How do long- distance relationships possibly work? Aren't they basically on a track to failure, and an inevitable ending, unless someone makes a change and the relationship is no longer long distance? How do couples cope with the distance in the meantime? I'm not sure whether I want to get into one, but I do care for my partner a lot and he has to move for work.
There is no doubt that for the vast majority of couples, a long- distance relationship would not be their choice. There are a few who love the balance between time together and time alone, and so a long-distance- based relationship works for them, however from a long- term relationship perspective, there is no comparison to a healthy face- to-face relationship.
There are many different types of long-distance relationships, and they are certainly becoming more common now that the world is a smaller place, and travel is so much easier and affordable, and the internet, complete with webcams, is shrinking the perceived and actual distances between us as well. Some long- distance relationships start out that way because perhaps the couple met on the internet and are separated by state or country.
Others may have met face- to- face on say a holiday or while travelling, and choose to continue their connection, despite the distance. But others could have started out face- to- face, and then for one reason or another work or military or family obligations as examples one person has had to move, or be away part of the time. Any way you look at it, the long- distance relationship requires extra special effort to make successful, whether the goal is to end the distance, or whether that's just not feasible for the foreseeable future.
The keys to a successful long-distance relationship are:
- Connection. You must pay attention and give a good effort to feeling connected, despite the distance which is a natural barrier to many of the various ways couples can connect. Because you are not physically in each other's daily lives, when you do talk it's vital that you prioritise each other. When you are on the phone, don't be distracted with other things give them your undivided attention. They should feel worth that (at least).
The time that you share while you're apart, whether it's online, on the phone, via webcam should be considered your one- on- one time to focus on each other and invest in your relationship and connection. Don't schedule one- on- one connection time together if you know it's not going to be convenient for you to be able to focus. Choose your time together wisely.
- Romance, passion and sex. Sure romance and sex are far better when you're together than apart. But that doesn't mean you still can't be romantic and sexual together even when you're away from one another, and especially if you spend long amounts of time apart, it's important that you keep putting some energy into this area of your life together, rather than shelving it for only the times when you are together.
Use the internet, if you can, and go on virtual dates together, to various sites and use them as a springboard to chat about things that are new as well as what's going on in your life. Keep things interesting and fun. Send flirty and sexual emails or letters and texts. If you keep your sexual chemistry going while you're apart, it keeps the anticipation building for when you'll next be together, and it also keeps the memory fresh in each other's minds about why you desire one another, and why this long-distance business is so worth it.
- Communicate. Of course. Everyone knows that you cannot make a long- distance relationship last without communicating. But you can use the distance to your advantage: talking together is one of the main things you have to share when you're apart. Use that to progress your relationship forward, rather than allowing the distance to place it on hold, treading water.
You're not going to the movies together or having sex, or out with friends together, so while you're relationship is based on talking talk about all the big and important things as well as the little things. Get to know one another intimately. Build a really solid foundation for your relationship. Learn each other's life stories, histories, values, wants, needs and hopes for the future. See how much you share. This is an intimacy building process that can make some long- distance relationships more intense, intimate and bonded than many face- to- face relationships.
- Details, details, details. If your catch-ups, whether when you're apart or together are: "What have you been up to lately?" Answer: "Not much, same old same old", then you're not indicating to your partner that you value their input in your life, and that you actually want to share your life together. You’'re not creating an "us". The details keep you both involved in one another's lives and create a shared life together.
It's not silly to tell each other what you're cooking that night, or about what activity you just did, or what you'd like to plan to do together. Share your experiences, and your thoughts and feelings. Don't bottle things up and store them for only when you're apart or when you're together, or ignore them because they seem trivial. Be real with one another when in at a distance or not. Don't try to keep up a fantasy life or it will all fall in a heap when you are together. You've got to always be yourselves and be true to that, regardless of the amount of time spent in the same place.
- Thanks for the Mmemories. When you do spend your time together, whether it's frequent or rare, keep it positive and fun. Savour and treasure the time together and create memories that will last you through the harder times when you're apart.
By no means should you purposely avoid conflict or hurt feelings if those occur while you're together, but make sure it's balanced with a lot of warm (and hot), loving time together that will serve as positive motivation to keep going in the relationship when you next have to say goodbye. If that's what you want. Because the goodbyes are hard, there's no doubt. But if you keep up your connection and continue to invest in one another, the hellos make it all feel worth it, all over again.