Sexts and sobbing – the long distance relationship

An awesome personal piece about how to handle the challenges of a long distance relationship from Tom, member of Team Bish.

by Tom Beasley, member of Team Bish

Long distance relationships are f*****g crazy. Anyone who has ever been in one knows that, and anyone who hasn’t desperately needs to know.

In an era when a fifth of relationships begin online, more people than ever are being forced to experience love through the pixelated cipher of a Skype call or the crackly unreliability of a phone line. The way we do relationships is changing dramatically, and distance is becoming a far more common issue.

There’s a lot of detached analysis of long distance relationships on the internet. It’s also often written by someone who has been stung by the struggles inherent within that kind of arrangement. What the internet doesn’t seem to know is that it’s not impossible for a long distance relationship to work out completely.

I have been in a university-induced long distance relationship for well over a year now, and it’s going very well. It’s far from plain sailing and, of course, there have been times when it has been completely unbearable. More than one night has culminated in an attack of pillow tears that outshine even an Oscar-winning actress’s acceptance speech.

In a great article last week [Awww thanks Tom – Justin/Bish], this site provided a number of tips for how to keep a long distance relationship going despite the distance. Amongst the tips was one that stands out as being particularly important – deciding what each of you want from the relationship.

Maintaining a long distance relationship is hard. Really hard. Harder than a rock and a hard place combined.

It’s important at this point to remember that Bish UK doesn’t deal in bulls**t. As such, it’s absolutely imperative that I don’t sugar coat the situation. Maintaining a long distance relationship is hard. Really hard. Harder than a rock and a hard place combined. Hell, it’s even harder than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

The bottom line is that, if both parties really want the long distance relationship to work, then it will. The old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder is entirely true and no feeling can compare to the excitement when your partner appears amongst the crowds at a train station. In fact, the only feeling as intense as that is the pang of sadness when you watch them melt back into those crowds as you say goodbye.

Fortunately, we live in the online age. The phone has always been there, but instantaneous communication through the internet is now easy to access and Skype will very quickly become your best friend. Chatting via Wi-Fi may lack intimacy and sexting certainly can’t match the real thing, but it’s an adequate substitute.

The ability to see your partner’s face and hear their voice is a source of comfort that will prove hugely valuable in maintaining a long distance relationship. You’ll miss touch more than you thought possible, and I can tell you that it certainly doesn’t get any easier, but the separation is manageable without resorting to something radical… like The Big Bang Theory’s remote kissing machine.

All relationships are about communication, and long distance relationships completely rely upon it.

The danger comes if communication slips. All relationships are about communication, and long distance relationships completely rely upon it. If either of you isn’t pulling your weight in terms of talking to each other, it chips away at the relationship. And, as we all know courtesy of Gavin from Autoglass, a chip can easily turn into a crack.

As well as communication, trust is enormously important. If you can’t trust that your partner isn’t hopping into bed with every Tom, Dick and Harry they come across, then there is no way that long distance relationship can be sustained [if you’ve agreed not to sex other people, some people may have different rules – Justin/Bish]. Paranoia can absolutely destroy any relationship and, with the added issue of miles and miles of space, it is amplified a hundred times.

In short, a long distance relationship need not be any less fulfilling than one where you live in each other’s pockets. As long as both parties are prepared to put the effort in, the obstacle of distance can even, somewhat ironically, bring people emotionally closer.

A long distance relationship is far from ideal, but a committed couple can definitely make it work.

Separation need not mean splitting and distance need not mean dumping.

Tom is a journalism student at Bournemouth University and freelance film critic, interested in cinema, politics and education. He’s also an occasional stand-up comic. Read more of his excellent stuff here.