How to have a successful long-distance relationship
Updated: Jul 26, 2022
There is nothing quite like finding that person who just fits...
The one who fits into your life.
Whose body seems to fit perfectly with yours when you snuggle up next to them.
The yin to your yang.
The one you can finally be your true self around.
The partner you could actually see yourself spending the rest of your life with...
When you find a love like this, you want to hold onto it with all of your might. It feels so good to be seen, understood, and cared for this way.
But sometimes, the universe has a different plan for you than a perfect happily ever after with no road blocks along the way. And sometimes that person, the one who checks all the boxes, lives a couple of thousand miles away. Or at least far enough away that you can't spend nearly as much time together as you truly want to.
If this is the case, know that it doesn't mean that you can't have your happily ever after. It just means that there is some soul-growth that needs to happen first. And no matter how painful it feels at the time, trust that it is happening because you are ready to evolve who you are and how you show up in your relationships.
I remember when Tyler and I first met. From the moment I laid my eyes on him, I knew I couldn't let him walk away without introducing myself. I was sober, at work, and he was drinking with his friends. Nerves weren't enough to hold be back from what my intuition was saying. I walked right up to him and handed him my number written on a piece of paper.
Later that weekend, after spending time together and realizing how much we liked each other, he told me that he didn't live in Boston and had to head home to New Jersey.
And here I am writing this five years later. We've been together for four years and have been living in our beautiful home together in San Diego for two years. If you had asked me a few years ago where I thought we'd be, I would have been terrified thinking about how everything could ever work out. And today I'm here writing this to give you the hope that it can. It can work out better than you've ever imagined.
But you have to be willing to surrender to what it is now. You have to be willing to look for the silver lining. You have to stop feeling like a victim of the distance and start using it to your advantage.
If this person is *the one*, then you have to know it your heart that you will find a way to make it work.
But you can't let the distance keep your world small. You can't spend every day cursing that long drive, plane ticket, or the facetime calls that last for hours but never feel remotely as good as one minute in each other's presence.
I would have rolled my eyes in anger if someone told me that the distance was a good thing back then, but now, I'm grateful for it every single day.
Want to know why?
Because unhealthy attachment is the #1 killer of relationships.
I know this because I've been there. When you fall madly in love with someone, you start to see the world differently. That person can become your addiction. You lose sight of yourself as an individual. You only see you two, together, and what you will create and accomplish as a couple.
The truth is that any healthy relationship has three elements:
Your partner's "self" And your "couple"
When each element has an abundance of attention, clarity, and devotion, the relationship thrives.
When one element takes precedence over the other, the relationship becomes volatile.
I believe that long-distance is our greatest teacher in the development of these three elements. If you want your couple to thrive, you have to each be completely devoted to yourselves and to learning what it means to be in a relationship.
If you were given the gift of a long distance relationship, this is your time to PRACTICE.
Your soul is here to learn how to be the fullest expression of you. You can't have a healthy relationship if you don't know yourself or what lights you up from the inside.
Tell me if you resonate with this scenario:
When you get into a relationship, you find yourself wanting to be with that person as much as possible. You begin to feel unhappy when you're with your friends or going out because nothing compares to the sense of peace and happiness you feel when you're with that person. When they visit, you feel amazing. But a sense of complete dread washes over you when they are leaving. Your heart aches. You feel empty without them. You find yourself constantly looking at your phone waiting for their text or call.
That was me for the longest time. Instead of spending my time apart focusing on other pursuits, I would spend it anxiously waiting for the text, facetime date, or next visit to be planned.
Tyler handled things differently. He was so loving, attentive, and kind when we were together. He dreaded leaving too. But as soon as he got on that plane, it was like he disappeared. He got wrapped up in work, studying, going to the gym, and hanging out with his friends. Some days I barely got a text, never mind a phone call. As I started to care about the relationship more, I felt a heaviness in my heart and a little voice in my head telling me he didn't care and that things would never work between us.
Part of Tyler's struggle was that he avoided pain. He avoided his emotions. And he knew how to stay busy. When we would finally talk, he would tell me that he was thinking of me every second for the past few days, but his actions made me feel otherwise.
There were two things we had to learn:
I had to learn to let go of my belief that his lack of communication meant that he didn't love me and learn how to give myself what I needed.
He needed to learn that relationships take time, effort, and communication to work.
I remember sobbing to my dad one day in the middle of a cafe. At this point, I had thoughtfully communicated to Tyler several times what I was needing, but nothing was changing. I asked him "what am I doing wrong? I know he loves me, but why won't he show it?"
I knew that I couldn't go on in a long distance relationship where I received scattered texts and a phone call every few days. I knew that what I was asking for wasn't too much. So why couldn't he make the changes?
We had been doing long distance for about a year.
My dad, who just so happened to be a marriage counselor for over 30 years, said to me "If he's not able to give you what you need, you need to be willing to let go of attachment to the relationship and learn to give it to yourself."
Those words pierced me like a knife. Letting go of attachment to someone who checked all of the boxes? Who made me feel like he did? The person I saw myself marrying?
I felt like I was dying imagining letting him go. And my dad reassured me of this: just because you let go of attachment, doesn't mean that person will leave. Sometimes, it does exactly the opposite.
I went through a dark night of the soul. I used to tell Tyler everything I was feeling and doing. But for the next few weeks, I turned to myself.
I spent a few weeks crying and crying. Grieving this loss that wasn't even a real loss yet. I tapped into some of the deepest attachment wounds within me. The inner child part of me who never got what she needed. Who never felt heard. Who tried to be perfect and still didn't feel good enough. My 19-year old self who had given everything to her boyfriend, only to be cheated on and treated like I didn't matter. I grieved all of these emotions that had been built up inside of me. It was at my weakest moment that I found my deepest strength.
The strength to finally stop begging for others attention and give it to myself. The strength to see my value and not accept less than I deserved. The strength to be willing to let go of a relationship if he wasn't willing to meet me halfway.
I started to make art again, I was journaling, cooking, and focusing on growing my business. I got really clear on my purpose and found ways to fill my time that made me completely forget about my phone.
This subtle shift in energy completely changed the dynamic of our relationship. Because I wasn't playing games. The change was deep. It was an internal shift. Previously, I would have pretended not to care, gone out partying, played it cool for a few days to get his attention, then exploded with anger on our next phone call.
But games don't work. They destroy relationships.
If you want your relationship to work: you have to feel, heal, and find yourself.
And that's exactly what I did. I wasn't perfect with it. I still had my triggers. But anytime I felt abandoned or alone, I turned to myself to fill up my cup.
Suddenly I felt him come towards me again. He acknowledged his lack of effort without me even saying anything about it. I opened up to him about what I had been going through and he felt so sorry. Throughout it all, I knew that it wasn't about how much he loved me. But that tiny voice in my head told me otherwise. It wasn't until I finally healed that part of me that I could stop and see it for what it was.
Eventually, he began calling me every day on his lunch break, texting me more often and initiating more visits. But he was honest with me in saying that being on his phone was difficult and draining for him. We both knew that our relationship couldn't go on like this forever.
When we booked our first trip to California, we didn't know what was in store for us. But as soon as we landed in San Diego, we both felt the same way. With no plans to move yet, we started telling everyone we met that we were considering moving here. The more we spoke about it, the more real it became.
And here I am, sitting by the pool in the sun outside of the condo we share, feeling so incredibly grateful for all of that pain, all of that waiting, for every little step we had to take to get to where we are.
It hasn't been smooth sailing every step of the way, but our relationship gets stronger every single day we are together or apart. We both have learned so much since making this bold leap across the country together.
We both have a deep sense of self and motivation to heal from our childhood traumas that show up in our relationship regularly.
We both have a long list of passions, commitments, and things we are creating.
We both have other friendships and connections outside of the relationship.
We both know each other's love languages and make an effort to honor them daily.
And most importantly, we are together because we add so much value and happiness to each other's lives, not because we are the source of it.
Find that source within yourself, and your relationship will expand in ways you've never imagined.