I sit down to write this article and glance at my calendar: Twelve more days till we see each other again. Twenty-two more days till we say “I do.”
This past year of being 4,500 kilometers away from the man I love has been anything but easy. I never realized the power of physical contact until I started dating long-distance.
One embrace can say more than a thousand “I love yous”. A single post-argument hug can give more closure and healing than a thousand apologies. But in a long-distance relationship, all you have are words. And staring at each other’s faces on a screen.
I don’t know how many times I have escaped to the bathroom or gone home and cried after spending time with other couples. I was sincerely happy for them, but seeing them together only made me miss Y (my fiancé) more than ever.
There were times I felt like I couldn’t take it any longer. But I knew that it was God who had brought us into this relationship. I also knew that it was in obedience to Him that we ended up thousands of kilometers apart. It was in our commitment to obey Him that we committed ourselves to each other, even from far away. I knew that if long-distance dating was part of His plan for us, He would provide the strength I needed. And He has.
This experience has served as yet another reminder to me that God’s plans are always infinitely better than ours. Hard as it has been, dating long-distance has strengthened our relationship incredibly, and I know it was worth it.
So what made our long-distance relationship possible?
But for real, I don’t know if I would have been able to make it this far if it weren’t for modern technology which allowed us to keep in close touch. But, as we all know, technology alone cannot sustain any relationship, as it is only a tool.
Here are three things (besides my phone) that helped me and Y get to where we are now.
1. Truthfulness and Trust
Trust is a crucial part of any relationship, especially romantic ones. But I can never over-stress the importance of trust in a long-distance relationship.
It takes trust to begin a relationship, and even more to maintain that relationship long-distance. Because, when you aren’t physically together, you can only see and know what the other person presents to you.
The less the evidence, the harder it is to believe something. That is where trust comes in. Trust is something to be earned, and it is earned by being truthful. Even trust that is already established can be easily destroyed by dishonesty.
In my experience of long-distance dating, I only knew what Y told me or what I saw over video call. Because of this, even the slightest inconsistency in something he said made me question his truthfulness. Even if it was something small, I would think, “If he’s not being honest about this, what else could he be hiding from me?”
In my opinion, the only way to resolve these questions is to honestly ask the other person about it. (That is, in the case that you already have a certain level of trust.) These misunderstandings were not a frequent occurrence for us. But whenever it did happen, I would ask him about it, and that always cleared any misunderstandings.
At first, it was hard, but gradually, as our relationship became stronger and my trust for him grew, it became easier to simply ask him whenever something didn’t seem to be matching up. If his answer was reasonable, I would then choose to believe what he said, reminding myself that he had already proven to me his trustworthiness.
We have both learned that even seemingly harmless “lies,” such as saying “I’m okay” when we really aren’t, can be very harmful to our relationship. If you don’t want the other person to worry, or if you don’t want to talk about it for some reason, try saying something like: “I’m not doing great because of such-and-such, but I’m okay” or “I’m not okay but I’m not ready to talk about it yet” instead.
If you aren’t intentional about being transparent and choosing to trust, chances are, your long-distance relationship won’t last.
2. Consistent Communication
We all know that good communication is an essential part of every healthy relationship. It is the key to maintaining trust and transparency.
In a long-distance relationship, frequent communication is good, but being consistent is even more important.
Being consistent with communication means sending random texts throughout the day just to let them know you’re thinking of them, or that you’re okay.
Avoid making your partner worry by taking longer than usual to answer messages. Let them know ahead of time if you know that you won’t be able to answer messages for a longer period of time than normal.
Texting each other throughout the day is a great way to stay connected, but it can’t take the place of voice or video calls. Seeing the other person’s face and hearing their voice can significantly reduce the number of misunderstandings that texting can cause. It’s the best form of “quality time” that you can have in a long-distance relationship.
A few months into our long-distance relationship, we decided to pray together every night before we went to bed. This resulted in us calling every night consistently (before then we hadn’t been) no matter how busy we were or how late it got.
Praying together every night drew us closer and strengthened our relationship immensely. But it wasn’t until later that I realized how much calling to talk (instead of texting only) every day made a difference in addition to the connection the joint prayer had brought.
3. Prioritize Each Other
Cultivating relationships takes time. In order to build a relationship that eventually leads to marriage, you have to prioritize each other. This is easier said than done, especially when you are not physically near each other.
In a long-distance relationship, you don’t get to do things together like “normal” couples do. And because all of your time spent together is via texting or calling, other people tend to not realize that you are spending time with your significant other. Even when they do, they don’t seem to realize the importance of what you are doing.
They often don’t give you the time and space that they would normally give to a couple that they can see spending time together. Because of this, it’s easy to end up putting your relationship on the back burner because you feel like you need to attend to the people around you instead of “being on your phone.”
I am not saying that we should neglect the other relationships in our lives. But we should prioritize our significant other.
It took me a long time, but eventually, I realized that I could – and should – say no to invitations, or not stay out late, simply because “I need to go home and call Y.”
Bottom Line – Faith and Love
Dating long-distance is hard. Very hard. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance.
I have always been known as “the patient one” in my family. But this past year has taught me patience like never before. It has at times pushed my perseverance past what I thought were its limits.
The only reason Y and I have been able to make it this far is because of our common faith. Knowing that Y loves God and that we are both living to glorify that same God is what made it possible for me to trust him, even from far away.
Recognizing the love we have for each other as a gift from God is what motivates us to cherish and cultivate it. It’s what gives us the commitment we have for each other and makes us resolve to protect and fight for it at all costs.
Long-distance relationships are not easy, and they aren’t for everyone. But if you believe that God is leading you into a relationship with someone, don’t let long-distance (or the possibility of it) prevent you from making that commitment.
We TCKs already have the advantage of being used to all kinds of long-distance relationships. With intentional honesty and loving communication, along with perseverance and proper prioritization, all while relying on the strength that God provides, it is possible and well worth it.
And remember: Every day away from each other is one day closer to being together again.
TCKs for Christ: Administrator
is an ATCK with Japanese-American citizenship who grew up in Japan, and has never been to the USA. She is currently an English teacher in Japan, and also loves to bake, cook, read, play the piano, and spend time in nature. Hannah wishes to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible as she adjusts to married life and prepares to move (again!). Connect with her on Instagram @Hannah_Po.