I must admit that I have had a few such relationships and not all of them turned out well. But through those experiences I have found that there are keys to keeping the romance alive, if both parties are willing and determined to make it work. Keep in mind that the length of time you had to get to know the person before you were separated will have a lot to do with how successful your long-distance romance will be.
- Define Your Relationship One of the first things you should do with your long-distance sweetheart is to agree on what the relationship will be going forward: Are you going to be just friends? Intimately connected when it's convenient? Or does this have the makings of a real and solid love affair? Determining limits is of the utmost importance, because as things get difficult, it will help ground the two of you if you know the boundaries of your relationship. It will also help avoid heartache later because you will both know where you stand.
- Be Honest This is very important, and I don't just mean disclosing the superficial things (like where he was when you called and he didn't answer). You must be willing to discuss more sensitive issues, too, like your sex life. If this relationship is to really hold its ground, talking openly and honestly about your sexual needs is one of the biggest keys to success. Generally speaking, communicating openly with your partner about your sex life will allow you to find out if the other person is truly committed to you physically as well as personally. It is not an easy subject to broach, but it can be very revealing in terms of how much the two of you are willing to disclose for the sake of your love. (The only exception I would make to this regards the military: When you or your love is overseas, or fighting in a war, this kind of honesty may be way too much to handle and would be best left to discuss at a more opportune time. Encouragement would be the order of the day until you or he returns home.)
- Exercise Patience Boy, is this one tough! I personally am not a patient woman, and one of the pitfalls for me in long-distance relationships has been the waiting. I recommend that you find things to do here at home to occupy your time. If your career or your children do not keep you busy enough, get involved in some volunteer work or maybe go back to school. The key is to avoid weighing down your long-distance conversations with whining or unrealistic demands, solely because you are bored or missing the other person.
- Give Encouragement This one is so important. I am currently in a wonderful long-distance relationship, and this aspect of it has made it so much more special. I make it a habit to always ask how things are going - with school, work or family - and then proceed to encourage him in those areas where he is especially talented. For instance, he spent some time playing basketball and talking to his son the other day and I was so proud of him because, as a single parent, he is determined to keep the lines of communication open with his teenager. I let him know that and he appreciates it. He also helps me. I am currently trying to prepare for an algebra exam - I am horrible at math - and he is very good at it, so it makes him feel good to be able to assist me. We just do the problems over the phone. Encouragement, assistance and praise work well over email, too. It's also a good idea to "smile over the phone" as much as possible. A good mood from you on days when your partner may be feeling especially needy can make both of you feel better.
If you follow this advice, you will be on the road to making your long-distance relationship last. Even better, it may end someday with the two of you finally in the same place, having learned so much more about each other simply because you had to put in a bit more effort.