fight the odds and make it work.

Cosmopolitan (Philippines) - - Contents -

Te­ef­fany, 27, and Mar­shall, 28, are living proof that longdis­tance re­la­tion­ships can suc­ceed. After Mar­shall went off to Bos­ton for col­lege, they stayed to­gether for 10 years and tied the knot last year. In the be­gin­ning, the de­ci­sion was sim­ple. How­ever, it was a choice they had to make over and over. “And each time is just as im­por­tant, if not more, than the last,” Te­ef­fany says. “As we got older and started to grow into two sep­a­rate in­di­vid­u­als, we had to re­ally think about our de­ci­sion to stay to­gether. And ev­ery sin­gle time, we de­cided that with ef­fort and com­pro­mise, it’d all work out—and fi­nally, it did!”

For Rina, 35, who spent three years in Mu­nich for re­search, tech­nol­ogy made it eas­ier to take the leap. “It’s

hard to let go when the rea­son to end a re­la­tion­ship isn’t that you stopped lov­ing each other. Since we were both will­ing to use the tech at hand, we de­cided to go for it. The in­ter­net gives cou­ples a chance to see if their re­la­tion­ship has sub­stance— and re­ally tests if you trust your part­ner and your­self.”

Our take­away? What’s im­por­tant is that you and your boyfriend both have the con­vic­tion that an LDR is the best de­ci­sion for the both of you. “You have to be in com­plete agree­ment,” re­la­tion­ship coun­selor Aileen San­tos cau­tions. “If one of you is not con­vinced, there’s a huge chance it’s not go­ing to work.” You also need to make sure you re­ally have a fu­ture worth see­ing through to­gether. This was what con­vinced Therese, 37, to give an LDR a shot when she met her Swedish hus­band, Axel, while vol­un­teer­ing for an in­ter­na­tional foun­da­tion in 2009. “I was 30 and fig­ured it was time to get se­ri­ous, and so did he,” she says.

Be­fore you or your part­ner leaves, talk about ev­ery­thing you want in life: your ca­reer plans, where you want to live, whether you want kids, whether you be­lieve in re­li­gion, your deal­break­ers, etc. After all, “you’ll need to save your stamina and strength for the ‘dis­tance train­ing,’” Therese says. “And even if you’re not talk­ing about mar­riage yet, I think it’s im­por­tant to be on the same page.”

putting in the WORK Be­fore the LDR starts:

talk about your time frame. “It shouldn’t be an in­def­i­nite setup,” Aileen says. Let’s face it—be­ing an ocean away from some­one is hard enough. If you don’t know when it’s go­ing to end, that’s just torture. “I don’t think it can go on for­ever,” Rina agrees. “You also have to know how to be in the same place with the other per­son.” She also sug­gests plan­ning when you’ll see each other next, whether it’s go­ing home for a visit or meet­ing up in a dif­fer­ent country.

When you’re in a new LDR:

Know your love lan­guage. Ev­ery­one has dif­fer­ent ways of ex­press­ing and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing love, and ac­cord­ing to Dr. Gary

Chap­man, au­thor of The5 Love Lan­guages: The Se­cret

to Love That Lasts, they fall un­der five types: words of af­fir­ma­tion, acts of ser­vice, re­ceiv­ing gifts, qual­ity time, and phys­i­cal touch. For peo­ple who speak the first four love lan­guages, it’s still easy to ex­press af­fec­tion through the in­ter­net or by send­ing gifts. But if your love lan­guage is touch, that poses a slight prob­lem. “Even if you know your part­ner loves you, when you feel lonely, it’s so easy to mis­take some­one

“The in­ter­net gives cou­ples a chance to see if their re­la­tion­ship has sub­stance.”

who’s just there to give you a pat on the back or a hug as some­one who loves you more, be­cause it’s your love lan­guage,” Aileen ex­plains. “So you have to spend time with your part­ner at least ev­ery six months, so that you don’t for­get your love for each other.” Don’t know your love lan­guage yet? Take the quiz at 5love­lan­guages.com.

Mas­ter your com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills

Fig­ure out which plat­form works best for you, con­sid­er­ing your time zones and sched­ules. Some cou­ples are fine with tex­ting, while oth­ers pre­fer phone calls or video chat. Therese and Axel Skyped ev­ery day for two hours for three years, while Te­ef­fany texted Mar­shall through­out the day so he could read her mes­sages when he woke up. But be care­ful with chat, which leaves a lot of room for mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion, Aileen says. Be­fore you re­act neg­a­tively to any­thing said over text, clar­ify what your part­ner meant first.

But even more im­por­tant is to know your own self. After all, ex­press­ing your­self, es­pe­cially in a fight, is harder when you’re not phys­i­cally to­gether. “You have to have higher EQ than oth­ers,” Aileen ex­plains. “When you’re upset, you have to know why you feel that way, then clearly ex­plain it to your part­ner, be­cause they won’t be there to in­ter­pret it for you.” For ex­am­ple, Te­ef­fany and Mar­shall told each other how they wanted issues to be ad­dressed and how they wanted to be com­forted if needed. “But be­fore you can tell your sig­nif­i­cant other that, you need to fig­ure it out on your own—which for me was the hard part. In LDRS, you learn a lot about your part­ner but also so much about your­self and your hap­pi­ness in the process.”

Therese sug­gests set­ting ground rules for fight­ing, such as stick­ing to the clas­sic “When you , I feel ”, and set­ting a time limit for how long you ar­gue be­fore you de­cide to cool off and con­tinue talk­ing later—while re­as­sur­ing each other that you still love each other. Avoid stonewalling at all costs—it’s dam­ag­ing enough when you’re in the same place, let alone in dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

When you’re start­ing to get the hang of it: Have a sup­port system

For Therese, air­port good­byes were the worst. But it helped that her friends were there for her ev­ery time. “My girls had a drill when­ever Axel would leave. It was like this re­lay— they’d take turns tak­ing care of me. My friend Ina would bring me back to her house, and she al­ways had food like choco­late cake and ice cream, and we’d watch

Rupaul’s Drag Race, or what­ever we wanted to watch that boys wouldn’t ap­pre­ci­ate.” So when you miss your guy, busy your­self with work and fo­cus on all the girly things you can en­joy with­out him.

An­tic­i­pate and ac­cept change

“It’s very im­por­tant to dis­cuss how dif­fer­ent things will be­come, and how you will both be open to that and ad­just ac­cord­ingly,” Te­ef­fany ex­plains. “In a few months, in­stead of you two against the world, it will be more of your com­pletely sep­a­rate worlds com­ing to­gether and func­tion­ing side by side.”

“The most dif­fi­cult thing is giv­ing each other the space to grow be­cause there is so much phys­i­cal space be­tween you al­ready,” Rina agrees. “It can be hard when you know there is a huge part of your part­ner’s life you aren’t re­ally a part of— and it gets harder when the dis­tance be­comes a strain on the re­la­tion­ship (I think it’s in­evitable).” Her so­lu­tion? “Trust your part­ner and your­self. Re­mind your­self that you love each other, and trust in that love.”

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