How to Navigate a Long-Distance Relationship


How to Navigate Your Long-Distance Relationship

Long-distance relationships are challenging to navigate because of the difficulty in communication and geographical distance.

  1. Set common goals with your long-distance partner.
  2. Make a plan for when and how you will communicate, visit each other, and move in together.
  3. Create a timeline to know that your long-distance relationship is heading in the right direction.

Navigating your long-distance relationship successfully depends on your goals and expectations. But most importantly, on how well you can communicate your feelings and needs to your partner. Having a clear plan will allow you to see where you are in your relationship and where it’s going.


1. What Is a Long-Distance Relationship?

To navigate a long-distance relationship, first, let’s get clear on what a long-distance relationship is and what it is not.

A long-distance relationship is a romantic relationship, where a geographical distance temporarily separates a couple. The two main aspects of this are the separation, which leaves you physically alone, and the fact that it is temporary.

Long-distance relationships shouldn’t last a long time. When couples try to make them last as long as possible, they can bring a lot of suffering and struggle into a relationship. This doesn’t contribute to any of the partners nor the relationship as a whole.

Romantic relationships imply having physical intimacy. Not having it, like in the case of long-distance relationships, can be frustrating. The reason it is frustrating is that you expect this physical intimacy to be part of your romantic relationship, so you feel disappointed when it’s not.

So, Do Long-Distance Relationships ever Work?

Yes, they do. Long-distance relationships are great when you are getting to know someone you met online. They also work very well for existing couples who have to be apart because of study, work or relocation.

Long-distance relationships don’t work if they last longer than a few months. While couples can remain together, sometimes even for years, it doesn’t mean that their relationship is healthy. In truth, a healthy relationship can last as long as it satisfies each partner’s need for intimacy.

Some people need physical closeness to reassure them that they are in a loving and happy relationship. For others, it’s not that important to have somebody nearby to know that they are together.

What matters is that you and your partner are aware of each other’s needs.

If you’re in a long-distance relationship, you need an understanding instead of compromising. If you know how often you should be together to be happy, you can make a plan to make that happen.

If you are not in a position to see each other more often, then regardless of your reasons, one of you or both of you can start compromising. This usually doesn’t end well. For a short while, you can compromise a little bit, but long-term, it just doesn’t work.

So to navigate your long-distance relationship you need a plan for how long your long-distance relationship will last and how often you will visit each other in the meantime.

To make a plan just have a conversation and talk about it openly and honestly. Don’t try to fit your desires to the circumstances. Instead, understand your feelings, and together, try to find a solution that works for both of you.

As you can see, to navigate your long-distance relationship, you should adapt to how the distance affects different aspects of your relationship.


2. Common Problems While Navigating a Long-Distance Relationship

Couples in long-distance relationships tend to blame the distance for all that is wrong with their relationship. But it’s important to differentiate between the problems that result from the way distance affect your relationship and the problems between partners.

If you have a healthy and strong relationship, you will be better able to adapt to a long-distance relationship.

However, if your relationship is shaky, to begin with, the distance will accentuate the problems which you could have been ignored otherwise.

Communication is the key to recognising problems and fixing them when they arise. Being able to express your feelings and listen to the feelings of your partner can make or break your long-distance relationship.

For example, if you have doubts or insecurities, you should talk about them and discuss them with your partner. 

In a long-distance relationship if you don’t say something it goes unnoticed as opposed to a regular relationship, where the change in your behaviour can signal to your partner that something is off.

It is a good practice to express as much as you can and want to make sure that important things are recognised and addressed by both of you.

If you don’t have clear and effective communication, doubts and insecurities can quickly grow into jealousy and distrust.

In a long-distance relationship, you have a lot of time for yourself. This means you spend a lot of time going through your thoughts over and over. So, if you start having thoughts that make you doubt of your partner, they will soon consume your life and destroy your relationship.


3. What Is Your Current Stage of a Long-Distance Relationship?

You can use effective communication at any stage of your relationship. If you are starting your long-distance relationship, you can talk about the things you will be doing in this relationship like:

  • What do you want your relationship to be?
  • Do you want to be romantic partners of friends?
  • How frequently do you want to visit each other?
  • Do you see yourselves living together at some point?

If you are already in a long-distance relationship with an existing partner, then you could reflect on how well you are getting on. Is your long-distance relationship with this person as you have expected. Maybe things are getting better maybe they are not going so well.

It’s important to reflect on your experience of this long-distance relationship honestly. Try to understand your partner’s experience, as well. Once you have understanding in your relationship, you can find the way forward that works for both of you.

Once you’ve reflected on yourself and talked about your relationship with your partner, you can make a plan. You could arrange reflection sessions with your partner once a week, to make sure you’re on track.

If something isn’t working in your long-distance relationship, maybe you could visit each other more often. It can even be the case of you having an open relationship, or if all else fails, you can consider a temporarily break up or end your relationship altogether.

Whatever the future holds for you, try to avoid making decisions unilaterally and then informing your partner afterwards. As long as you are in a relationship, you should discuss things together and make your decisions together. When you both talk and decide together the amount of pain that comes with ending a long-distance relationship will be less.

Thre is not an easy way to break up a relationship, nor a long-distance relationship. Your options are to do it online or during one of the visits. Neither of these options is comfortable. Breaks ups are generally difficult, but long-distance relationship breakups are even more so.


Conclusion

Effective communication can help you navigate a long-distance relationship. You would have to adapt to a different way of communication in a long-distance relationship.

A big chunk of our communication happens through body language. But that’s only possible when you have another person in front of you. In a long-distance relationship, your means of communication is limited to texting, phone calls and video calls.

To successfully navigate your relationship, you need to have common goals with your long-distance partner, a timeline and a plan to make it work. Effective communication and understanding are the key to create a healthy relationship and navigating it over a long-distance.

While you can still see a person, mostly their face, all the subtle signals from their body language are missing. You don’t get a certain feeling to navigate through conversation as you would when you are talking to someone face-to-face.

To understand another person, you need all the information you can get about their feelings and intentions. If you don’t get as much information, it can open doors to misunderstandings. These misunderstandings are hard to fix. If it were easy, they wouldn’t come round in the first place.

To successfully navigate your relationship, make a plan with a timeline, and check that you are on track on specific dates.

Here are the three workbooks that will help you navigate your relationship to where you want it to go:


Frequently Asked Questions

How to navigate an open relationship long-distance?

To navigate an open long-distance relationship, try to keep on top of your feelings if you are ok with it, great. But if your feelings change, don’t pretend that you are happy with the way things are. Stay true to yourself and respect your feelings and the feelings of your partner.


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Alex Barinov

Hi, I’m Alex:) I am a relationship coach. My passions include understanding life, relationships and human behaviour. As a coach, I help couples resolve their conflicts and create a harmonious and loving relationship.

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