Hi! I’m Rachel, Jo’s sister. I’m excited to be writing a guest post for Jo, My Gosh! My partner (a Navy veteran and all-around goofball) lives just shy of 2,000 miles away from me, so while I haven’t been in a relationship with a deployed service member, I have a bit of experience in managing a long distance relationship.
The following are some of (what I consider) the worst pieces of advice for couples in long distance relationships. LDRs are hard enough without getting a “poo-poo platter” of crappy advice from well-meaning friends and family. So if you’re new to the LDR game, I hope my thoughts will help you! As with all opinions or advice, take the following with a grain of salt and consult your own intuition.
1. “If you really love each other, the distance will be easy.”
Yeeeaaaaaaah, no. How much two people love each other has nothing to do with the ease or difficulty of being separated. Any way you cut it, a LDR is going to be hard, it’s going to be work. But if you’re struggling, don’t think that’s a reflection of your love for your partner. It’s not–it’s a reflection of a difficult situation.
2. “You’re lucky–I know someone whose partner is in <insert place that’s farther away>.”
In my experience, once you’re no longer driving distance away from bae, a few hundred miles feels the same as a few thousand. Don’t let anyone trivialize the challenges of your LDR. No one is competing for gold in the Long Distance Olympics; you don’t have to be farthest apart to be allowed to feel frustrated or lonely sometimes. Just remember not to sit in that loneliness for too long.
3. “Don’t hang up before you’ve said sorry.”
When it comes to arguing, it’s important to respect what works for you and your partner. In a LDR, frustrations from being apart can combine with the argument at hand, so you may find yourself having bigger arguments than you’ve ever had before. Forcing an apology when you’re not ready just to say “sorry” before hanging up may only breed resentment without actual closure to the argument. Acknowledge your feelings, respect your partner, and move through the argument as quickly as you are able to without feeling bitter, even if that means hanging up angry and calling or emailing your apology a day later or after some rest.
4. “Don’t let them know you’re sad/struggling. You have to be the strong one.”
This one is tricky. I am a huge advocate of sharing feelings–not only are you creating trust when you share how you are feeling, but vulnerability helps to create connection over a long distance. So when it comes to acknowledging your struggle with the distance, I say go for it–with one caveat. It is so important to gauge your partner’s state of mind; if they’re struggling, consider sharing the burden without unloading. Let your partner know you’re feeling the challenges, too, but you’re in it together. And then get yourself a counselor–mental health is so important!
5. “You have to send nude pics or they’ll leave you and look elsewhere for that.”
Nope. You don’t have to send anyone anything that you don’t want to send. Send risque pics if you feel comfortable, but keep your bits to yourself if that makes you feel better. Plus, it’s always good to remember that digital images can take on a life of their own, so be thoughtful of what you’re putting into the ether and how you’re putting it out there.
6. “If you sleep with someone in a different area code, it doesn’t count.”
Trust is the foundation of a long distance relationship. Breaking that trust will compromise and possibly destroy your relationship. Unless you’re in an open relationship, honesty is the best policy. Plus, if you’re grown up enough to be in a LDR, you’re grown up enough to take responsibility for your actions.