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7 tips to survive a long-distance relationship

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

Are you feeling lonely with Valentine's Day coming up because you're in a long-distance relationship and your partner is far, far away? While couples who live apart from each other do find it tougher to cope, you can overcome the challenges of an LDR. Here's how I did. Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh

My boyfriend and I were in a long-distance relationship for two years. He was studying in the United States while I was working here in India.

For all those times I've been asked, 'Isn't it difficult to maintain a long-distance relationship?', the answer is YES, it most definitely is.

From finding ways to make cheap ISD calls to giving up on sleep just to be there for the other, the physical distance was taxing on both of us. Sometimes you're tired of waiting for that call your partner promised to make four hours ago, at others you're still nursing a grudge over a two week-old disagreement.

While such challenges may arise in any relationship, they are definitely harder on long-distance couples. After subtracting the time we sulked, waited, complained and argued during each conversation, it was enough to make both of us feel like we were heading towards heartbreak.

So how does one surpass physical boundaries, time differences and the turmoil of emotion to keep the flame burning in a relationship? Best of all, how did we do it?

Let me share with you seven easy tried and tested tips to survive your long-distance relationship. Read on.

1. Experiment with the way you communicate

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

Long-distance relationships either mean endless communication or lack of it.

No matter what stage of a relationship you're in, there are countless situations in which you have to say 'sorry', 'thank you', 'miss you' or 'I love you' to each other.

While calling, texting and video-chatting are all here for good, how about sending a cute voice mail in the middle of a busy day just to make your partner feel good?

Once when I had to sleep early and missed out on talking to my boyfriend, he drew me a cartoon of a lonely guy with a speech bubble to tell me how much he missed me. The next day I realised that this was certainly more welcome than a text message telling me he was lonely.

Too busy to put time into it? Buy a card, draw some smileys and hearts on it and post it the old-fashioned way to your loved one. Or shoot and share a video that will make your partner feel special. Use your resources creatively and you are all set to roll.

2. Plan surprises

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

So what if Valentine's Day just got over or his/her birthday is six months away?

Who doesn't like receiving surprise gifts?

While lavishing presents on your loved one on a special day is predictable and expected, sending across a box of chocolates or a DVD of his/her favourite movie in the middle of a week is unpredictable, thoughtful and sure to make your partner feel good. Girls love flowers, so you can have a lovely fresh bouquet delivered too.

With international options now available online to send across flowers, chocolates or practically any romantic gift under the sun, you can definitely give this suggestion a try.

3. Enjoy your independence and don't be overly possessive

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

Did your partner just inform you that s/he has decided to spend an entire week with his/her friends on vacation?

While sulking may seem like a natural reaction, given the fact that the two of you haven't had enough time to catch up for weeks or months together, don't give in to your negative emotions.

Tell yourself that this is the perfect time to have some fun yourself.

Girls, go shopping with your friends, pamper yourself at the newly opened spa in town or catc up with old galpals from school.

Guys, how about a game of cricket or football with your buddies? Or go watch the recently-released action flick that you know your girlfriend would never watch with you!

When it comes to enjoying your independence, you can never run short of ideas.

4. Do things together even when you're apart

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

This may seem really crazy to some of you, but trust me, it's fun.

Decide on a food that you both like and reserve a date to cook it together. Although I have tried helping my boyfriend make paneer tikka masala by instructing him over the phone, sometimes it helps sharing the same over video. Not to forget, what was lunch for me was dinner for him!

Over time, even odd weekend jobs like cleaning the kitchen and organising the wardrobe were fun when we did it together. That way, one of us did not have to wait for the other to finish their task to make time for the other.

And best of all, my mother and his roommates found lesser reason to complain when we were on the phone.

5. Say 'sorry' and 'I love you' often

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

Over two years, I have learnt that the only way you can overcome distance is by improving communication.

While forgiving your partner may seem impossible sometimes, especially when your mind is still in the 'just how could s/he do that' mode, often it is the right thing to do.

It not only helps you cope up with the frustration, it helps you relax and move on. To quote my boyfriend, 'life is too short to stay pissed off all the time'!

Saying 'I love you' is equally important, because I recently realised that even men need reassurance. So don't assume they know it -- just say it.

6. Trust your partner

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

Even as I say this, I have lost count of the number of times my boyfriend and I have argued about situations due to lack of communication.

Believe me, if you are in an LDR, there will be times when your partner does things that seem unacceptable to you. But that doesn't mean you stop on trusting him/her.

Just because you are in a relationship, it doesn't mean that either of you give up on old and cherished pals of the opposite sex.

Similarly, there may be times when a close, well-meaning friend of yours tells you something about your partner that will make you uneasy.

The point I'm making here is that unless you really feel like the issue is worth raising an alarm, the rule of thumb is to trust your partner. In this regard, go with your instinct, not with hearsay.

7. Meet at least once a year

Last updated on: February 8, 2012 18:40 IST

In the two years that we were in a relationship, my boyfriend was in India for a total of 20 days.

And since I did not get a break from my job when he was visiting, we had to make the most of the time we had in hand. We met briefly after work each day, usually for dinner, or on weekends at a friend's place or mine. But each time we met, we clicked a picture together as a keepsake of our time together.

When he returned to the US, it was those pictures that kept us going for the next one year.

Even though I have friends who haven't met their partners for years together and still managed to maintain a steady relationship, I'd say meeting once a year is a must -- it rekindles your love and reminds you of why you're in the relationship.

Of course you'll need to save a considerable sum of money for such a trip, but you can always find a way of cutting back on other expenses to make one trip to meet your loved one.