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Before Agreeing To A Long-Distance Relationship, Consider These 7 Things

A long-distance relationship requires a lot. Then add tax.

Dating

I will never forget when a woman that I know followed a man from DC to Nashville, with absolutely no assurances from him that it was going to turn into something serious, only for him to break up with her and then marry someone else. The woman? She was devastated. It also took her a long time to recover because, although the man did not tell her that he wanted her to come nor did he say that something would come of it if she did, she told me herself that she believed if she took the risk and came anyway, it would convey to him that she was all in which would convince him to reciprocate her intentions.


She is exactly why I thought it was important to write this article. The reality is that around 14 million Americans are in some type of a long-distance relationship. Not only that but statistics reveal that a whopping 75 percent of engaged couples have been in some sort of long-distance situation before (even if it was only for a short period of time) and somewhere around 10 percent of marriages began as a long-distance relationship as well. Clearly they are popular. Clearly some relationships end up becoming long-term. And sometimes, even jumping the broom is the end result. Still, because the marriage rate isn't super high and the woman I told you about isn't exactly an anomaly, if you're someone who's strongly considering getting into a long-distance relationship, here are seven things that I definitely think you should think really long and hard about. First.

1. How Realistic Are You About Relationships, in General?

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Relationships are awesome (well, healthy ones are). You know what else? They tend to require quite a bit of time, effort and energy. That's why, something that I tend to say, pretty much on loop, is if you're a selfish individual, you have absolutely no business being in a relationship — especially when it comes to a long-distance one. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel so automatically entitled in a relationship that they don't even take the time to ponder if they are so self-serving that they are not willing to put in the work that is needed in order to make a relationship thrive and last.

Not only that but when something is long-distance, it can cause them to become pretty unrealistic about relationships, in general, because they have a tendency to be a lot like honeymoons in the sense that, since they don't really get to see their partner all of the time, every time they do, they're so excited that they may not even really get into the day-to-day challenges that seeing each other on the regular typically reveals.

Listen, I know many people who dated long-distance, got married and then, a few years later, either they were absolutely miserable or they ended up calling things off altogether. Why? Because they were so caught up in the romance of it all that they didn't realize they actually didn't know one another as well as they thought they did. That's why, before getting into all of the other things that you should ponder before getting serious with someone who lives in another city, state or even country, you should think long and hard about if you have a tendency to take a realistic approach to relationships or…not.

2. Are You Good at Prioritizing Relationships?

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Straight up, there are some spouses I know who, although they love their partner to pieces, their relationship is still basically hanging on by a thread and it's all because they didn't prepare for how they were going to have to make their union a top priority in their life. In their mind, their marriage was going to be in the top five, for sure, when really, it needs to be right there under God. Everything else comes after (kids included; kids are fine when parents are in a good space).

Not to say that this point isn't something that requires a lot of planning and intention. I mean, there's work, there's family, there are friendships, there are daily to-do lists and schedules, there's "you" time — there's so much besides your relationship that you've got to maintain. And when the person you're dating isn't around you, it can be really easy to push them further and further down your priority list.

I will be the first to say that dating someone is not the same thing as being married to them (check out "7 Things That Make Marriage Different From Seriously Dating"). Where I'm going with this is while I don't think dating someone long-distance requires prioritizing them in the way that you would a spouse, it's still important to keep in mind that even more effort is needed to remain connected to someone who isn't close by. If you're not great at prioritizing or you're a huge procrastinator, that's another reason to consider maybe pumping the brakes on a long-distance situation.

3. What Do Your Finances Look Like?

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Lucky for people now, smartphones are in these streets. Personally, I still remember when there were long-distance carriers and even calling cards. Yeah, talking on the phone in another state could literally end up costing the same as rent, if you weren't careful. Still, even though cells and communication apps like Skype and WhatsApp mean that you can talk to somewhere, literally anywhere, for hours, free of charge, ask someone who's been in a long-distance relationship before and they will tell you that it's a pretty penny investment.

Matter of fact, I recently read that if you're dating someone who lives far enough from you that you choose to fly to where they are and then go on a couple of dates while you're with them, just two of those trips could run you somewhere around $3,696. On the other hand, a couple who lives in the same city can go on a date, once a week, and only pay $2,600 annually to do so. That's a big-time cost difference right there.

Everything worth having is going to cost you on some level. The point here is if money is super tight, you need to really think about if you and (potentially) yours can afford to be in a relationship right now. Better to be honest on the front end, remain friends and perhaps finally prepare for what the future could hold than to get into something that you can't afford and then become resentful when either you can't see each other much or you're pissed because it's draining so much of your wallet(s).

4. How High Is Your Sex Drive?

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I've shared, many times, that I am a marriage life coach. That's a part of the reason why I reference marriage so much (I also am a huge fan of that kind of relationship). And if there is one thing that I find myself constantly dealing with, it's couples who truly underestimated 1) how important sex is in a relationship and 2) how much sex drives can sometimes clash.

Although sex is a vital part of any serious relational dynamic, when you're in a long-distance relationship, unless the two of you mutually decide to wait for a long period of time or even until death parts you, sex can sometimes have even higher expectations because the physical time apart could result in you wanting sex to be more — shoot, more everything. More creative. More passionate. More often. Just more.

The really interesting thing about sex when it comes to long-distance couples is some partners desire visits to be non-stop romps while others could do without the sex because they want to mentally and emotionally connect more instead. There is no right or wrong here. The main point is to be honest about what your actual needs are and, if the two of you have decided to be exclusive, you need to be real with yourself (and them) about if that is something you can realistically be — or not.

5. What Is Your Love Language? What Is His?

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Words of affirmation. Physical touch. Quality time. Acts of service. Gifts. These are the five things that are considered to be love languages (ways that we want love expressed to us). When you're in a relationship with anyone, it's important that you share with them what your two primary love languages are and also that you find out what theirs are in return. Oh but baby, when you're in a long-distance situation, take the relevance of this point up about five notches. Absence can be difficult, so it's crucial that you and yours stay connected by fluently speaking one another's language to each other.

Not only that but…say that you are a big gifts person and your partner is all about physical touch. He can send stuff to you on the regular and cause you to have warm fuzzies. Meanwhile, I don't care how much FaceTime or even phone sex happens between the two of you, he's going to get pretty antsy at some point because he needs to hold hands, cuddle and kiss — even more than you do. So yeah, discussing each other's love languages — and if you both are committed to speaking it to each other on the regular — is also something that is important before making a go of it. Because if neither of you is feeling loved, how can things work? Or last? Especially when there are many miles between you.

6.  Are You Good at Compromising?

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A writer and life coach by the name of Donna Martini once said, "Compromise is not about losing. It's about deciding that the other person has just as much right to be happy with the end result as you do." Lawd. If I could print this on a mug and send it to every long-term couple I know, I most certainly would! Far too many people go into relationships thinking that the objective needs to constantly be about convincing their partner to do what they want or that their way is the "right" way, when it really is much more about learning negotiation skills so that you both can find some common ground.

When you're in a long-distance relationship, especially, you are going to be challenged to be flexible and meet your partner halfway. Sometimes he won't get to come to you, so you'll either have to go out to him or wait. Sometimes there will be things that take precedence that may require you not speaking as long or much as usual. Sometimes you'll have to decide if dragging out an argument is worth the precious time that the two of you have together. Sometimes you're simply going to have to agree to disagree because having peace is more important than proving him wrong (especially when it comes to topics that don't have a real right or wrong, just a different perspective).

Bottom line with this point is lasting relationships require a willingness to bend and — dare I say it — sometimes even sacrifice because sacrifice means giving up one thing for something greater. Hey, if not seeing him for Valentine's Day means that he can stay even longer for your birthday…isn't that a fair compromise in many cases? If you're like, "Hell no. Things need to happen my way or not at all," well, you're probably not the best candidate for a long-distance relationship. Or any relationship, really, now that I think about it.

7. Where Do You Want Your Relationship to Be a Year from Now?

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Long-distance relationships can be frustrating. They require so much that sometimes you're tired of putting so much into it when you're not sure if all of the giving is going to pay off. That's why I'm going to end with the fact that you should also ask yourself if you are contemplating getting into one because you want to semi-casually date or because you want to work towards something far more serious. If the answer is "B", then before making things official, discuss with your prospective partner where both of you would like to see the relationship within the next 12 months.

If marriage is on the table, this means that you both need to start using this time to not only cultivate your relationship but also figure out where you're both going to live, what career shifts need to be made and how you're going to adjust your lives in order to get things to the next level. Off the rip, you're going to be making sacrifices to be together. You need to be crystal clear how many sacrifices need to be required to get to where you both want to go — together.

Trust me, I could come up with several other things that are worth considering when it comes to being in a long-distance relationship. For now, what I will say is that if you take these seriously, it can help you to have a realistic look on this type of dynamic so that you can either get into a long-distance relationship and thrive or decide that it's not the thing for you and wait for what actually…is.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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