Author - Chelsea Martin

You’re in an LDR? How Do You Cope?!

When people find out I’m in a Long Distance Relationship (LDR) I am usually confronted with questions like “How did you meet each other?” “How often do you see each other?” “How do you cope with the separation?” I’m always happy to tell them the details on how we met, how often we see each other, and how I cope with spending more time alone, than together with Chris.
They’ll nod their heads, and look at me with understanding, and then in the same instance they quickly shut it down and say “Well I wouldn’t be able to handle the distance”. This always surprises me. I never told anyone I could handle dating long distance. I hate it. If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I would ever date long distance, I would have said no. The difference between then and now was what I experienced in the moments Chris and I shared together.
Chris and I during a night out in July 2013, only the second time we hung out together with our group of friends.

Chris and I during a night out in July 2013, only the second time we hung out together with our group of friends.

Our Story

Chris and I didn’t start dating until after I came back home to America. We met in July of 2013, hung out several times, talked a lot, and after I returned home we continued to message each other on our cell phones and Skype online. I wasn’t looking for love when I was over there. I was just enjoying myself, partying, dancing, travelling, site seeing, meeting new people & making new friends, and having a good laugh.
When I met Chris I was instantly attracted to him. I thought he was very cute, I liked his hair, loved his smile, and even though he didn’t talk much in the beginning, he was still capable of making me laugh. Obviously with my time spent in England, I was growing close to him, but he was just a guy and I was fully capable of meeting a guy back home. Once I got back home he and I continued to talk everyday. I knew I liked him, I could have told you that before I left in July, but I didn’t realise how much of an effort he and I would make to actually stay in touch. That’s when it all changed.
Skype date with Chris. - a way for me to cope.

Skype date with Chris.

How to Cope? Think About the Future

Chris asked me out during a Skype date. I was finally forced to come to a decision about whether or not a LDR was right for me. What would take some people minutes, a couple of hours, or even a few days to think about, I had no hesitations. I blushed and said yes. Having Chris in my life, with 4,000+ miles separating us, brings me more love and happiness than not having him in my life at all. We could have remained as friends, stayed in touch, and chatted occasionally, but we both wanted more than that.
No LDR is ever easy to maintain. We know the distance will not keep us apart forever, in the meantime, it’s just an obstacle in our lives that we continue to face. When you meet the person who you cannot imagine living your life without, you will do anything it takes so you can be together.

Being in a LDR with Chris was the best decision I have ever made, and I am quite happy to say “Yes, I’m in a long distance relationship”, because he is worth the distance and the wait.

-Chelsea

Sacrifices in a Long Distance Relationship

Your electronic devices like cell phones, and computers work well to keep you both in touch, but eventually it’s crucial that you spend hours of time together just being in the same place. There’s really no other effective way to determine if you are right for each other. As I mentioned in my earlier post, nobody dates long distance for fun.  Long Distance Relationships (LDR’s) are difficult; emotionally draining, lonely, and expensive. Both partners need to put in effort to make their LDR work.
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You’ll want to also limit the amount of romantic getaways that you have planned with your partner, because your views of this person will be quite abstract otherwise. Try to put yourself in as many different circumstances with each other as possible, before you decide that this is the right person for you. Only going on romantic holidays will falsify your perspective of your partner because all you’ll have witnessed is that they are loving, sweet, and attentive.
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Nobody is perfect, we all have moments or days that we are not at our best. Try to spend time with them after a hard days work,  stay with them at their flat with their roommates present and see what their “bad habits” can be and how they deal with the people around them. How do they react when they’re stressed?
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Are They Worth the Sacrifice

Before you can assume that you love this person enough to reel up your anchor and set sail for moving, you need to gather a wider range of knowledge about this person. It may seem odd to just spend time with your partner, witnessing them live their day to day life, But I believe it’s vital to your relationship. For the better chance of success, you want to know this person inside and out, in all aspects of their lives.After you have spent lots of time together, sharing your normal day to day lives, is when you want to start considering where is this going? Are we going to continue this relationship?
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If this becomes more serious, who will be the one to move? Can we make that sacrifice? There needs to be a discussion on your ultimate end goal.  That doesn’t mean something has to happen within 6 months or a year, but it’s recognising that you know you’ll need to come to the decision about continuing your relationship and moving forward or maybe ending your relationship if you don’t share the same desired outcomes.
Make sacrifices for each other.

Being in a LDR online.

Neither one of you should feel forced into the conversation, it should come about naturally. Also if one of you doesn’t feel ready to move in together, then it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship. How long have you been together? Is it something you would continue even if you may not get the outcome you were hoping for? Depending on the time you’ve been together, it may be worth sticking out for longer to see if you both needed more time to get to know each other better, and develop more feelings. I wouldn’t rush into this topic, nor would I want to assume that this is how  either one of you will feel forever.
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Chris and I have been very fortunate enough that we have managed to see each other every couple of months. We have lived together for a few weeks at a time in both England and America. Seeing each other as normal and natural as we can get! From the moment we got into a relationship together, we both were aware we wanted something serious, but of course we didn’t know if our relationship would work out. We were still happy to give it a fair try. But the time came that we needed to ask each other where we thought our relationship was headed, and most importantly, would we both be willing to move if we had too?
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The Difficult Sacrifices

We were a little over 4 months into our LDR, and Chris had not come to America yet. His flight has been purchased months prior, so it was planned and set to happen. I was in England for the 3rd time that year, because I surprised him for his birthday right before Christmas (a post to soon follow). We were laying in bed, and Chris was opening up a bit, talking about his feelings and his thoughts about his future. He realised that he would be graduating soon, and felt a bit nervous, naturally. The conversation drifted onto our future. I had thought about it before while I was at home alone, but now we were properly talking about it.
Chris's Birthday night out, the night I surprised him!

Chris’s Birthday night out!

When it came down to it, we both agreed that we wanted to be together, and keep maintaining the relationship. When he asked if I would move to England, I was a bit scared of the thought because that would mean I would be moving away from my family, friends, and giving up my business. I told him that I wouldn’t want to move over unless I knew it was forever. My intentions of a relationship was to eventually get married. I felt my response was reasonable because moving into a whole new country was a huge sacrifice in itself.
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I asked him if he would ever move to America. I wanted to know what he would be willing to give up in his life, to be with me, if he had to. This is when he told me he didn’t think he could move out of England.I was shocked and also a bit hurt. This is when I knew that his visit to America was going to mean so much more than what we thought it would be initially.  Obviously we always interpreted it as time being spent together. But now it meant the end or the future of us. I said to him that America was going to make or break us. I want to be in a relationship with a person who is willing to sacrifice as much as I will. So to hear that he didn’t think he could see himself living in America really upset me in the moment. I said out loud, “you haven’t been there yet” but it was meant for me as I was trying to justify his response. The more he continued on, the better I understood where he was coming from.
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He has never been to America, I’ve been to England a few times and already knew what to expect while I was here. So in other words, he was nervous. He has never made that far of a journey from home. Which also meant, he couldn’t give me a straight answer, until he’s been there.The fact that he was willing to come over to America to see me, and stay with me for a couple weeks was monumental in itself. A student in his second year of Uni. Making the time to come see me during his holiday, living off of a students income. We both lightened up the mood by reminding each other that we still wanted to try and make our LDR work. He just didn’t have the experience yet to honestly tell me if he could live elsewhere from where he’s grown up all of his life.
Chris and I at the Space Needle in Seattle, WA. for the New Years countdown.

Chris and I at the Space Needle in Seattle.

Fast forward 2 months, Chris has come and gone from America, and loved it. We had so much fun together and really connected more than we ever thought we could. It’s February and we are celebrating our 6 months anniversary, and Valentines Day. We have a list of questions to read over to each other as part of our date, and some of those questions were serious, just like our talk we had in December. Now that he has been to America, he said he could see himself living there. I was ecstatic. We both were at a place in our hearts were we could comfortably sacrifice something in our lives for each other, equally.Our hopes and goals for our future are definitely exciting for us.
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We are not yet living together, but are planning to apply for a UK Fiancé Visa. My life plan has been to move out of America at some point in my life, and for a while I thought it would be me obtaining my dual citizenship in Canada and living there. The likelihood of Chris getting a decent job here in America his first year out of Uni is quite poor, so we are preparing for me to move there upon approval of our UK Fiancé Visa application in early to mid 2016.
Chris and I at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, WA.

Chris and I at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, WA.

Be sure to ask yourself and each other, How far you would go for Long Distance Love? We decided we would travel the world to be together.
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-Chelsea

Making Long Distance Work

Holding Hands
While visiting my friend Jodie in England during the hot summer month of July (2013), I was introduced to her friends and family during my stay abroad.  It was in my second week that I met Christopher. By the time I returned back home to America, it was about a week later On August 4th of 2013, that Chris properly asked me to be his girlfriend.
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We live 4,674 miles away from each other, in separate time zones, about a 10 hour flight, plus additional hours spent on a coach or in a car to get to our final destinations. In the beginning of our relationship I spent days wondering how we were going to do this, how were we going to make this work?
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We Are Proof It Can Work (And So Are You)

To this day, we are still in a long distance relationship with each other. Despite the distance, we are incredibly happy. Chris and I both agree that the distance between us has made our relationship even stronger. Nothing will ever prepare you for what to expect in a long distance relationship, not even a normal close proximity relationship can prepare you for this. It’s something you learn as you go along.
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So if you find yourself here, reading this post, then surely you want to find reasons and advice as to how you can make your LDR work. If you’re like me, you’ll find that for every 10 articles you read on why “LDR’s don’t work”, you’ll find one that will tell you why it can work! I’m here to let you know it’s not impossible. Just take my advice and apply it to your relationship in your own way.

A favourite photo.

A favourite photo.

Trust

A relationship without trust is turbulent, dissatisfying, and not capable of surviving for the long term. Understandably with a LDR, trust is one of the biggest reasons why many couples break up. Granted, in this day and age LDR’s are so much more easier to maintain and the internet & social media, cell phones, and emails allow us to keep in constant contact. There are still many hours in a day where you don’t speak with each other, and for those who lack trust, those hours without contact can cause anxiety & fear. Their mind can create thoughts and ideas that their partner is doing something harmful to their relationship, whether it be flirting with another person, or as obscene as infidelity.
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One of the benefits to having a relationship with someone in close proximity (CPR) is that you are able to see each other multiple times a day, and know what’s going on. Those who are in LDR’s don’t have the ability to see what’s going on and have to depend on the communication they shared to get a feel for what their partner is doing. Yes, not knowing what is going on in your partners life can still occur in CPR’s but most LDR’s downfalls stem from the lack of trust because of the distance. When you’re not texting each other or skyping each other, you have to trust that your partner is doing what they said they were going to do; sleeping, eating, studying, shopping, hanging out with friends, etc. We have to trust that our partners won’t lie, won’t flirt, won’t cheat, and so on. We also have to trust that our partners remain open about their feelings in regards to maintaining the relationship.
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In my opinion, LDR’s do not stand a chance without trust.  From the beginning I trusted Chris. I had no reason to not trust him. I felt he was being honest when told me that he was going to bed, that he was really going to bed. I am confident that when he goes for a night out with his friends that he’s not out flirting with other girls or trying to hook up with strangers.
A night out together, without the distance.

A fun night out together, joined by many of our friends.

Communication

In a LDR you need to be comfortable to talk about your feelings. This is the foundation of your relationship. No matter how you are feeling: sad, jealous, annoyed, angry, or frustrated. You need to be able to express yourself. Holding it all in is only going to make the problem worse, and it won’t set you up for success in your LDR. You need to have the open discussion of what is okay to do in your relationship, and what is considered inappropriate, on both perspectives. Without that communication, you may inadvertently cross the boundaries and upset your partner without even knowing it.
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Jealousy

I feel this kind of goes hand-in-hand with trust, and also has it’s own category. With the distance between LD couples it can often create jealousy between partners and their interactions with the opposite sex. Some people are very uncomfortable with the idea that their partner will hang out with anyone of the opposite sex, they view them all as a threat, and worry that this person is out to bed your partner or vice versa! Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and our imaginations lead us to over-think friendships that our partners have with the opposite sex. But that is where the trust has to come in.

You can trust that your partner won’t do anything inappropriate with a person in any given situation whether it’s on campus or at a party.  But jealousy can still arrive while knowing your partner is hanging out with the opposite sex, especially when you see pictures of them at a party with attractive girls and guys around. This is when you really need to evaluate how you’re feeling. Are you jealous because they are physically closer to your partner in that moment than you? Or is there a completely bonafide reason to be jealous?
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Is this person saying or doing something to your partner that is highly inappropriate, examples: asking your partner out on numerous occasions although they know you are in a relationship, making attempts to kiss or inappropriately touch your partner, etc. Those are definitely fair reasons to be jealous, but keep in mind it’s not your partner who is asking those questions! Life happens, and you or your partner may be asked out by someone in your hometown. How you and your partner respond to that attention is a different story.
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I know I have been jealous when Chris goes out with his friends, but I’m jealous because I can’t be there with them. I just envy the fact that they get to spend time with him physically and I can’t. So you are probably wondering how do I deal with it? I try and surround myself with my friends to keep my mind busy. If I allow myself to sit and think how I’m not the one spending time with him, I just get emotional and upset. I don’t like to spend my days sitting at home and sulking, so I make a point to hang out with my friends to pass the time in an entertaining way for myself. Having my friends around definitely help boost my mood. Otherwise I watch movies, play video games, or read a book.
Chris and I surrounded by our friends at a table, during a busy night out, without the distance.

Chris and I surrounded by our friends at a table, during a busy night out.

Physical Affection and Intimacy

Couples in CPR’s are fortunate enough to be able to hold hands, hug, and kiss each other whenever they want. Their partner is accessible to them on a more regular occurring basis, so they experience less frustrations than what LD couples go through. Loosing that sense of touch can be really difficult on a couple and for some, it’s not worth distance. To me, this has been the most difficult aspect of LDR’s. The lack of physical contact is so hard. Lack of sexual contact is infuriating too! Without actually saying this out loud to each other, or even to ourselves, by choosing to come into this LDR we choose to live a “more-than-too-often-temporary-celibate” lifestyle. No hugging, cuddling, kissing, holding hands, massaging, or intimately touching each other for several weeks (months) at a time.
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I know I have been asked a couple of times, how I resist the temptations around me. Just because we are in relationships doesn’t mean our brain stops noticing attractive people. It’s not human nature to turn that off. Because I think a person is attractive doesn’t mean I am going to run up to them, pull them into me, and passionately kiss them. I have said to those who asked me about that “Despite the distance, I am satisfied within our relationship which means I have no outside desires to be with anyone else, even if it’s just for a moment. He means everything to me and I am very happy being with him, even when we can’t physically be together”.
Not being able to go to bed with Chris at night is probably one of the areas I struggle with the most. This is the calmest part of my day, Chris isn’t even awake yet.
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I have nothing to do but to think and reminisce about him. To help myself over come these moments of sadness do a series of things: I read his letter he wrote to me and all the emails he has sent to me, look back at all of our pictures together (Sometimes some of them backfire and only make me more sad but there is almost always one that has cheered me up. If they make me more upset it’s only because of a memory reminding me how much more I miss him, not because I was ever offended in any way). But there is usually always an email or a picture that puts a smile back on my face, and oddly enough it’s not always the same one! And I cuddle with hoodies that Chris has sprayed for me with his cologne during previous visits.
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Ultimate Goal

Obviously nobody dates anyone LD for fun. There is nothing fun in spending thousands of dollars, spending more nights apart than you’ll spend together in a single year, and temporary celibate (boo). It’s really not worth it! You have to have the discussions, “Where is this going? What are we willing to do for each other? Who is going to do the big move?”. This is huge. Lots of couples in CPR don’t even have this conversation themselves. They mostly just go through the motions of the relationship, and may find themselves moving up.
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If your expectation is marriage, you need to be honest and say to your partner, that you are looking for something long term aka forever. You will never know just by looking at someone that you will marry them someday, but by telling your partner this, the expectations of what you are looking for are all laid out on the table. Most LDR won’t last 4 months if the couples do not share the same end goal for their relationship, which is what brings down the success rates on LDR’s. You don’t need to bring it up within the first couple of months, but before you spend loads of money on expensive airplane tickets and hotel accommodations, have this talk first.
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I told Chris from the beginning of our relationship that my intent for dating was to find the guy I would hopefully marry someday, and He was upfront and honest with me. This has definitely made our relationship’s foundation more stronger, because we both know exactly what we want. To live together in England, and get married after he graduates from University and obtains a career job.
Pre-drinks before our night out, quick kiss caught on camera by a friend.

Pre-drinks before our night out, quick kiss caught on camera.

Commitment

Being in a CPR having your partner near, and accessible whenever, you’re less likely to get away with inappropriate behaviours you exhibit onto others while being in a relationship. It’s not true %100, but you’re more likely to be caught, especially through the words of friends. In a LDR you can hold a catfish lifestyle, and your partner may never even know! Catfish: to pretend to be someone you’re not online by posting false information, such as someone else’s pictures, on social media sites, usually with the intention of getting someone to fall in love with you.

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In my LDR with Chris, we have been open with each other about what we consider to be inappropriate and appropriate behaviours. Any time a guy has asked me out, I informed Chris about it, and told him what I said to that person. I don’t ever want him to feel inferior because he lives in another country, He always has been my main priority and the only person whose affections I seek.

Chris and I agreed in our LDR that we would treat this just like a normal CPR. Regardless if we can’t be together in person, we do not date others while we are apart. This is a conversation that needs to be had right away, as soon as you establish yourself as a LD couple. You cannot assume that your partner has the same perspective of commitment as you do.

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Plans to Visit

Unfortunately without money, you cannot maintain a LDR for long. SKype, and emails will only get you so far for a certain length of time, but it won’t keep you together forever. Because relationships with people we can see, hear, touch, and feel, are what we all want. Costs of fuel, airplane tickets, accommodations, sending gifts, and spending money for food & shopping while you are together, does add up! You need to see them on a regular basis if you can, even if it’s a couple times a year.
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Pre-arranging visits, weeks or months in advance, is the best way to relieve yourselves of the tension that builds during your time spent apart. It affirms why you both chose to stay in the relationship while you have too. It’s even better to arrange another visit to see each other again, while you’re together in person, because you’ll already have something to look forward too as you have to say goodbye.
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Miscommunication & Quarrels

In your LDR you cannot solely rely on texting, social media chats, or apps you downloaded on your cell phone to IM your partner, to be the only way you resolve a domestic or clear up any  miscommunications you’ve had with each other. No relationship comes with an instruction manual. We are human, and we are certainly  not perfect, so these issues will come across at any point in our relationships. How we resolve them is what sets the tone for how likely your LDR is going to last.
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When I’m upset, Chris will Skype me. He can see the emotions all over my face, my body language, and hear it in the tone of my voice. He is better able to help me resolve any quarrel we have, or talk me through a bad day via Skype, rather than relying on text alone. Sometimes we can misinterpret what people are saying because text cannot portray our feelings well enough. Maybe unless we were all professional writers, but we’re not! So if we’re in irritable mood, sometimes we read text from our partners in a more offensive manner than they were ever meant to be, or take the context completely wrong!
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LDR will bring on insecurities at times, so for the lack of ability you have to see each other in person, take advantage of your options to see each other via web cam to talk out your problems, It will help you out so much!
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All in all, no relationship is easy. I am here to give you the support and the motivation you need, to know that LDR’s can work. As long as you trust each other, keep communication open between each other, make it a point to always talk about your feelings, goals, & expectations, make plans to see each other, and share the same commitment, Your relationship can be successful. Don’t let anyone tell you that LDR’s won’t work, and that you’re wasting your time. Let that be a decision you make for yourself. If you find the person worth waiting for, the distance is always worth it.

-Chelsea