Long-distance relationships are impossible

I hate our love at a distance

I've never liked Gunslinger, but I find their song "Liebe auf Fern" particularly sore. Who wanna hear that? Who is this song for? I'm pretty sure anyone who's in a long-distance relationship will switch as soon as it comes on the radio. Me for example.

The topic of long-distance relationships is so much a scientific topic that there is even a term for it on English university blogs: the two-body problem. This is supposed to be a moderately funny pun on the three-body problem of physics. It is a matter of calculating the orbits of three celestial bodies that attract each other. Whatever.

The two-body problem specifically means that two people who are in a romantic relationship and both want to work in the academic world do not have an easy lot. A scientific career requires you to move to where your work is and to find two good scientific positions within your commuting distance is difficult in Europe, and virtually impossible in the USA.

Of course, this problem is not unique to academic careers. We tend to move more frequently in order to take up university places, doctoral positions or jobs, sometimes resulting in a long-distance relationship.

My boyfriend and I have had a long-distance relationship between Detroit and Munster for about a year. Exactly, Detroit in the US. The fastest connection from Düsseldorf to Detroit takes 12 hours. The crazy thing is, I think we're doing pretty well. So if you are interested in thoughts and tips about long-distance relationships, read on here.

You need a common plan for the future

The important things first. Despite the glamorous jet set (haha), long-distance relationships are not that great for the vast majority of people and should be ended as soon as possible. Therefore: a plan is needed. Some time ago I heard a couple therapist in the podcast “One Hour Love” from Deutschlandfunk Nova. He said that the most important thing for a relationship is not the common past, much less the current present, but the common future.

I would completely agree, especially for long-distance relationships. It is important that both partners have a common goal for the partnership. I think that's always important, but in a long-distance relationship it becomes even more important. Having a long-distance relationship with the statement “Well, let's have a look” can only go wrong. Then at least one person is too cowardly to break up.

Learn to love the phone

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about the lack of physical closeness in a long-distance relationship. That's annoying but not surprising. But there should still be intimacy. While this usually happens on the side while you spend time together, walking hand in hand through the city and making out on the sofa, in a long-distance relationship it requires more awareness and almost as much time.

With Whatsapp, Skype or Wechat you can make inexpensive and stable (video) calls in most regions of the world, but you have to do that too. If you only talk to each other for fifteen minutes in the evening, you naturally grow apart. It is important to prioritize the time with the partner, even if it is exhausting. Sometimes you have to get a little creative, e.g. to deal with the time difference.

Related: There are good phone dates

I am often asked what to talk about all the time. That is a fair question. If you also want to spend a few hours together, it is exhausting just to generate the conversation from yourself. It's just nice to do something together and talk about it. The classic date is a little more difficult to carry out in a long-distance relationship, but is by no means impossible.

Our favorite date is cooking together. Because of the time difference, it will be dinner for me and lunch for him. We both set up our laptops in the kitchen and Skype while we cook the same dish. It's a fun mix of an interactive cooking show and phone dates. Sometimes we just agree to buy the two of us a chocolate cake and ice cream for the phone call. We also did yoga, played scrabble or took a bath together via Skype.

You could also watch a film or listen to a podcast together, although I find that a little less active.

I find it important, also for the anticipation of actually getting ready for a date. So dress smartly, tidy up the apartment / kitchen and light a few candles, for example. One of the advantages of Skype dates is that you can just as easily wear wool socks with a chic dress instead of high heels.

You also have to discuss difficult topics on the phone

When and how you address things that annoy you in a relationship is an art in itself and I would not claim to be particularly good at it. But if you don't mention for three weeks that it bothers you when your partner calls you in the car and then freaks out completely, that's definitely not ideal. Justified, but not helpful.

Perhaps you have also considered that you would rather do a postdoc in Munich instead of starting at a startup in Berlin, even though your partner would really like to go to Berlin.

Well, the excuse “I don't want to discuss this on the phone” doesn't apply to long-distance relationships.

You can get to know each other very well

While in long-distance relationships you are sometimes unpleasantly surprised by everyday details (how do you drink your coffee now black? Who are you?), You naturally talk more about ideas, conceptions, dreams and goals and thus get to know the other person very well.

Also, the long distance relationship forces a lot more talk about the relationship. This soul-searching can be exhausting but also very rewarding.

Concrete tips

Finally, a few concrete, tried and tested ideas to make the long-distance relationship more bearable.

  • Write love letters. If you thought it was difficult to write a dissertation, try a love letter. Why do the thoughts sound so much better in my head than they do on paper? Still, there is nothing better than receiving love letters.
  • Send little gifts. If the postage to your destination country is very expensive, it is often cheaper to order things online and have them shipped online.
  • Visit each other regularly. Sure, it is time-consuming and expensive and vacation days are suddenly an extremely scarce commodity, but it is also very important to see each other regularly. We can do this about every two months.
  • Do things separately in everyday life together. For example, reading the same book or watching the same series.

Do you have any tips and advice on long-distance relationships? We are very interested!

Author Franziska AlbersPosted on Categories What I've always wanted to say, How is it actually ...? Tags relationship