"Don't date him. How are you supposed to keep an eye on him when he's in another state? How can you trust him if you can't keep your eye on him all the time?"

This was the advice given to me about long distance relationships in an attempt to save me from pain. If you feel like you have to keep an eye on your Other then long distance relationships are not for you. If you have been cheated on frequently, dumped a lot, and lied to routinely then long distance relationships may not be the best course of action for you. One of the basic "musts" for a long distance relationship, of any relationship, is trust. You have to trust that the person will be faithful, that they will be honest and that they won't intentionally hurt you. You also have to be absolutely sure that you will be able to remain faithful and honest, and that you would never intentionally hurt them.

When you enter into a long distance relationship you have to be prepared. It's hard. If you've been in one for several months and it's not hard then you should seriously ask yourself why. Because you should miss them so much that every day you're apart feels like a week. You should feel certain degrees of envy when you see other couples holding hands. When I started reaching for a hand that wasn't there, a hand that was two states away and was probably clutching a book at that very moment, I knew I was in trouble. Realizing that you're holding your own hand because you long for him to hold it is a bizarre moment. On some level I knew that I was getting attached to this person, that my happiness began to depend on him. This is where a survival guide becomes handy, as it's when you realize you are attached to someone and that you need them that problems generally start.

Let it out.
Communicating with your loved one at a distance generally tends to distort the message. You can't read their body language and the intent behind their seemingly cruel comment is lost. Maybe they were teasing you, starting some playful banter that people who care about each other often exchange. My point is don't react right away. Ask yourself if the comment is out of character. Don't call them up and start yelling at them and don't bottle it up and try to be the bigger person and let it go. Unfortunately "letting it go" doesn't seem to work that often. All it does is make you unsure of them, of yourself, of the relationship. Eventually these things start eating away at you and then they explode. Something like mentioning an old girlfriend shouldn't be enough to destroy your relationship. If it is, then it probably wasn't meant to be. So if something makes you feel bad, hurt, confused, etc. just ask them about it.

Making time is important.
When you can't see the person you care about all that often, it's important that you make some time to talk to them on the phone, on the internet, however you can. You don't have to carry a cell phone or beeper around so that they can contact you at every given moment during the day, but you might want to consider scheduling a nightly date. A time when the two of you can spend an hour just talking about your respective days. When you keep in touch regularly the distance doesn't seem so much, because even though they aren't there with you it feels like they are. They still get to share in your frustrations and you still get to share in their exciting moments.

Give them a little room.
I know what you're thinking, they're hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles away they have all the room they need. You spend all your time thinking about them, wondering what they're doing, wondering when you'll see them again..they should do the same right? They should send you emails, text messages, letters, leave voice mails for you several times a day. Every day. Wrong. They might have important things going on, sick relatives, exams, hellish deadlines to meet. You can't expect them to be actively thinking about talking to you every second of the day. That doesn't mean that they aren't carrying thoughts of you around with them, it just means that they have responsibilities that they have to take care of. You need to understand when they tell you that it might be a day before you talk to them again. You need to understand if they have to cancel your scheduled date one night because they are behind on work or have a paper to write. You have to be willing to bend.

Get a life.
If all you do is go to work and come home..or worse..you have no job so you sit around bored all day..you're bound to make your situation worse. People with hours of nothing to do think a lot If your loved one is hundreds of miles away and you haven't heard from them all morning your mind will begin to spin tales. Suddenly the absence of your daily "Good Morning" is because they don't really care about you. And if you talk to them online and you have nothing better to do but hang around all day just waiting for them to make an appearance..then POUNCE...well that's no good either. Greeting your loved one is always a joy, but if you then begin IMing them constantly it has the potential to grow annoying. So go outside, enjoy the day, visit with friends, shop, job hunt, watch a movie. Keep yourself occupied or you'll drive yourself and your Other crazy. This doesn't mean that you can't send them a text message when you're thinking about them. Just don't overdo it.

Be true to yourself.
Shakespeare didn't fluff up his plays with extra words the way some of us pack poetic nonsense into our fiction. It is important that throughout any relationship of any kind that you remain true to yourself. Every relationship has bumps in the road and if you feel in your heart that this person means something more to you than just a friend, then you should fight for the relationship. You should work through the problems. You shouldn't give up. But if you are unhappy, if you know that staying in the relationship will only make you both unhappy in the end then you have to be honest. Some things you can't see until it gets to be too late.

Also in this category, don't pretend you're someone you're not. If you have to make yourself into something you're not to please your Other (bedroom fantasy scenarios not included..unless you're doing something you think is icky but they really want to do) then the relationship isn't going to last. You're fooling them and you're making yourself unhappy. It takes a lot of work to keep up the pretense and eventually you'll slip up. Or get so tense with hiding the truth of who you are that it falls apart in an argument that ends the relationship anyway. Just be yourself. If they can't deal, then they're not for you. (note: things like learning to pick up after yourself are not applicable)

I am not a relationship counselor. I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist of any kind. My advice comes from my own experience and the shared experiences of my friends. It's basic. Common sense, really. You just have to recognize when your rational side is on vacation because your heart is involved. Somehow even the smartest people fall victim to the paranoia brought about when you put yourself, and your heart, on the line.

cbustapeck says Also, you can sing "I will survive" =)