I used to not believe in long-distance relationships, a.k.a LDR. The set-up didn’t make sense to me—why would anyone choose to be with someone who can’t be there? Isn’t the point of being with someone to be with them? I didn’t believe this kind of relationship could work…until I fell in love with someone who can’t always be there because of the distance.
Suddenly, I understood. No one wants to be in a long-distance relationship, but when faced with the challenge, people choose to stay because of one ultimate, irrevocable reason—love. And, as you might already know, love is worth everything.
We talked to some LDR couples who have been faced with the challenge of distance and conquered it, or is still conquering it, hand-in-hand with their significant other. And if you’re in an LDR yourself, or skeptical like I once was, may this shed some light, hope, and faith.
Here are some real-life LDR stories that prove love really is worth fighting for.
5. This couple who always carry a visual reminder of their love
The story: “We met 5 years ago at a birthday party. We were students then. I was on my last year of Nursing and he was taking up Multi Media Arts. Every year he goes back to U.S and stays there for months. That was our first taste of our many LDR occasions. After he graduated, he immediately went back to L.A to work. We [have been] in a long distance relationship for (more or less) 2 years.”
How they manage the distance: “Updating each other our agenda for the week, [and] constantly finding time to sneak quick calls in between our busy schedule, or a video call if we catch each other at the comfort of our homes—especially that our time zones are totally opposite. We also carry something that would remind us of each other, like a necklace or a ring. It works for me as I am a visual person.”
How they make it work: “Trust and communication is the foundation, but I swear on these things that I’ve learned over the past years: 1. Expect changes. Don’t promise that nothing will change because there will be. Your time for each other will change, your communication will change, your act of love will change. 2. Be willing to [make] minor and major adjustments. 3. Don’t go crazy simultaneously! Only one person is allowed to go crazy at a time. One person should be the vision of strength when the other person is weak. And, lastly, find new ways to express your love. You can surely be creative and take advantage of today’s technology!
LDR is not for everyone. It is on another level of challenge that would really test your limit, BUT it is certainly, amazingly, happily rewarding.”
4. This couple braving being in the early stages of LDR
The story: “Sarah* and I met in Taekwando class. Even before we got together, she already decided that she wanted to go to another country. Now, she studies in Canada. We’ve been apart for a month and a half now. She’s a bit used to distance because she’s used to being away from her family and all that. It’s hard for me though. It’s really hard. It was already hard enough finding out that she was going to leave. I don’t know why I still got together with her, knowing full well that she was leaving. How long she’s staying there is indefinite. I don’t know when she’s coming back.”
How they manage the distance: “We’d call each other, say how we are, how was our day, how we feel, how much we love each other. [Sarah’s] actually very good at maintaining this LDR. She’s very sweet. She’s the one that’s more positive about the whole LDR thing cause usually when I hit her up, I tell her, “I’m sad. I miss you.”
How they make it work: “The secret is optimism, really. The thing that will really make you strong is remembering that all this waiting is for something, that there’s a reward to this. And I guess seeing that significant other is the reward.”
(*Names have been changed)
3. This couple who has now been happily married for 25 years
The story: Gary and Marilie now have four beautiful children, and have been married for many years. But it wasn’t always easy for them. They started out as an LDR couple, too.
It all started when Marilie was sent to the United States with a team from her Church to join a workshop for a play. Somehow Marilie was being teased and set up with the play’s playwright, although she hadn’t met him yet. The playwright was Gary. And when they did meet, Gary finally asked her out on a date. Marilie eventually had to go back to the Philippines, but as for the love formed between them, there was no going back from that.
After being away from each other for some time, Gary sold everything he owned in the US, moved to the Philippines, and proposed to Marilie. They now have been married for 25 years.
How they managed the distance: Through the only two forms of communication available at the time—letters and expensive phone calls. They had to wait two weeks every time to wait for the letters to arrive.
How they made it work: According to them, “they key to surviving LDR is constant communication and patience,” and making sure the foundation of your relationship is “built on trust and love.”
-Gary and Marilie
2. This couple whose long wait is about to end soon
The story: “My boyfriend and I met on a dating app. At the time, he was vacationing here in the Philippines at his grandparents’, but he really lives in the US. I guess we didn’t really expect to fall in love. No one can really see that coming, I think, but it happened. I told him from the get-go that I don’t do long-distance, that presence is super important to me, but what can you do—we fell in love. We fell in love pretty quickly. The next thing I know I was saying goodbye to him at the airport, with the promise that I will always be his.
We’re still luckier than most LDR couples, because he has the luxury of going back and forth. But it’s still hard. Sometimes there is a physical pain to be felt from being away from the person you love. Not being able to see him, hug him, hold his hand when one of you is having a bad day. But the good days trump the bad—I’ve found the love of my life. He’s so patient and kind and beautiful in all ways. How can I complain?
We only have a month to wait now until he comes back and moves to the Philippines for good. I can’t wait.”
How they manage the distance: “We’ve been in LDR for almost a year now, and we have been talking everyday since we met. But when I say communication is very important, I don’t just mean to say to literally talk. What I mean is honesty that is backed with kindness and understanding. Always say what you feel, and never go to bed without having been honest. You already have miles separating you two. Don’t create any more distance between you than that.”
How they make it work: “It’s so easy to take the exit when things turn difficult. When there’s pain. When you miss them so much but there’s nothing you can do. But, really, the solution to making it work is so simple. You just make the decision. You choose to make it work. You choose that person, everyday and always.”
1. This couple who only saw each other again after 12 years, when they were getting married
The story: “After we graduated HS, around 2005, we were about five months into our relationship—my mom decided to go to the US because there was a job opportunity for her there. My now-husband was supposed to leave for Italy too because his parents were there.
So, we were in LDR from 2005-2017. The last time we saw each other was the night before I left for the US. We both never got a chance to visit the PH and neither of us had the opportunity to go meet somewhere. So when we decided to get married last year, was the only time we saw each other again.
When I saw him for the first time after so many years, I was so surprised. I just hugged him tight as he went down on one knee to “officially” propose. So, we’re finally married. Although its unfortunate that we’re now back to LDR. I’m currently waiting for my documents so I can be with him in Italy. But a little more waiting is nothing compared to the waiting we did for almost 13 years.”
How they manage the distance: “We managed our LDR just by making sure we talk to each other everyday. Either online or through phone calls. Before smartphones, we used to spend a lot of money on phone cards. Thank God for smartphones! We watch movies or series at the same time. We send each other gifts. A date for us is eating at McDonald’s while on video call!”
How they make it work: “Communicate well. I think the reason ours worked is we make sure to tell each other what we feel. Others say that being with someone physically is more important but I think being able to talk to the other freely and not withholding anything is just as important. Time is also important. He’s ahead of me by 6 hours so sometimes one of us has to sacrifice sleep just so we could talk to each other.
Also, don’t forget to say I love you everyday and make sure you mean it.”
Do you know any couples in an LDR? Or perhaps you are? Tell us the story in the comments—we’d love to hear them!
Stories have been edited for clarity and brevity. Special thanks to Gemma Casimsiman and Micah Guiao for helping in the research for this article.