. Think, plan, consider, and then decide on what’s best for you. I do want to give hope to those currently in LDRs, but I also want to pose realistic questions you can use as a guide.

  • Where do you both see this relationship going?
  • Is there long-term or marriage potential?
  • Individually, is the distance worth it?
  • Can each of you build a foundation of enough trust to sustain temptation?
  • Is ethical non-monogamy on the table?
  • If one of you will eventually have to move, who will it be?
  • If a move does happen, is there an expectation of cohabitation?
  • Do either of you have children that will be affected/uprooted with a potential move?
  • What about the other parent/custody arrangements?
  • Whose life is more flexible?
  • How much distance is too much? It is realistic to live in CA and date someone in NYC?
  • Can each of you afford the financial and travel commitment it would take to make the distance work?
  • How often can you realistically see each other?
  • What is the plan when someone feels lonely?
  • What are the individual priorities and goals in each of your lives that have priority?
  • How have each of you invested in your emotional and mental health so as not to project issues of insecurity that will show up in LDRs?
  • What support systems do each of you have in place that will support your relationship?
  • Have either of you navigated love at a distance before? What was that experience like?
  • I think the most important question to ask is; How does your potential partner handle distance as experienced through their attachment style?

I highly recommend a book called “Attached”, by Amir Levine. Attached is a book of resources helping couples assess and navigate how they exist in relationships based on their foundational bonding experiences with their primary childhood caretaker. I recommend this book for any couple, but especially those in LDRs. LDRs can ignite issues around trust and abandonment. This book, with its assessments and tools can be transformative in your life and relationships. 10 out of 10, highly recommend.

We live in a time where technology can help us create intimacy. So, prioritize a few FaceTime/Zoom date nights and have these important conversations. Work them out early in the relationship so that expectations are set accordingly. It’s okay if you don’t figure it out all at once. But it’s important to get a solid foundation so you both are working towards the same goal.

It can be done, LDRs can flourish, but it’s so important to build a solid foundation and maintain that foundation with adequate time, gestures of love, and a realistic evaluation of a future together. Set yourself up for success by weighing all factors in the beginning.

A partner once gave me some very sage advice and I want to share it with you as you ponder all there is to consider. When each of you do what is right for you, you ultimately do what is right for everyone around you.  Remember the importance of honestly and boundaries. Be honest about ability to give and of your limitations. Set boundaries that sew love and freedom for you both.

 

 

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