Committing to a Long-Distance Relationship
My ex and I found ourselves committing to a long-distance relationship for slightly over a year before we eventually broke up. We met in Singapore and were together for 11 months until we each went abroad to pursue our studies. He left for the United States and I went to Australia. To put things in context, we were separated by 8,000 miles and a 17-hour time difference.
These are the 5 questions I wished I’d asked myself before committing to a long-distance relationship. Hopefully, they will help you make the right decision if you’ve found yourself in a similar predicament.
1. What is your love language?
LDR or not, knowing your own and your partner’s love languages will help you understand how to communicate better and make your partner feel loved and appreciated.
One out of the 5 love languages is Physical Touch. This is defined as the non-verbal use of body language and touch to show your love. Sadly, even in the age of Zoom and FaceTime, this is out of the question in the case of an LDR. If either or worse, both, parties have this as their primary love language, it will be a challenging obstacle to overcome.
When Physical Touch is out of the picture, the other love languages—Acts of Service, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time or Gifts—might end up becoming significantly more important to you or your partner.
This was the case for me. Words of Affirmation was one of my less dominant love languages because I’ve always believed in actions over words. That was the way I communicated my love and felt loved; through Acts of Service and Quality Time. However, I realised how much Words of Affirmation such as encouragement and reassurance became more important when we did long-distance.
On several occasions, my ex would tell me he wished i was more affectionate and compared me to other girlfriends. At that time, comments like these made me feel almost insulted or hurt because it was as if I wasn’t being a good girlfriend.
2. Do your goals align?
Having the same vision and end-goal establishes the fact that the long-distance arrangement fits into your long-term plans as a couple. This will then determine your commitment level to each other, and give you a sense of purpose and motivation to endure the struggles you will face upon committing to a long-distance relationship.
In my opinion, this is the most imperative element to sustaining a successful LDR. If this is not something you establish at the start and both parties aren’t on the same page, chances are, it will get messy and toxic for the both of you. That’s when commitment issues, gaslighting and insecurities may arise.
It’s not an easy conversation to have but trust me, it will save you a lot of time, hurt feelings and money. In my situation, it soon became clear we had different priorities as a couple. Within his first month of being in the U.S., my ex brought up the idea of an open relationship because he wanted to have the full “college experience”.
Having a mini picnic in the Grand Canyon when I first visited my ex in the U.S.
Photo courtesy of Kimberly Chua
3. Are you emotionally independent?
On a physical level, you have to be okay being by yourself, particularly if you’re in an environment where all your friends are coupled up. When you’re in an LDR, being the 3rd or 5th wheel is actually the norm.
On an emotional level, if you rely solely on your partner for support, being apart will be extremely difficult, especially if you’re battling time zones. This also puts a lot of pressure on your partner to live up to expectations and to “be there for you” all the time. Over time, this can become very draining.
Personally, I found constantly needing to be at the beck and call of my ex extremely exhausting. I would wake up in the wee hours of the night just to talk to him for hours, and it affected my own personal well-being.
4. Do you have trust issues?
Being in an LDR means not always knowing what your partner is up to or how they are spending their day. For example, when I went to bed, my ex would be starting his day. Most of the time, I didn’t know what he was doing in the day or what his plans were until we found time to talk. That ambiguity is something you have to be okay with at times.
If the sound of that makes you feel squeamish and you’re already battling insecurities in your relationship, committing to a long-distance relationship will only amplify those issues and make things worse.
5. Can you afford it?
I firmly believe that money should never be a deciding factor in any relationship. But it can put a strain on couples in an LDR, particularly if you’re doing it long-term and your partner lives across the globe.
My 26-hour journey with 3 stopovers: SIN-NRT-SFO-PHX
Travel is expensive. Within a year, I made 2 trips to the United States. The airfare alone cost me almost S$4,000 and around 100 hours of flying. That’s where all my savings went that year, to say the least. Was it worth it? My answer is a resounding “no”, but only because he wasn’t worth it. My biggest takeaway from the relationship was learning the difference between moving on and giving up; some things (or people) just aren’t worth fighting for.
Ask Yourself These 5 Questions Before Embarking On A Long-Distance Relationship
Truth is, every relationship is different and embarking on an LDR is not necessarily the end of one. Sometimes, they are worth the hassle and can strengthen the relationship.
Long-distance relationships are not impossible, but they are definitely not for everybody (and, that’s okay).