by Maddy Richards of “The Matt Townsend Show” on BYU Radio
People say real love can make it through anything. That it’s stronger than…even distance. I’m here to tell you that while this is true…it’s easier said than done. It doesn’t matter if it’s romantic love, friend love, family love, or even a more general love. . . distance can be one of the hardest of all. It can strain it, change it, fade it, and sometimes ruin it.
I’ve had my fair share of experiences with distant love – from my dad going out of town on business, to spending a month in Europe away from all of my friends and family, to moving away to college, to my best friend going to Japan for two years and only being able to talk weekly.
Loving across a distance has taught me a few things about love in general and how to make the long-distance relationship work. Here are a few of the things I have learned:
1. Love takes work. It doesn’t come easy, it’s not simple. And it’s not meant to be. Love is hard, because the only thing harder is being alone.
2. Communication is the only way to survive. Things are easily misinterpreted across a distance. Being honest, straightforward, and kind in your communication is the only way to make it work. Ignoring each other will be your downfall. Don’t do it.
3. Trust is key. If you don’t trust someone before they are a long ways away, that mistrust will only grow. Work on the trust in your relationship constantly, and work on being more trusting instead of trying to protect yourself.
4. EVALUATE. Have a weekly or monthly discussion about how your love is doing, what you need from the other person, what you can do better, etc.
5. Don’t be afraid to feel. It’s important to let yourself feel things, and then after all the emotion is gone, you can evaluate it. It’s also important to talk about emotions with each other in the most calm, loving way possible.
6. Don’t be annoyed with the other person. This is HARD. If you are getting annoyed, be the most kind, sickly sweet person alive. It’s the best way to force yourself to be there for the person who is driving you nuts.
7. Make time!! This can also be hard, but when you have time to give to the person, DEVOTE IT TO THEM. When you’re on the phone, make sure you’re talking and listening, not doing a million other things.
8. Be supportive from afar. Do what you can to make sure they know you are there for them, no matter the distance.
9. Set the rules. Make rules of what both of you are comfortable with while you’re apart. Maybe you want a text every few hours, maybe you need to set rules about going out at nights or what movies you watch, etc. The important thing is making sure the other person is comfortable, and that you are comfortable with what they’re doing as well. If you disagree on something, find a compromise. After all, isn’t your love worth it?
10. Be happy. Maybe this isn’t the ideal situation. But don’t keep waiting until the day when the distance is done. Figure out what’s great about NOW and why you can be happy TODAY.
Sometimes, it’s hard for me not to count down the days until I’m reunited with my best friend again. But then I look at all the things I’ve learned about love, and I’m thankful for the chance I’ve had to be separated. I look at how our love has become stronger, more ready to take on anything, and I’m thankful.
Distance is never easy, but if you want the love to work across the distance, you just have to try.