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Why my long-distance relationship worked when most don’t

It’s safe to say most long-distance relationships don’t end well.

My long-distance relationship started out reluctantly when my best friend Danielle kept pushing me to meet the man who would become my future husband. She wouldn’t shut up about her boyfriend’s friend, Ethan, whom she insisted was perfect for me. I didn’t want to be in a long-distance relationship, especially with someone in New York (I was in Los Angeles) and neither did he. So, Danielle did what any best friend would do. She lied to him by saying I was bicoastal and then annoyed me relentlessly until I accepted his friend request on Facebook.

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One afternoon, I was busy organizing my closet by color (I don’t Kondo) when I received a message from Ethan. I explained to him that I was in the middle of a very important project and needed my hands free, so if he wanted to talk, he’d have to give me a call. I was shocked when the phone rang. It turns out that Ethan grew up just a few blocks from where I did on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. When I asked him if his family also ordered from the same local Chinese food restaurant, he recited the phone number. From that moment on, I was in love. One year to the day of that call, he asked me to marry him.

If this sounds like a fairy tale, it’s because our relationship kind of is. Our life circumstances were incredibly unique and this is how we managed to skirt the inevitable long-distance relationship doom.

We didn’t count texting as communication

If you and your partner aren’t good at communicating, you might as well break up now (or, you know, work on it). At the time Ethan and I started dating, he was actually a communications professor, so he knew what he was doing. One challenge we faced was the time difference between New York and Los Angeles. Three hours doesn’t seem like that big of a deal… until you hear your partner snoring at 9:30 p.m. in the middle of a deep conversation about Real Housewives.

Whether it was for hours or minutes, Ethan and I spoke every single day we were apart. It doesn’t matter how busy you are because everyone has a few minutes. And no, texting doesn’t count as a phone call, but you do get bonus points for Skype and FaceTime.

Our relationship took place IRL most of the time

Sexting is not sex. You need to see each other as much as possible. Ethan and I never spent more than five weeks apart. We could only do this because I’m a freelancer, so I can work from anywhere. I was able to go to New York for weeks at a time. If you added up all the hours we spent together, it was probably just as much, if not more than couples in traditional relationships with full-time jobs.

If our love was not meant to be, we would have realized rather quickly. Dribs and drabs of visits can be fun and wonderful, but they can’t determine if you are really compatible. Unfortunately, this is a characteristic of most long-distance relationships.

Our visits didn’t feel like vacations

Getting away to see your partner is so nice. You get to try new restaurants and explore a new place. It feels just like a vacation (at least for one partner), but nothing like real life. Here’s the problem: Relationships don’t live on vacation (though, wouldn’t it be nice?).

Seeing Ethan never felt even remotely like a vacation. We worked, bought groceries and did laundry. Our lives in New York were much like our lives in Los Angeles now, but with less sunshine and more coats.

Relocation was inevitable

Long-distance relationships fail unless they just become relationships. Or perhaps you can figure out which airline has the best food. After all, who doesn’t love TSA lines and washing their hands in tiny sinks? At some point, someone has to move and very likely change jobs. That’s just the way it works. As with all relationships, there is compromise. The good news is that after relocating, deciding between pizza and sushi for dinner will feel really easy.

More: I moved across the world for love — and it failed

Ethan and I were actually both willing to move. The caveat was that Ethan was waiting for a promotion at work. If he got it, I would move to New York City. If he didn’t, he would move to Los Angeles. This process took months and for a while, we really had no idea where we going to live, except for with each other. He ended up getting his dream job in Los Angeles. I ended up getting my man and the preferred climate. But, the lesson here is that you have to be patient and work with each other for the sake of the relationship.

We made the best of our time together

As unrealistic as it sounds, Ethan and I treasured every moment we had. Whether it was a romantic walk in Central Park with our dogs or a fancy dinner out, we realized how important it was to live in the moment and create moments while you have the chance. Although we’ve lived together for a while now, this has stayed with us and made our relationship stronger.

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