Long Distance Relationships: 5 Basic Principles

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June 2009.
I was about to leave for IIM Ahmedabad in a few days.
And my then boyfriend and I were both immersed in oceans of tears.
With young people becoming more ambitious and willing to move cities for work/studies, long distance relationships and associated challenges are becoming increasingly common. Here’s the first instalment of a series on long distance relationships.

Love in IndiaPhoto by punctuated


The first step to make a long distance relationship work is to really understand and acknowledge the fact that it takes special efforts. If, for example, you and your significant other are college classmates and are meeting each other every day, by default you hardly need any extra efforts to keep the relationship going. The situation changes dramatically as soon as the relationship becomes long distance. Most long distance relationships which fail are the ones where the couple fails to realize that the situation has changed and they need to do something about it.


You have to talk to each other every day, for at least 30 min/1 hour. It might seem too long to some of you. But it’s important to talk for a long time, as people don’t open up until they’ve talked for some time. The initial 5 minutes of a conversation are often spent in hi-hello-‘how’re you’s. If you don’t spend at least 30 minutes you won’t know about what’s really going on in the other person’s mental world, the concerns that they have, what they really feel about you etc. We unknowingly waste a lot of time watching TV, surfing the Net and reading other people’s status messages. If you think you genuinely don’t have 30 minutes per day for your boyfriend/girlfriend then this is probably not the right time for you to have a relationship.

Love in IndiaPhoto by Foxtongue

3.Visit often

It’s essential you visit each other as often as your time and budget permits. Talking over the phone for five hours a day can’t make up for face to face communication. Because communication is not just words. Nothing can make up for actually looking at the eyes and the smile of your loved one. Same for them.

4.Learn to trust

When a relationship becomes long-distance it becomes a testing ground for something essential to the success of the relationship-mutual trust. If you’re the suspicion-obsessed ever-interrogator, a long distance relationship is a great chance for you to learn to let go. Letting go doesn’t mean deciding not to concern yourself with whatever your boyfriend/girlfriend might be doing. It means accepting the fact that they have a life of their own and you can’t always get to know whatever is going on there. Don’t get neurotic if they don’t pick up one call of yours or doesn’t reply to your messages immediately.

5.Being there

You’re in a relationship, right? You’re their support, inspiration, shoulder to cry on. You have to be there for them when they need you. You can’t be too busy for that. If they’re going through difficult times, they should feel completely free to call you first.

In the next instalment we’ll talk about activities you can engage in to liven up your long distance relationship. Till then, share your experiences of handling your long distance relationship with us by leaving a comment.

11 thoughts on “Long Distance Relationships: 5 Basic Principles”

  1. Very well written article. When in a long distance relationship acknowledging that your partner will have a different social life is very important. By different social life I mean new friends circle, adjusting to a new environment etc. That is where trust comes in. I would like to add one thing. If the distance is too far (e.g.- USA) visiting often is just not an option. In these cases, it is important to have a long term planning. There must be something to look forward to in the relationship like the effort from the other side to move to the same country. A LDR without even the hope of reuniting in a foreseeable can take a tremendous toll on the relationship.

    1. It’s a very important point that you’ve mentioned, Tamoghna. You have to have a plan as to how long you’re both willing to stay in a long distance relationship. You need to established timelines by which you’d have taken certain steps (like applying for jobs etc) which would bring you together. In an LDR everything can’t depend on which direction one person’s career is going to go in. You need to have clear goals related to by what time you’re going to be physically together and how you’re going to achieve that.
      Thanks for commenting. :)

  2. trust is the key. but often long distance relations leads loneliness. so a person may start looking for a support. which may eventually lead to a new relation.

    1. That’s true. But that happens only if distance has already has its toll on the relationship and the relationship is already crumbling. The key is to not let the distance eat up the warmth in the relationship in the first place. If that happens you’ll hardly need to look for support from people with whom you can get involved.
      Thanks for commenting Himanshu. :)

  3. The biggest challenge is understanding what a girl wants… coz she says something, and means something entirely different…

  4. Hi,
    I have the problem don’t know how to tell u. let me tell in as simple as possible.

    t am a south indian gal…I am in relationship with my college friend. We dint love during college days but after 2 years of college somehow we were in touch as friends, and we committed when he was suffering from a bad experience from a cheater bitch. I gave my heart to him when I was consoling him to forget her and he started loving me may be to forget her.

    After commitment we got to know that our nature is completely different… we started figthings..Possesiveness bla bla… but we still feel we are not made for each other but we love each other a lot.

    We became serious about life and thought to convince parents first and to get married… he told he will convince first then I can talk to my family people.. We neglected unless a marriage proposal came for him, but he tried telling his parents he don’t want to get married so soon … but when a marriage proposal came for me, even I avoided telling my family the same.. But somehow we could not resist what was next… as next day itself the groom side people were ready come and see me even horoscope were matched.. so I had to tell my family memebers in this situation I told the everything and my relatives were Ok and asked to call my boyfriend to meet our relatives and family…

    Finally, the time came to tell his father he said that I am his college friend and we know each other very well for 8 years… so we want get married each other… His father is village person, and he shouted at son… saying we can’t live anywhere if he marries me… because my caste is SC and my boyfriends is OBC… In there village our caste people are below poverty line. But in actual my family is well settled in Bangalore… My uncle is prestigious fellow at Indian govt level. Nobody can tell us we are Sc’s we live like any more than middle class families.

    My boyfriend just repeatedly said the same thing for 3 to 4 times giving a gap between weeks….‘I am his college friend and we know each other very well for 8 years… so we want to married each other’… His father got annoyed and started blackmailing my lover saying that as a father he has sold property for my boyfriend study’s and only returns father is expecting is the respect towards parents and maintains the same at society level. My boyfriend is very weak he never says NO to his father… but anyhow before apporoaching to father he told too his mom, mom at first said No and later she wanted son’s happiness she said ur father will not agree for sure.. He will die but will not agree… initially mom was supporting my Boy friend… but later she couldn’t see her husband getting health issues like low BP…and mental illness.. His father will talk some nonsence stuffs…
    His father in turn blackmailed to get marry in there caste of father’s choice and maintain the respect he has given to parents… because ppl surrounding him were talking abt my boyfriends marriage as he is eldest son.

    After all this I told my family that I am loving my close friend and we were about to tell only when guys family will agree… my relatives dosen’t have issues.. But my mom has same caste problem… but I am sure if all relatives have agreed she will agree later for sure…

    I told my boyfriend that I will come to there village and together we will beg your parents to accept me. But my boyfriend said it’s a bad idea and his father may turn villain. The problem is my boyfriend family is one isolated family and they don’t talk to any relatives even there own father and mother… I mean to say my boyfriend’s grandparents. His father has fought something in the past.

    So if we go together… his father may get annoyed at me and may do something.

    2nd idea was my boyfriend should come and give gurantee to my family abt wat he is doing. But my boyfriend is a shy and scared to face so many relatives(12 elders) in our family so he always skipped this topic and I said my relatives that he is busy all the time in office.

    Whatever, I planned next to go alone to village without knowing to my boyfriend, but that was an indeed bad idea to enter a family where I don’t know people and how can I voluntarily go to there house? And talk about my intro and marriage, so I dropped.

    We tried my boyfriend’s mama (mom’s younger brother)- he was little close to his father compared to all relatives. He too said he will help at first looking the sadness of my boyfriend… but later he too backed out saying his father is too rigid and even he (mama) can’t convince my boyfriends father.

    My boyfriend went to onsite for work purpose… all these were happening in his presence when he came to India in-between.

    When he was away from me and family… he got more depressed thinking abt how to convince… he indeed planned that he will not call home continiously but once in 2 weeks… he executed.. may be because of that his father was worried with a doubt that my boyfriend is already started to stay with me in onsite location. TO SAY in short… his father became even more rigid.

    I tried to explain my boyfriend to talk regularly but he always made my mouth shut by saying he knows his family members and he knows how to convince. I couldn’t say a word.

    Almost one and half year of his deputation at onsite…Because of this worries. We started fights more.. I was more possessive and worried about him… and scared that he will run away from me and look for another gal because of this marriage frustration. He was busy in office work from morning 8 to night 11. Whenever I called him, he said he is busy… our calls and video chats were reduced from hours to minutes… we felt depressed by talking to each other… I almost begged him to care about me that I am crying but his worries and daily routine were more than me.
    Even he wantlgly also he couldn’t talk to me because of my investigations and tracking on his mails and chats with gals.

    I am sad as usual but the reason of my marriage has changed from Love(to sadness irritated with each others talks ,taunts, worries, I don’t know right now I just wanted to marry him only for the mistake we did. Our true love is lost somewhere… he is coming back to india permantly this month… even my family is waiting for him to come and talk,, but he was always not ready to talk with my family unless he gets some elderly support from his relatives or family ppl, which he is not getting obviously, to come and talk with our family.

    I am proud of whatever my boyfriend’s maturity in approaching parents and plan of meeting my family process. But we right now have no clue what will happens if we can’t marry. I can’t stay without him but

    Please help me 

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