TheTalko recently had the pleasure of speaking with Alex Dobrenko for an exclusive interview. Dobrenko is an actor who created, wrote and starred in the web series, Distance, which explores perspectives of a couple's long distance relationship (or LDR). Since Dobrenko created this series after being inspired from his own three-year LDR, we figured that this would be a good chance for someone with experience with an LDR to shine some light onto the subject. Especially for any of our readers who might be considering entering into, or who are already in, an LDR.
One of the topics that we asked Dobrenko about were some of the difficulties couples experience in long distance relationships. He told us that, of course, the obvious one is not seeing each other. This is tough, he explained, because the best way that we can connect with other people is in person. When you are face-to-face with someone, it's much easier to read the other person using body language and other social cues.
"You can read what is happening in the other person best and you can feel connected most that way," Dobrenko said. "Long distance pulls that out right from under you so then you’re both kind of always playing detective and trying to figure out what the other person is doing or saying and there’s a lot of hard work there."
He went on to say that big events such as birthdays just make everything in the LDR that much harder. To make things work, more effort has to be put forth. It's important for couples in LDRs to really be in touch with their emotions in order to understand and even predict how the other person is feeling. It's just as important to understand your own emotions and to communicate them effectively to your partner.
Naturally, since Dobrenko was in a LDR for three years and the experience of that was significant enough for him to be inspired to create an entire series, we felt the need to ask him if he would personally recommend an LDR to someone he knows.
Firstly, he said that he would, but at the same time, he would maybe want to ask them first, if they can handle some painful experiences. But then again, he said that LDRs can be very similar to relationships in which the couple sees each other every day or on a regular basis.
"It’s hard, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows," Dobrenko said. "Maybe long distance just highlights the difficulties earlier on. If you’re up for a challenge and you really want to see whether you and this person could last a long time, long distance is a great way to figure that out. And also it’s one of those things where it’s never somebody’s first choice."
Dobrenko offered some advice for couples going through an LDR that he learned while he was separated from his girlfriend, make-up artist, Lauren Wilde, by several states.
"I think a big tip would be not to treat it like a monumental, forever thing," Dobrenko advised. "Just be like, let’s see how this goes today… and then tomorrow, really taking it day by day and enjoying it as opposed to being like, oh my God, the next five years will be hell! It doesn’t have to be that."
We've heard before that couples in LDRs should set clear "rules" before agreeing to commit to the LDR. So we asked Dobrenko if he agrees that it's important for these couples to set ground rules or expectations before committing to such a relationship.
The actor and creator told us that he wouldn't necessarily say that it's essential to set a lot of ground rules from the word "go," but it is a good idea to set and develop expectations that are mutually agreed upon as the LDR progresses.
"It’s less about 'Here’s the big plan' but more like, 'How are we going to stay communicative and honest as things come up?'," Dobrenko said. "You got to start playing the game before you know what some of the rules are. So I think it’s less about here’s what we’re going to do and more about 'Here’s how we’re going to figure this out as it evolves'."
Speaking of advice, we asked Dobrenko for some good examples of those ground rules and expectations that should be set as the relationship progresses. He told us that honesty should be the top priority.
"Another one is for when you have visits and see each other to not make them like a super big deal," he added. "Don’t make it a whole big thing where you plan every minute. Try to have it be as normal as possible."
We hope these nuggets of wisdom can help you in your very own LDR! You can check out Sam and Emily's stories right now at distancetheseries.com. Happy watching and happy relating!