The number one rule of any relationship is communication. Communication is King, and everything else, feelings of awkwardness, the need to keep your partner “safe” from whatever it was you did at Brenda’s party last Friday is all secondary.
Unfortunately for most relationships, the communication aspect is largely glossed over. Emotions don’t get discussed, until they build and explode in fights that might just end the relationship. Feelings of unease or uncertainty aren’t talked about, so they can’t be fixed, and so they fester and rot. This is all considered normal. And long distance relationships are based entirely on communication. There’s no physical outlet of frustration whether it be in sex or a face to face fight when things get hard, because it’s not an option when one half of the partnership is halfway across the world. This idea that your partner doesn’t need to know when you’re uncomfortable in a situation, or more commonly, that they should already know, and that no communication is ever attempted is what really dooms relationships.
So, if you want your relationship to last, then there are two things that you have to do.
One: grow up.
Learn how to have those difficult conversations. If you want to have a relationship built to last for the rest of your life, you have to learn to deal with how you’re feeling and you have to learn how to discuss those emotions. It doesn’t matter, overall, what those emotions are, but I can guarantee that unless you learn how to express those emotions healthily, understand where they’re coming from, and discuss them with your partner, then the relationship will be over before it even begins.
Two: sit down and have a serious talk with your partner.
This doesn’t have to result in couples therapy. In fact, in a great many cases, all couples therapy is is a place for couples to sit down and talk through their feelings without fear of being judged and/or rejected. The second part of couples counseling that likely appeals to most people is the fact that there is a mediator. This means that there is someone to soothe the potential for fights in case something inflammatory is said/someone gets defensive.
So what needs to happen, in short, is for you and your partner to become your own mediators. Learn how to discuss things rationally, and know that if something is bothering your partner, it probably isn’t an attack against you, it’s more likely something that genuinely bothers your partner, and your first instinct should be to make your partner as comfortable as possible. With this in mind, if what’s making your partner uncomfortable is a behavior, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to make your partner more comfortable, whether it’s explaining why you do said behavior, or, if it’s something that could or should be stopped (i.e. smoking or something similar that your partner is viewing as destructive/harmful to you or to them) do what you can to lessen or stop it. And don’t be unreasonable about it, either, because that will doom the relationship, in the long run.
Another thing that must be done to make your relationship “easier” or at least more smooth is that open communication must be encouraged. None of what I’m talking about would be even remotely possible without an open space to discuss your feelings (hence the freedom that a relationship counselor tends to provide).
Now you may be asking, “wait, this is all general relationship advice, why does it apply to long distance relationships?”
I’d like to invite you to reread paragraph two.
Long distance relationships have all of these problems, and more. I’m going to go back on what I said earlier, because long distance relationships are harder than in person relationships. Speaking as a person who is currently in one, it is unbelievably difficult. I don’t get to see my partner, save in photographs, and I can only talk to them over the phone. Believe me when I say that nothing is harder than simply wanting to hold someone’s hand, and not being able to.
This all applies to long distance relationships because my partner and I have to talk about all of our problems. There is no shoveling things down underneath smiles and kisses and hoping it goes away, because if we want it to work out (and we absolutely do) then we have to have the hard discussions. We have to talk about when we feel awkward in a situation, or jealous of someone, because there’s no hyper possessive “signal” that can be given in emojis over someone’s head while they’re talking to someone who is clearly interested in them. More importantly, we want to talk about things like that. We want to know when the other is feeling afraid or inadequate or worried about anything. We have that open communication circle that I talked about earlier, and we haven’t been together for long, but so far? It works, very well.
So, no, long distance relationships aren’t inherently doomed, because the main issue with long distance relationships (after the common idea that it’s more likely for one party to fall for someone close to them and engage in a “real” relationship than it is for them to be in love with and committed to their current, albeit far away partner) is communication.
Learn to communicate with your partner, and the only thing that is keeping you two from a happily ever after is that they’re not actually “the one.”
And don’t be afraid of that, either. If it will work out, it will work out. Being stressed over them falling out of love with you happens in most relationships, the key is to not let it consume you, and, you guessed it, TALK TO YOUR PARTNER.
The rest is up to you.