Long distance relationships, like all internet-only friendships, are curated. You decide what to share and how. You can filter and edit your thoughts before pressing ‘send’. With the ability to screen calls and delay answering messages, you can guarantee that you only talk to your partner when you are in a good mood.
When you’re in a new relationship, it’s natural to want to present your very best self. It can be tempting to hide your quirks and flaws—to put your best foot forward—but this is something that will only hurt your relationship in the long run. It’s much better to be yourself—all of yourself—right from the start.
Here are four things you can do to be authentic in your long distance relationship.
One of the dangers of long distance dating is that you will build the other person up in your mind so much that you create a vision of someone quite different from the person who is actually on the other end of the line. Another danger is that you will make yourself seem like a person that you are not.
In the long run, your relationship will be far more difficult if it turns out that you don’t really know each other, both at your best and your worst. Put forth a conscious effort to be honest about who you are. Make sure you and your lover are on the same page about this. Let them know that you are trying not to filter yourself or worry too much about making a good impression, and ask them to do the same.
2. Share your struggles
There’s nothing like crying on someone’s shoulder, but talking over a problem or frustration can be just as therapeutic and sometimes more useful. If you’re in a long distance relationship, you may feel tempted to keep quiet about something that is bothering you because you don’t want your partner to worry too much when they are not there to help in person. Your intentions are good, but if you want to have a healthy, supportive relationship you shouldn’t simply put a brave face on everything.
This can actually be a bigger problem for couples that have been together for a long time before becoming long distance. Hiding your struggles all but guarantees that you will grow apart. Your partner wants to be there for you. Let them! Even if they have to “be there” in spirit and attention only.
3. Don’t talk yourself down
It probably goes without saying that you shouldn’t be a braggart, but try to find the balance between bragging about yourself and diminishing your accomplishments. In my experience, women are more likely to talk themselves down than men. They’ll say, “Oh, I’m okay at that sport” when they are the best on their team, or “I did alright in school” when they were named valedictorian.
Your partner wants to get to know you. Help them. You shouldn’t create a false image of yourself in an effort to be humble any more than you should lie about things you’ve never achieved. This requires self-awareness and honesty, two qualities that are extremely valuable in long distance relationships.
4. Use clear language and be specific
Language is a powerful tool. You naturally develop different vocabularies for different circumstances. Think about corporate-speak (“Let’s think outside the box about how we can leverage this solution next time we interface”) vs. how you talk to your great aunt (“Yes, it was lovely, thank you for asking”) vs. how you talk to your friends (“Hit me up this weekend if you have a sec”).
Pay attention to the kind of vocabulary you use in your long distance communication. Keep it clear and simple. Don’t say, “My day had some challenges, but otherwise things are great!” if you really mean, “Today was really hard and all I want to do is have a glass of wine and watch Netflix.” There’s time for poetry, formality, earnestness, joking and venting in any relationship. Just keep it real.
There you have it, four tips for being authentic with your long distance partner. In any good relationship, you will encourage each other to be better people. You should strive to be at your best for the people you love, but there is a big difference between that and acting like someone else entirely.
There is no way to guarantee that your long distance partner is being honest about themselves. Long distance relationships, like all relationships, require trust. While you can’t control or change your partner, you can control yourself. Focus on being as honest and authentic as possible. Hopefully your partner will do the same, but even if they don’t, they will at least know the real you. Even if your relationship doesn’t last, you will be one step further along in your journey to finding someone who’s a great fit for the real you.
Your turn, what have you found to be the hardest part of “keeping it real” in your long distance relationship?