When you’ve spent the better part of a year seeing your best friend and significant other on a four-inch iPhone screen instead of in your bed, you learn a few things about what it takes to stay happy in a relationship. Being in a long distance relationship — or “LDR” as they’re commonly known — is obviously a terrifying idea, and clearly is not ideal. But the overwhelming majority of articles I read regarding LDR’s are negative, spouting reasons not to try, and advising just how far to run in the opposite direction of long distance love.
Sure, there are plenty of sane reasons not go for it — how hard it is to spend time together, how expensive it can be to travel to one another — so it's understandable that people are a little bit reluctant to dive in. I admit there are incredible challenges and many factors to take into consideration before getting yourself into a long distance relationship. But hey, who ever said love was sane? It is possible to be in a happy, healthy LDR — and I know it for a fact because I’ve been doing it successfully for over a year now.
So, in the spirit of optimism, I’m going to give you six reasons why you should give an LDR a try. Because yes, there are reasons.
1. You learn everything there is to know about communication.
Being in a long distance relationship forces you to say what you mean and mean what you say. It’s so important to be able to talk to your partner about how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. It can seem like a chore sometimes to express yourself using only words, but when all you have is a phone and an hour, there’s no way to avoid it. The beautiful part about this is that once you finally close the gap, the two of you will be able to operate like a well-oiled machine.
You learn the inflection in your partner’s voice when they’re upset and trying to hide it, you know that their voice goes up when they tell a little white lie, and you know the difference between their being quiet because they’re tired, and quiet because there’s something on their mind. It may not feel comfortable or natural to talk about anything and everything at first, but in the long run, it will make for a happier and healthier relationship.
2. You learn to be grateful.
In a relationship where you can drive 15 minutes to see your partner, it’s easy to lose sight of how lucky you are to be with them every day. In a long distance relationship, you gain more perspective with each passing day apart. Falling in love is easy, but keeping love is an exercise in gratitude. When you fall asleep alone and wish you were lying next to them listening to their “adorable” snore that in reality sounds like a truck, it only reinforces the love you share and reminds you to appreciate the time you have together.
3. You learn how to pick your battles.
When you're in a long distance relationship, you have to know what’s worth bringing up — and what you’ll forget about by this time next week. (And I mean “forget about” not “ignore” or “bottle up”.) When you only get to spend a finite amount of time with someone, you learn to pick your battles instead of picking a fight over something that might be trivial.
4. It solidifies emotional intimacy before physical intimacy.
Don’t get me wrong — physical intimacy is necessary. But for many people, in order to feel comfortable physically, they need to feel attended to emotionally. A long distance relationship is the perfect habitat for nurturing that kind of intimacy.
When most of the quality time you spend is with the sound of someone’s voice and a 10 second Snapchat, you learn to fall in love with the little intricacies of their personality. Staying up late at night telling each other secrets and stories from your childhood builds a different — and in some cases, deeper — bond than a passionate night without any words at all.
5. You know there’s a certain level of commitment upfront.
Anyone who’s even willing to entertain the idea of being in a long distance relationship absolutely adores you. There’s no denying that.
I’ve heard the horror stories about partners cheating in an LDR or someone ruining the relationship with paranoia, but that also happens with people who live together. Near or far, you need to know the person you’re with and learn to trust them whole-heartedly, and in an LDR, the basis for that trust is already there, purely based on the fact that they want to be with you in the first place.
6. You Learn To Live Separate Lives — Together
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make with their significant other is failing to give each other space. This creates a dependent and sometimes unhealthy dynamic within a relationship. Some people have a tendency to become fixated on their partner and cut out their friends and family to spend all their time with them — then they wonder why they feel almost betrayed when the person they’ve devoted most of their life to wants to do something alone or with a couple of friends from work.
In an LDR, you have to continue living your own life. It's the best way to really understand that your partner does not and should not complete you: You are one half of a relationship, not one half of a person.
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Images: New Line Cinema; Giphy (6)