I was asked today by someone a bit younger than me if long-distance relationships worked and if she should try to stay with her boyfriend when he joined the military. I reminded her that Iím not a relationship expert, but I do have the benefit of having done the long-distance thing a couple of times with different results so I have something to say on the matter.
As much as I would have loved to tell her straight out what to do, I took a slightly different approach and tried to make her think and examine the situation from a few sides. After all, every relationship is different and only the two of you know how things are between you.
What Kind Of Relationship Do You Have?
In the case of my friend, her relationship had been rather on-again-off-again over the last year with the two of them swearing they love each other but having trouble sticking together when push came to shove. My first long distance romance was similar to that, in a sense. A long-distance relationship will put any trouble between you into a brilliant spotlight. If youíre on-again-off-again when youíre together and supposed to be happy, what happens when youíre hundreds or thousands of miles apart?
My second long-distance relationship was much healthier than the first. We were both a bit more grown-up this time around and were confident in who we were individually and as a couple. We hadnít had any trouble with the relationship in the year up to the separation and we didnít have any real trouble when he was gone for months at a time. Suffice to say the fact that I had a second long-distance relationship is a clue about how the first rocky one turned out.
What Kind of People Are You?
It would be a stretch to call me wild and crazy and the same was true for the second guy I dated. The first guy
was a bit more of a follower and often was looking for a good time, even at my expense. Looking back that was clear, but at the time it was a bit more muddled. I asked my friend, especially knowing they had problems in the past, to dissect what kind of people they really are Ė is either one of them likely to put personal desire for fun and adventure ahead of the relationship? Could the relationship coexist easily with their lifestyles?
Letís say I wasnít especially shocked when she realized that her guy would likely spend significant amounts of time out with buddies surrounded by other young ladies and would likely not have the inner strength to remain true to their relationship if they were still exclusive. That was all she needed to realize it would be best to come back together when his military time was up to see where they were in their lives and determine if they should be together rather than making a commitment beforehand that was easily predicted to fail.
What Communications are Available?
There is one more component to this that makes things a bit different now than even a few years ago. As I am constantly reminded by older friends and relatives, they didnít have millions of minutes on cell phones, texting didnít exist and profile pages or even online pictures werenít invented yet. If your guy
is going a few towns over for school and you can talk with him endlessly and see pictures every night and visit on the weekends, youíre not going to be under as much pressure as you would if you have to pack your guy off for three months of intense basic training away from most communications. The amount of communication you have can make a significant impact on how well the relationship fares as well.