"I could never be in a long-distance relationship."
I used to tell myself that because I truly thought it was close to, if not, impossible. Whenever the topic would come up, my rebuttal often included questions like, "How would we stay in touch?", "How would I know if he's being honest?" or "How would we stay connected?"
I guess that's why they tell us "never say never" because all of that changed when I met Eric. I went from thinking a long-distance relationship would never work to actually giving it a try. Even though I was adamantly against it initially, Eric convinced me that for nine months, he would drive nine hours as much as he could to see me. I didn't believe he would, but he did at least once or a few times every single month. Now, 14 years later (and married 12 of those 14), we're still together.
Interestingly enough, our experience and similar stories like this ring true for many other people. Recently, xoNecole spoke with three couples to discuss some of the things that have contributed to their successful long-distance relationships, as well as advice and tips for couples who are currently separated by distance. Moreover, all of them previously closed the distance and/or got married, so thankfully their relationships haven't really been affected considering COVID-19 and quarantine.
These couples are real-life examples of the classic statement, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." Despite the distance and despite the naysayers, these couples have figured out what it takes to make long-distance relationships work.
Manning & Katelyn Bennett
Status: Married nine months (Together for three years)
Length of Long-Distance Relationship: Two years
Distance: 850 miles
How They Met: Facebook
Bradley Bolivar & Brianna Friedman
Status: In a relationship for two years
Length of Long-Distance Relationship: Nine months
Distance: 209 miles
How They Met: College pool party
Thornton & Deandra Paul
Status: Married two years
Length of Long-Distance Relationship: Seven months
Distance: 6,000+ miles
How They Met: Nightclub in Dubai
Although you’ve closed the distance now, approximately how often would you see each other?
Manning and Katelyn Bennet: "We would see each other approximately once every two months. Manning would drive alone on the weekends to surprise me, and both of us took turns flying to see each other."
Brianna and Bradley: "We saw each other every two weeks, sometimes once a month, for a few days at a time. Each time, Bradley braved the roads by himself just to come see me and stay with me."
Thornton and Deandra Paul: "Despite the distance (6,000+ miles) and eight-hour time difference, we spoke every day, and saw each other at least once a month - twice in Dubai, three times in London, three times in Boston, and once in Portugal."
What’s the most exciting, exhilarating, or beneficial thing about being in a long-distance relationship?
Manning and Katelyn Bennett: "The traveling alone was thrilling for us. It gave us something to look forward to when we planned dates to see each other."
Brianna and Bradley: "Most exciting thing was the anticipation of knowing when he'll arrive. I'd cook, clean, and make sure everything was ready for him. The most beneficial is getting to really talk and learn one another to the best extent we could. Our connection grew very strong from not being able to see each other."
Thornton and Deandra Paul: "For us, the most exciting part was the opportunity to travel between countries to see each other. Although it was bittersweet every time we had to say goodbye, we were able to enjoy different cities together and make lots of memories early on."
What would you say has helped the most in terms of staying connected and maintaining the relationship despite the distance?
Manning and Katelyn Bennett: "When we started dating, it was really important for us to surround ourselves with like-minded people. We knew there were people who didn't believe in long-distance relationships and doubted the concept. So, we were mindful and cautious about what we shared about our relationship. Nowadays, it's popular to constantly post and publicize your relationship, but we chose not to do that."
Brianna and Bradley: "We FaceTimed a lot, and if we knew we were going to be busy, then we made sure to check-in throughout the day. When Bradley worked overnight shifts, I would stay up as long as I could just to make sure we had time to talk to each other. We often used our voices and body language as signs of love and affection. It was difficult at times, but when you have the connection and the love, it doesn't feel like you're miles away from each other."
Thornton and Deandra Paul: "When we couldn't see each other, FaceTime was our 'savior'. We made sure we spoke multiple times a day. We never skipped a day. Many times, we woke up only to realize that we fell asleep while we were still on the phone."
Oftentimes, there are misconceptions about long-distance relationships. Considering your success, are there any preconceived notions you’d like to demystify?
Manning and Katelyn Bennett: "People often say, 'long-distance relationships don't work,' but they can work if you work it. We made up for the distance by being creative. Ultimately, it's about effort, communication and trust. Because of the distance, we learned how to really communicate, and we built a solid foundation on trust."
Thornton and Deandra Paul: "For a lot of people, long-distance relationships can be daunting. To be honest, neither of us were too keen on being in a long-distance relationship prior to meeting each other. Before we met, Thorton lived in Boston and would have never considered dating someone in New York. However, we've learned that with the right person, distance is irrelevant. When you really want each other, you'll do what it takes to make it work."
"We've learned that with the right person, distance is irrelevant. When you really want each other, you'll do what it takes to make it work."
What did your plan look like for closing the distance, and what would you recommend for those looking to close the distance?
Manning and Katelyn Bennett: "Honestly, we didn't have the luxury of planning and making sure everything was right. It was out of necessity that we chose to close our distance. We knew we loved each other, so we decided to take action. For those who are planning to close the distance, decide on a place that's mutually beneficial for both of you in terms of growth, comfort, and opportunity."
Brianna and Bradley: "We decided to move in together once Brianna's lease was up, and we don't regret it. We're closer now than ever before, and we learn something new about each other every day. It's important to have a plan in place when it comes to closing the distance whether that means moving in or closer to each other. Even if it takes some time, knowing that you have a goal and something to look forward to really makes the experience much more bearable. We reveled in the idea that one day, we were going to spend forever together…talking, cuddling, dancing, laughing and loving each other face-to-face."
Now that you’ve closed the distance, what’s the most significant advice you have for couples who are currently enduring the distance?
Manning and Katelyn Bennett: "Enjoy the distance from each other and take time to learn more about yourself and appreciate the person you are. Do the self-work and focus on your dreams and goals, so that when you close the distance, you'll be able to build and grow together."
Brianna and Bradley: "Stick it out! If you truly want the same things and share the same vision such as holy matrimony or sharing a life together, then the wait and distance will be worth it."
Thornton and Deandra Paul: "Remember to communicate as much as possible, and try to see each other as much as you can (when travel is permitted)."
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