Dhara here. Welcome to my love life :). Here’s a little background on me so that you know exactly what perspective you will be getting. I entered the dating world when I was 15. I got engaged when I was 25. In the decade between my first kiss and my happily ever after, I found myself in a series of long distance relationships. I experienced LDR in all stages of young romance: dating while in highschool and college, dating while working a full time job and traveling each week, distance as an engaged couple, planning a wedding, and even through the first several months of my marriage. The distances varied from as little as 2 hours driving to 10 hours flying to see the person I loved.
As you can imagine, I have plenty of stories and advice to offer from these experiences.
In this series, you will find 4 seperate parts:
Part #1 – Advice on Long Distance Relationships
Part #2 – My Personal Experience in Long Distance Relationships
Part #3 – Advice for Planning a Wedding through Distance
Part #4 – An Interview with my Husband on How to Enrich a Long Distance Marriage
In whatever capacity you chose to consume the content, I hope you are able to not only find comfort knowing you are not alone, but also are able to take away a lesson that can enrich your own relationships! Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or comments; I love to hear the stories of my readers and how my work has impacted them!
PART #1: ADVICE ON LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS
Finding love was always an intentional goal for me. I never saw dating as a casual thing – I viewed it as the only way to meet my life partner. As I navigated a decade of dating and overcame the many challenges, I ultimately learned what I was willing to put into a relationship and just as importantly, I realized what I wanted out of a partnership. As an early teen, I gravitated to a boy that made me giddy; as a young adult, I looked for someone I could be unapologetically myself around, and finally, as I grew into a strong and independent woman, I found that I needed to be with a person whom I could look to at any moment and call my best friend.
Relationships are hard, and Long Distance Relationships add an additional layer of complexity. However, I think what a lot of people want out of love comes down to 5 simple things: passion, respect, security, understanding, and friendship. In order to achieve these things, you have to weigh the cost-benefit of any relationship, especially an LDR, and decide if it is worth the effort.
Below is my best advice for those of you just starting to date:
- Focus on yourself first – make sure you are happy and confident in who you are. This will make it easier to not settle for less than you deserve.
- Don’t look for someone else to complete you – look for someone who enriches you.
- When you are in a LDR, it is imperative that there is a long term commitment in mind, otherwise, you will be wasting your time.
- If you are a fiercely independent person, it is easy to use a long distance relationship as a security blanket. Never commit to a LDR just because you are afraid you will end up alone.
- Don’t lie to your parents or keep the relationship from the people who really care about you. Deep down, they truly want what’s best for you, and if they have not been through the dating scene (a majority of brown parents have not) it’s a very foreign concept to them.
- Although my Indian parents were not thrilled when I started to show interest in dating at such a young age, they trusted me and made me comfortable enough to open up to them. Sometimes this backfired as it often does with parents. However, looking back, I like to think the open communication method was the best way to go. If your parents are super strict, try having more, not less, conversations about what’s important to you that they understand. Baby steps! My parents came a LONG way from when I was a kid (kudos to both my siblings for helping them get there)!
- If your loved ones have their doubts about a prospective partner, hear them out. You don’t have to agree with them, but there is no harm in hearing what concerns them so you can decide for yourself if those concerns are deal breakers.
- Prioritize becoming good friends with a person before jumping into a relationship. The foundation of a solid friendship is so important to the confidence in a relationship. If you’re getting to know him/her through distance, this is especially important.
- Most of you will scrunch up your nose at this one and say “I don’t want to be friendzoned.” Trust me, if there is an attraction between the two of you, the romance part will come – and you will be happy you are friends already so you can be awkward together :)
- This is more for the women out there, but can apply to men as well. Don’t ever do anything you are not ready to do! Go with your gut. Women are born with incredible intuition, the sad thing is when we are young, we rarely listen to it because of the external pressures we face.
- One time, this guy that I was dating long distance was visiting me and he wanted to move things along physically “because we don’t see each other much, so we have to make the most of our time.” I wasn’t ready and I made that known. It doesn’t matter if you live near or far, only take the steps that you are ready for, when you are ready for them – just remember it’s your life, your choice.
Below is my advice for starting to date someone over long distance:
- If you are starting out your relationship with long distance off the bat, accept that this will be much more difficult than if you had built a foundation with your partner before embarking on the challenge of distance together.
- Trust is like a car: it takes a long time to build and only a second to wreck – give yourself grace and time and make giving and receiving trust a priority
- Try to plan your calendars to see each other as often as commitments will allow, and for the times you cannot see each other, prioritize involving each other in your lives. Facetime with friends/family and introduce your significant other to the world you live in so it is not a foreign place when they visit.
- Learn the names and faces of the spots and people important to your significant other and write them down if you have to – but remember them, because this will show you care and bring you closer.
- I would highly recommend making the first in-person visits fairly quickly. I would advise not to prolong this part because speaking for hours and getting to know someone with words, is very different from spending time together and learning their actions.
- People can share the best version of themselves behind technology – phone, text, email, social media, video calls. Only when you are face to face, can you truly decipher if your true colors and their true colors can create the perfect rainbow (I know that’s a super corny line, but this is an article about love, so go with it).