COPING WITH A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP
February 23, 2023
BY: APRIL LINCOLN, MAFP, MSW, LCSW, CEAP, SAP, MAC
Long-distance can be an obstacle for any relationship. Today with electronic communication, physical distance is easier to cope with. One of the critical pieces to any healthy relationship is good communication. So, to cope with separation, you must make sure you take the time to communicate with one another regarding how you will handle the break; you may want to address topics such as realistic expectations, physical intimacy, and how you will take time together from afar.
Fortunately, today with electronic communication, there are several ways to maintain open lines of communication. You can communicate with your significant other through several sources, such as email, text messages, video calls, and phone calls. Distance doesn't have to be a negative thing in a relationship; viewing distance as an opportunity to build emotional intimacy and strengthen your bond and foundation. Below are some tips to help you navigate your long-distance relationship.
Expectations: Distance can add stress and result in unrealistic expectations regarding availability and conflict. Have realistic expectations for the relationship when it comes to time and availability especially if the distance is caused by work commitments. In addition, some individuals are reluctant to bring up issues as they arise because let’s face it, conflict just is not fun. It's important to remember that a relationship will continue to have conflict, and regardless of the logistics it's still important to openly communicate your needs. So, conflict will still arise. The key to any relationship is being open and honest about your feelings. Sharing regularly helps keep you connected and bridges the distance gap. Openly verbalize what you need and want in the relationship without defensiveness when speaking.
Intimacy: The lack of physical intimacy can be stressful in a relationship, so discussing how it will be handled is essential. Take this opportunity to use distance to help build other areas of intimacy in the relationship. Different regions of intimacy include emotional closeness, intellectual intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and experiential intimacy. Research shows that openly communicating help build intimacy in relationships. Taking the time to share with your loved one can make your bond stronger. One effective way to use this time is by asking questions of one another to really get to know each other on a deeper level.
Trust: Trust is essential in any relationship but is even more critical in a long-distance relationship. The distance can test the confidence level in any relationship, so communication is vital, especially when discussing your feelings, concerns, and expectations. Maintain open dialogue about any problems that may arise; this conversation will strengthen your emotional connection. Remember as with all communication listen to understand you partner and ask questions, so you have a clear understanding of your partners concerns.
Effort: Putting forth the effort to stay connected to your partner is essential. Trying to stay connected also shows your partner that they are a priority, helps build trust in the relationship, and shows your loved one that they are important to you. Below are some tips to help you stay connected.
- Scheduled voice or video calls- Make sure you are caring for your partner by scheduling time together. Setting aside time is important especially with busy schedules, a scheduled time assures that you have time for each other.
- Sharing songs with each other- music is therapeutic and is another way to express yourself to your partner.
- Sending text messages to each other throughout the day to check in– texting throughout the day at appropriate times lets your partner know that you are thinking of them and helps you stay connected with each other.
- Playing online video games together – Video games are an entertaining, creative way of connecting with one another. I have worked with several couples in my practice who love to play video games with one another, especially those couples that love a bit of competition.
- Sending each other photographs – Sending selfies and other pictures of our day is an excellent way of staying connected when you are unable to be with your loved one.
- Sending each other gifts – Who doesn’t love getting a gift? Nothing is better than when your long-distance partner surprises you with a gift.
- Planning for times together – Take the time to plan for you next in person interaction. Plan a vacation or weekend getaway.
Distance in a relationship can be challenging, if you are currently experiencing this challenge or any other challenge in your relationship the team at ABH is available to assist you in maneuvering your relationship. Feel free to reach out to April directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call our main number 608-377-7487 to schedule an appointment with any of our clinicians.