The Honesty Pact

Miscommunication and trust can be a great difficulty with long distance relationships. What your partner is doing, what they meant by a certain text or particular Facebook status can send your mind reeling into questioning doubts and anxieties. The solution however, is simply you and your partner agreeing to be open and honest with one another. It’s difficult to trust, but if you’re open about your life with your partner, it makes it so much easier.

Make these promises to each other:

• If something bothers me, I will tell you and not be indirectly hostile or impolite.

• I will tell you when and where and with whom I socialise.

• I will not divulge anything about our relationship which you might be uncomfortable with.

• You can ask me anything.

It’s important not to avoid awkward conversations and hostility to grow between you. If something is making you uncomfortable – however trivial – discuss it. This way you are certain that if something is bothering your partner, they will tell you and not drop passive aggressive messages like bread crumbs hoping you’ll lead yourself to the problem. And you won’t have to look through meanings in text messages or Facebook statuses.

Talk about your friends, what you do and where you go. If you share these details nothing will seem clandestine and suspicious to your partner. And if you feel uncomfortable sharing something, perhaps it’s an indication that you shouldn’t be doing it. The more details you share the better, and offer them willingly. Tell your partner they can ask you anything anytime. If they know this, they don’t need to feel uncomfortable when they do or worse yet, just keep it to themselves and let the issue fester.


Dealing with different lifestyles

In addition to being in different locations, you and your partner may be living different lifestyles. Naturally, this could be the case in any usual relationship; that one of you is at school or university or working, or has to work and study, or works and has made an amateur profession out of a hobby, while the other is occupied with one of the others. In a long distance relationship however, the chances of having different lifestyles are that much greater, as you two most probably didn’t meet under normal circumstances. And, of course, the cultural and time differences don’t make your situation any easier.

The main thing is to share and explain to your partner how your life works on a daily basis, what your expectations are of your partner and how much time you can spare for your relationship. In turn, your partner explains how their life works and you two can construct a communication schedule from there.

Understand that there will be times in anyone’s life when things get terribly strenuous. If one has exams or a deadline at work, one may not have time to Skype every night or be distracted by regular I.M.s. You need to be understanding of each other at these times and give each other the space to get the work done. You may find that you’re a bit grumpy when you’re under a lot of stress; try not to take it out on your partner.

It’s also a good idea to synchronise things which you can control. Work when your partner is working, so that you can have mutual free time. Do other things at the same time too, like meals – which you can have together on Skype, and exercising, and you can check in on each other afterwards. This way you can hold each other accountable to deadlines and enjoy each other’s progress.


Shake off the bad day

Whether you make use of Whatsapp, Facebook, email, or phone calls in your relationship, these still aren’t as effective as Skype can be. When you’re leagues away from one another, Skype is the closest thing you can get to a normal conversation – which is wonderful. However, because of this simulated normality, Skype conversations may also come with the drawbacks of normal conversations.

I too often find that when I’m in a glum mood, I bring it into my Skype conversations with my partner. For example, when I was busy with my exams, I was stressed and working all day. The only time that I stopped was when I Skyped with my partner. Ironically, because he is a source of comfort for me, and this was the only time I wasn’t distracted with work, I would vent and take out all my frustration on him. People do this with people with whom they’re in close proximity as well; friends, partners, family. They’re not angry with them, but there’s something about familiarity with a person that makes you want them to really feel your frustration. Astonishingly, he understood and would be able to calm me down and put me in a good mood. But in a long distance relationship, you don’t have ample time to spend together. You have a fixed time to have a conversation. This time that you spend together is valuable and you don’t want to waste the first few minutes coming out of a bad mood.

If you’ve had a rough day, perhaps take a few minutes to disentangle yourself from your thoughts, so that when you log onto Skype, you feel nothing but excitement to see your partner and enjoy the time you have together. Share what is frustrating you, but don’t take it out on your partner.


Visa requirements and advice

Being in a long distance relationship, you’re no doubt looking for opportunities to be with your partner. Be aware that job or study opportunities may become available suddenly and it would be good to be prepared for when they do.

• Some embassies have unfathomable websites, so start looking and understanding your respective one soon.

• Go through the visa requirements with a fine-tooth-comb. It would be good to have someone else take a look to ensure you haven’t missed something.

• Of course, some things you can only do once you have been accepted at a job or university, but there are others you can do while you’re waiting. You may need a police clearance certificate, for example, and this may take up to 3 months.

• To ensure that you will have a visa in time, be sure first to do the things that take longer. Opening a bank account abroad may take 2 weeks, where finding health insurance may only take a few days.

• Some health insurances only cover you from the day your work or studies start, but you need to be covered from when you arrive in the foreign country. Look for travel insurance or check if your health insurance at home will cover you for that time.

• Check carefully which documents the embassy needs in original and which documents need to be copies, as well as how many copies.

• Be sure you have passport photos that fit their requirements.

• You’re going to have a myriad of email addresses and phone numbers. Keep all of them organised and keep track of who you’ve emailed for what and what information they’ve given you.

• Most importantly, ask your partner for help. They know what other people in your situation do in their country, how the health insurances work, and other details like that.


The time before we met

The last time my partner came to visit me I got ill on his last few days with me. I was so miserable that we couldn’t do the surfing and snorkelling which we had planned for the last few days. But then on his last day, he suggested that I show him all the places I frequented from my childhood until the present.

It was wonderful. I showed him the first house I lived in, my kindergarten, junior school, high school, my old friends’ houses, the trees we climbed, and when we were a little older the café, cinema, and mall we went to. I also showed him my old school uniforms and I dug up some of my parents old photo albums to show him photos of me when I was younger, my old friends, and my dog. We then drove to the town nearby where I studied and I showed him my university, the dormitory where I spent my first year, and the digs I stayed in thereafter. We had dinner at the pub where my university friends and I used to meet.

It truly was one of my most special days with him. I ended up showing him things which I had long forgotten. I would recommend that when your partner comes to visit you, that you do the same.


Why commit to an LDR rather than wait to be together

The person with whom you’re planning to commit to a long distance relationship with must be someone who has made a tremendous impression on you; whether you met them and one of you has to move away, or you met when one of you was visiting the other’s country. Being in a long distance relationship is going to also make a tremendous impression on your life. It requires an incredible amount of trust, patience, and compromise. This isn’t a business for the faint hearted. It also instantly puts your relationship in a different place than if it were allowed to develop naturally if you were living together. But this big jump, this escalation in seriousness and trust, is a good thing. Actually, it’s a wonderful thing.

However, you may decide that it’s better for you personally to wait until you two live together to be together. The chances of you meeting up again aren’t impossible. But the thing about committing to one another is not that the assurance that you won’t lose touch, it’s that you will share some amazing times. And you will come to discover that you wouldn’t give these up for anything. And, believe it or not, despite being apart, you will grow and evolve together.

It’s worth it. Take the leap.


Things one can do to feel closer

The main problem with a long distance relationship is the distance. While there are many issues that come with this, the most pressing is the simple fact that you and your partner are very, very far away from one another, and the simplest, yet strongest, wish that you two share is to be together.

It hasn’t anything to do with the intricacies of communication difficulties; it’s merely the desire to physically be in the same place. There are some things you can do to ease the longing and feel more physically connected in each other’s lives.

A good way is to send visual information of things which are happening in your everyday life. Send photos via Whatsapp of your meals and when you cook or buy something really tasty. Send photos of your shopping; ask your partner’s opinion. Send pictures if you buy new furniture or put a poster up in your room. It’s a small thing, but it makes a tremendous difference to witness these details in each other’s lives.

Another way to feel closer is to start and end your days together. A quick good morning and good night call or Skype feels really good.

Also be aware of your messages. Use full sentences; if you’re able to send a message, you’re able to send a good one. If you have different languages, it may be easier each to speak in your own languages and it’s good practice to read their language.

Another way to feel closer and learn more about one another is to play questions games on Skype (see posts “Ways to liven up your Skype conversations” and “Date Night Ideas“).