Dated May 16, 2021: Good Luck with it. I couldn’t bear to read a word of it…
Long-Distance (and local) Challenges and Suggested Guidelines for Successful Romantic Relationships: How to Make Them Meaningful for Both Parties (no matter the duration)
1. Long Distance Relationships are a hard business to be pulled off. They take extra effort and extra commitment, so my recommendation is that they tick the following boxes before being willing to pursue them. These potential pairings should:
A. Possess a moderate-high threshold of personal respect for
B. Enjoy doing many of the same things and enjoy similar topics of conversation/ Sincerely Enjoy Each Other’s Company
C. Are intellectually and otherwise attracted to one another
D. Share the immeasurable but undeniable quality, difficult to define but impossible to deny, which we refer to as the catch-all category called “chemistry”.
2. Since a connection is created in the absence of accompanying visual information in a LDR, many cues are unintentionally lost and best case scenarios are subconsciously generated. The stronger the felt and reported attraction and/or connection, the larger the disparity between fantasy and reality.
3. The longer the distance between parties, the more difficult it is to overcome this disparity in a low-pressure, comfortable and organic way. Long distance requires a good deal of intentional effort, something which is hard for many people to willingly invest early on in the dating process (particularly within within the context of internet dating process – one with plenty of inherent challenges to overcome even if both parties are neighbors.
4. Even at only 70-80 miles apart, attempting to date (or even have a brief romantic fling) forces at least one of both parties to reveal more information about their home situation than they would have to reveal if they were able to get to know one another via local dates or easy meals together. The only alternative for protecting one’s privacy long-distance is by getting to know each other during weekend hotel stays. Privacy comes at a cost to one’s finances, one’s freedom, and one’s other (perhaps simultaneously occurring) activities. This requires considerably more intentionality, self-sacrifice, and skillful communication efforts from the very beginning of such relationships-building attempts, something that often doesn’t inspire the requisite levels of devotion that early on.
5. Both partners have to negotiate terms early on as well, and this isn’t perceived as a romantic or natural conversation to have. However, since both parties are identifying and agreeing about frequency of communication, how conflict or misunderstandings are to be resolved, how frequently and what form in-person visits will take, and eventually, which aspects of the relationship are to be private and monogamous and which are to remain “open” … important information that could actually prevent an ill-fated relationship with low odds of survival from perishing as quickly as it most likely already will. The only way it will survive is through the negotiation of expectations about how the connection will grow, dissolve from inertia, or burn out from hurt and disappointment or even betrayal.
6. Any couple who agrees to get to know one another more fully and personally through a long-distance romantic relationship has to be particularly committed to communicating their affection for one another in innovative and creative ways. The usual ways of making dinner or bringing over flowers from the garden are out. Therefore, affection is demonstrated by listening well and surprising your “person” with, for example, a perceived solution to a problem about which you’ve been told or confided in (it doesn’t have to be expensive: it could be a multi-pocket file for receipts you’ve seen on Amazon and have shipped to his home for him, or anything she’s expressed interest in during a conversation, like a macrobiotic cookbook, a book of day trips between your cities of residence, or The Best 50 Movies to Stay Indoors and Watch in Order. Again, 1) anything which conveys you’re always listening, and/or 2) you care.
7. I stated that most all spontaneous actions were off the table in LDRs, but it should never FEEL like that’s the case. It should always feel SAFE to know that if an argument, disagreement, or misunderstanding gets bad enough, one of you will always do whatever is necessary to get things back on track. It really only even requires minimal effort to get in ones’ car and drive 70 miles to sit with each other, devote your undivided attention to working things out, and engage in whatever makeup activity you rely on to demonstrate the relationship is back on track and (hopefully) stronger for the experience. This shouldn’t be required often, but when one partner is willing to initiate a “salvage action” such as this, it needs to be received as the brave show of strength and caring that it is. The partners in this relationship need to explicitly state – as frequently as necessary – that this kind of act is a passionate expression of devotion, and it should always be received with appreciation and NEVER criticism.
8. While both parties are getting to know one another in a (at least) loosely planned and agreed upon way, they shouldn’t feel rushed to introduce their new partners to friends and family members right away unless 1) both parters really want to, or 2) they desire the input of friends and family. But don’t forget that the primary goal at this stage in the process is for the two individuals to get to know one another further on as many levels as possible: the physical and flirtatious, the superficial (such as “small talk” and learning what can be safely shared about your person in public), the emotionally meaningful and deeply revealing, and your person’s history and story with all its players – grouped in a way significant to the teller. Lastly, these two people must come to know one another intimately. Please use your brains and learn from your heart that the word “intImately” isn’t always synonymous with “sexually.” Often it is, but the role sexual intimacy plays in each romantic pairing is an unique as each individual involved, made further unique by each individual coupling – which multiplies into geometric intimate opportunities of expression for each paired set of two unique individuals.
9. When combined with discretion, the healthiest demonstration of intimacy in a romantic relationship looks like this: It’s important to share some intimate details, some information that makes the sharer vulnerable in some way, as a means for assessing the trustworthiness of the other. The trust may be returned and communicated (or withheld) in many different ways. A sample of these include:
A. how much tenderness and acceptance is granted to the vulnerable partner at the time of the confession or disclosure….
B. how much acceptance is displayed in subsequent actions as they arise,
C. the frequent inclusion of this “secret” in any verbalized list of “Things I Admire About You,” “The Things that Make You My Hero,” “Battles You’ve Fought and Overcome,” or the always effective “Things I Love About You”. This last example is particularly powerful because you are selecting an event in your special person’s life and challenging their beliefs surrounding it in a way sincerely seeks to persuade them they are stronger and more powerful than this belief’s ability to further harm them. It may take some time, but it is one of the most profound and powerful ways one person, through his or her unique way of caring for the other person – combined with his personal generosity of spirit – can lastingly help another.
D. In addition to the already listed reasons, why is the sharing of vulnerability such a rare and valuable benefit within the context of relationships? Because exposing this secret subjects the participant to fear, shame, or some other emotion that reduces their sense of self or self-worth in some significant way. It probably causes them great shame, hurt, or embarrassment. Aside from themselves, you might be one of the very few or only people who have ever been told about this [potentially long-term] pain or profound source of disappointment in their lives. You might have no idea how hard that secret was to share with you; how easy it might have been to never mention it all. But they actually chose to risk further pain and rejection in order to be honest and transparent with you. Why would, aside from an absence of interest, not be wiling to nurture and grow your life-force of life-energy with such a life-affirming activity?
10. Committing to living and (trying at) loving therefore demands a depth of compassion and willingness to treat others well: especially those who entrust their truth to us. We must always treat a vocalized gifting of another’s time, attention, and devotion with the respect and kindness it deserves. Even if you sense an implicit and unspoken yearning for more, you should have already grown into an evolved enough member of the human race to offer this person all the necessary time, honesty, and kindness required to tackle potentially uncomfortable topics like needing change, taking a break, or breaking up all together. The variable which is a non-negotiable is not the WHY, where or who as much as the HOW for such changes. “Why” will always serve a necessary function, but the HOW or the WAY we treat those towards whom we have cared must remain respectful and generous no matter the cost. The reason for this is actually self-serving: treating people poorly and without empathy reduces us more than it reduces them. When you place callousness and deep scar tissue over your heart to protect your own feelings, you not only become less LOVING: you become less LOVABLE. You can not deliberately exact flesh and blood from someone in a breakup without it ultimately exacting a flesh and blood toll from you as well. You will carry that scar tissue and damage into your next attempts at romantic connection and you will find it harder to to love and be loved if you have callously left even one carcass in your path. Karma is truly a bitch.
11. All of these efforts to support your current relationship partner are for naught if he or she isn’t aware of her weak spots, trigger points, and self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors. AND is wiling to do whatever is necessary to unlock these mysteries and eliminate damaging habits and patterns. So another person can NEVER “fix” you if you’re not wiling to try to fix yourself. You do it for you and only for you, because you have to intake oxygen for yourself before you can assist your child. You usually feel worse before you feel better, and it also takes longer than you estimated before you feel any relief. Your romantic partner can be, if you trust him or her, an invaluable player in your holistic healing process. One day the beneficiaries of your hard work will be an expanded and more joyful version of yourself, your children and grandchildren, your parens/siblings/other family members, close friends, co-workers, and hopefully, the same or a better-suited romantic partner for you one day.
12. If and how the current relationship may end notwithstanding, you should treat your partner with 100% of your available time, devotion, and effort during its duration. You are more experienced, more knowledgeable about the current and prior players in your life, more aware of the multiple layers of play in any given situation, more emotionally intelligent, in possession of first-hand experience with difficult and complex situations and problems, more mature and wise, and simply better-equipped to build a healthy and rewarding relationship.