It’s so easy for us to stay connected with people, whether it’s someone we met on vacation or a friend who’s moved away to another part of the country; it’s no wonder there’s an increase in long distance relationships. When I talk about a long distance relationship I’m referring to any romantic relationship where there is a great deal of geographical distance between you and your significant other.
Here are my 5 tips for those of you who are in a long distance relationship now or pondering whether or not to keep one going.
Lesson 1: See It as an Opportunity
How your mindset is as you enter into a long distance relationship will play into how you either keep the relationship strong or drive it apart. If you see the chance as an opportunity to keep in touch with someone who means a lot to you, then you’ll do what you can to keep the relationship blooming. Use the opportunity as a way to learn more about each other and build a solid foundation for the rest of your relationship. Dr’s Julie and John Gottman from the Gottman Institute talk about building a Sound Relationship House in your relationship. And the platform for success is having a solid foundation – this means having a solid marital friendship, the common courtesy, and affection that is the basis for all subsequent interaction.
Lesson 2: Set Some Ground Rules to Manage Expectations
Usually, when conflicts happen it was because of either: a miscommunication on an issue, or the assumption that your partner was doing something and you thought otherwise. Taking some time and communicating face to face (if possible – can also be done through Skype) about how you both see and envision the relationship will avoid some heart and headache later on. Asking assertively questions like: Are you two exclusive? Is it alright for the other person to go on dates? What is your commitment level? It’s better to be open with each other about all these things.
Lesson 3: Don’t Over-Talk, But Connect Meaningfully
Usually, when there’s a great amount of distance between you and your partner, someone in the relationship wants to talk more frequently. Have you ever done the 5 Love Languages quiz? As you complete it you’ll discover that you may, or may not communicate love differently. Do you prefer to express your words? Does spending quality time mean more to you? Once you know your needs more clearly you’ll be able to make your communication time more meaningful because you can express what you need and try to address what your partner needs more clearly.
Lesson 4: Flirt!
Flirt with each other! When there’s distance between you no doubt the sexual tension arises, but that doesn’t mean your sexual relationship has to completely die. Although you’re not able to touch each other physically, have some fun playing with each other by either some dirty talk or by the occasional provocative picture (be aware of where those photos go!). Not only is sex a biological need, it is an emotional one as well. Keep the flames hot and burning!
Lesson 5: Have A Goal
Ask yourselves some of these questions: “What do we want to achieve at the end of the day?” , “How long are we going to be apart?”, “What about the future?” These are the questions you two need to ask yourselves. I’ve often seen long distance relationships go on for longer than they were meant to, where one partner was comfortable with the lack of “real” relationship, but the other wanted something more meaningful. The truth is, no couple can be in a long distance relationship forever. Eventually, you may want to settle down. If you struggle coping with the long distance, consider attending relationship counseling to find ways of dealing with this.
If you can make a plan with each other, give it a try. Consider doing a timeline, making goals with end dates will help ensure everyone follows through on what they said they were going to do… which is coming together.
Long distance relationships aren’t easy. They take a lot of trust and communication. But, sometimes long distance love is worth it.