Advice About Long-Distance Relationships

We've all seen it.  An otherwise-happy high-school couple experiences angst when one person has to go away for a long period of time. Between college and the military, it's highly likely that a teenage couple will find themselves separated for the first time with no idea how to handle the distance. They may think they do, but the truth is that being away from the one they love can be stressful for anyone. She may not ask your advice, but it will be very helpful if you can provide some sort of insight on what it takes to make a long-distance relationship work. Even if you don't think they can, you should still be able to put the reasons into words. To help you with this, here's some advice I've picked up along the way. 

There has to be a plan. It's one thing if it's just a casual dalliance, but a serious relationship needs to have some sort of plan to eventually be in the same place. Setting a time frame can be difficult when one or both people are in the military, but it makes things infinitely easier if there is at least some sort of "once I graduate/finish my tour/etc, we'll be together" plan. Open-ended separation will likely prove fatal to the relationship.

Communicate often. It doesn't have to be every day, but communicate on a regular basis. If possible, set aside a specific time to talk. Use technology such as chat, Skype or smartphone apps to your advantage. Also, make sure to make the most of the time. You don't have to have deep philosophical discussions every time, but give each call your undivided attention.

Keep the lines of communication open, but live your own life too. Keep a regularly-scheduled time to chat or talk but, aside from that, keep busy. This goes a long way in keeping loneliness at bay, as well as giving you something more to talk about.

Both of you need to be committed to making the relationship work. Both people need to be on the same page for any relationship to work, but this is especially true for long-distance relationships. You both need to put in the necessary time and effort, not just one person. It might not always feel even, but  I can tell you from experience that feeling like you're the only one who cares enough to attend to the relationship breeds resentment that, in many cases, kills any potential there may have been.

Not everyone thinks that long distance relationships can work, but it is very helpful to be able to encourage your teenager when she's feeling lonely. With these pieces of advice, you can help the two of them decide what to do on their own.

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