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We Spoke To Three Couples About What It Takes To Make Long-Distance Relationships Work

Despite the distance and despite the naysayers, these couples have figured out what it takes to make it work.

Love & Relationships

"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.

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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)."

Featured image by Shutterstock

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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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