My name is Cornell Thomas. I’m a speaker, author, and – most importantly – a survivor of the often dreaded long distance relationship. Now before you start calling me Tom Hanks right away, understand that this was NO easy feat.
My wife and I went through several extremely rough patches before we figured out how to make long distance work.
I’m originally from New Jersey, and my wife Melissa is from Washington State, about 50 minutes outside of Seattle. We both attended Minot State University on basketball scholarships. At college, life was good.
We would hangout pretty much everyday and combine our pennies to buy our luxury dinners, which consisted of Raeman Noodles, or anything off the dollar menu from the old golden arches.
Unfortunately, during my senior year, there was a huge elephant in the room. By elephant I mean one the size of Godzilla. You see, I was going back home to pursue my dream of playing professional basketball, while Melissa had one more year left in North Dakota.
What made it even worse was once she was finished with college she was going directly back to Washington State to start her career.
How To Make Long Distance Work: The Real Deal
The first month will always be the honeymoon stage.
You miss each other so much that you don’t want to say or do anything that would make each other upset, or question your relationship. Now if the first month isn’t the honeymoon stage, please STOP reading now and evaluate your relationship.
During our time together at college, Melissa and I rarely argued. I’m super extraverted and she’s a tad introverted. So our “debating” styles were a perfect match. I would say something dumb (because I’m a dude) and she would sit back, take it in, and wait for my brain to come back. I would then apologize, and we were good to go.
It’s amazing how 2,500 miles can change the dynamic of a relationship.
Flash forward a year after Melissa graduated college. You would think that we were practicing for a presidential debate every phone call. We would be arguing on literally the dumbest things you can think of. I will never forget one day when we were arguing, and I just started laughing at how ridiculous we were!
Eventually, after an amazing amount of time, listening, patience – and yes, practice – we were able to figure out the distance. This past May, Melissa and I celebrated our 11th year wedding anniversary.
There were times friends, that I didn’t think we would be together for eleven more minutes, let alone married for 11 years with two beautiful children.
But thanks to these ‘commandments’, we knew how to make long distance work. I hope these would also do well for you:
Without this tip, none of the other tips matter. Understand ONE very important thing: your significant other is not with you! So when you talk about your day, what happened, etc. give them more detail than a Stephen King novel. As guys, we tend to give amazing insight about our day with such gems like “It was good“. Well, that’s not good enough!
We are amazing at waiting to talk – but how many of us actually listen? Actively listen to what your partner is telling you. When your girlfriend says something like “I wish we could see each other for Christmas“, make a note of it. Even if you can’t make it out there, maybe you can send her a video on Christmas of you opening her present, or use Facetime with her. Listen, my friends!
3. Tell the jealousy monster to shut the hell up.
Me and my wife had more arguments when we were apart that first two months than we had the two years prior. Why? It’s because of that darn jealous monster. My wife would go to a basketball game with her girlfriends and the monster would make me ask her 10,000 questions from who was there, to why did the referee look at you during the game?
It seems comical to write, but it’s true. And guess what? It’s normal to wonder. Just don’t assume!
4. Never lose your romance.
How to make long distance work? One of the most romantic things you can do is send a personal letter. Yes, those are when you write words on a piece of paper and put it in something called a mailbox. It shows “effort” and that you actually put some time in.
When you open the mailbox and see a letter from someone you miss and love, it means a lot more than getting a bathroom selfie.
5. Say sorry and freaking mean it!
You cannot use this technique enough, especially to my guys out there. It’s different when you can drive to see her and hoist a radio over your head playing her favorite song outside of her bedroom window.
But when there is distance between the two of you, she needs to not only hear it, but feel your apology when you’re in the wrong. Quick tip fellas: sometimes, say sorry even when you think you’re right. If she’s a keeper, she will eventually come around and appreciate it.
6. Stop taking score.
If you called her 10 times and she called you nine, STOP thinking that she’s beating you in some weird power game you’ve constructed in your mind. Now if you called her 100 times and she hasn’t called you once, that’s a little different. It might be time to move on – or take care of the restraining order, and then move on.
7. Ask yourself how much you love this person.
Whenever you are feeling like this isn’t working, or you might want something else, ask yourself what life would look like without this person. If the love is true and real, this will snap you back to reality.
How To Make Long Distance Work? Just DO It!
My pep talk is simple. YOU CAN DO IT!!!
Thank you for reading my ‘7 Commandments’ to a successful long distance relationship. Now is this going to guarantee you get married tomorrow and start having little ones? Most likely not.
Long distance relationships, like ALL relationships, take a tremendous amount of work. But in the end – trust me when I say this – if you are in the right one, it’s all worth it.