May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other. (Genesis 31:49)
Years ago, I excitedly told my coworker that I was going to visit my then boyfriend (now husband), and he asked me where my boyfriend lived. I explained that he lived in California, and this elicited an eyebrow raise accompanied by a smirk that showed me he thought I was naive. He went on to say, “Long-distance relationships don’t work, but whatever floats your boat.”
Well, that relationship worked out and we’ve been married for almost six years. There is a stigma that comes with long-distance relationships, and I even promised myself I would never have one. I can tell you now with conviction that it’s possible and can be wonderful despite the disadvantages.
Whether you’re a few hours away or a few countries away, it can seem impossible to tend to the heart of another person with the distractions of a modern world. Fortunately, our technology has caught up with our age-old way of finding love from afar, and it’s really likely that you can keep your long-distance relationship stronger than ever. There are obviously pros and cons, so if you’re in one, you can relate. If you’ve avoided them like the plague, I aim to give you some hope if you do encounter this situation unexpectedly.
What Makes It Worth It
I was not looking for a relationship when I found myself attracted to a handsome young man during a trip to Los Angeles with my friends. In fact, my thought after meeting him was “He’s great. Too bad I live in Hawaii.” Moving on. It wasn’t until we later connected on social media that I noted our similar interests in art, faith, culture and family. Once we began talking, short messages turned into lengthy emails where his amazing personality really began to shine through. The great thing about a long-distance relationship is that all you really can do is talk. Communication is one of the keys to a healthy relationship, and setting a great foundation in the beginning will help you in your future with him.
After picking him up from the airport or making that long drive to see him, your heart will dance and your face will light up because whatever time you have together will be all about the two of you. Knowing that you only have a few days or weeks with him will force you to incorporate him into your daily life for the time being, and pack as much fun into your visit as possible. Let’s be honest—you will probably be on your best behavior as well, so the likelihood is that arguments and conflict will be at a minimum (hopefully).
When you put your phone down, close your laptop and go offline for the day, you’re free to live your life as usual. This is great because you can see things in perspective and keep from getting overly consumed with someone you’re falling in love with. When my feelings got stronger, I always had to check in with myself and those I trusted to make sure I wasn’t stepping away from God’s path for me.
Being able to mostly focus on yourself and your walk with The Lord isn’t something you’re always able to do when you’re a short drive away and have to make constant considerations for one-on-one time with someone else. It’s also easier (not easy, but easier) to avoid temptation and keep yourselves pure for God.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. (Proverbs 4:26)
Why It’s Difficult
I know we don’t want to talk about the nitty-gritty, but it’s important to take that into consideration, too. Having someone to talk to at the end of the day and share your inner thoughts with is wonderful, but the cost of distance is missing them terribly. Have you ever heard of the term “lovesick”? That was me after every single conversation with my beau. If they’re having those same feelings, you may wonder if you both will have the strength to avoid the temptation of being with someone else.
Also, having a major time difference and a busy schedule, like we did, will throw more variables into the equation. There were many times when I was just getting home from work, and it was already midnight on his end. Falling asleep on the phone or being late for your job because you didn’t get any sleep is not an ideal situation.
I always believed that if you really want to know someone, you should witness how they interact with their friends and family. When you hardly have time in the same space, that’s very hard to do. You’ll hardly get a taste of their world, let alone their inner circle. If you live in the same town, going to their parents’ place for dinner so that they can get to know you (and be sure you’re not a crazy person) is a lot more doable. Trying to cram all of that into your visits together takes a lot more work and can seem like you’re being interrogated—which is normal because their loved ones hardly know you. Not to mention the financial burden of gas or plane tickets when you don’t exactly have a ton of expendable cash.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)
Not all of these things will apply to all long-distance relationships, but hopefully this is a start to gaining a better understanding of what it entails. You may think that this requires too much of you, but honestly there are pros and cons to any relationship. If it’s God’s will, He will make it work.
Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? If so, how was your experience?