You have met someone who lives far away. But you have fond feelings towards each other, so you decide to start a long-distance relationship. Note that a long-distance relationship is not a complete romantic relationship. It’s a phase in your relationship that allows you to get to know each other better.
To make your relationship work long-distance, you need to know:
- How long it will last
- What do you want to achieve during this time
- How will you know when it’s time to move on (move in together, turn your relationship into a friendship or break up).
This is the 2nd part of a 3 part series. To learn about starting a long-distance relationship, read this article first.
Here, we will see what is a long-distance relationship and how you can make the most out of it. what problems you may encounter along the way.
What is a long-distance relationship?
A long-distance relationship is a romantic relationship where a couple is separated by the geographical distance. Depending on your circumstances, we can define a long-distance relationship in 2 ways:
- A short phase in a romantic relationship.
- An ongoing romantic relationship long-distance (usually due to study or work).
To have a healthy long-distance relationship, first, you need to agree on several aspects of your communication:
- The preferred means of keeping in touch (phone calls, video calls and messaging)
- The frequency that happily fits into your schedule.
- The topics of your conversation.
This article is about getting to know someone you just met who lives far away. So, we will look at your long-distance relationship as a phase in your romantic relationship. It is an opportunity to learn about each other’s personalities, values and beliefs.
To make your long-distance relationship work, you need to agree with your partner on what it is.
How to get to know each other in a long-distance relationship
Getting to know someone long distance is a little different from getting to know them face to face.
It may seem a little alien in the beginning. A new long-distance relationship may feel exciting, but it can also get confusing. You will have some misunderstandings and that’s ok. We all make mistakes when we learn something new and getting to know a person, particularly from a distance may be a bit tricky. But it doesn’t have to be a heartache just because you can’t see each other. In fact, it can be helpful to have the time to respond to questions and ask your own.
Problems are not scary if you know how to deal with them.
Let me show you…
Staying connected in a long-distance relationship
To maintain the connection in a long-distance relationship is slightly different than when you are together.
A large portion of communication is done through body language. In a long-distance relationship, you don’t have the luxury to observe your partner’s body. So to understand each other, you rely mostly on verbal and written communication. The clearer you can express yourself through words, the easier it will be for your partner to understand what you mean.
A lack of physical touch makes it harder to maintain an emotional connection. Getting to know another person normally involves a lot of touching. Physical touch can reassure you that all is well and it can also tell you if something is wrong. Without physical contact, it’s hard to navigate the state of your relationship.
You have already met this person in real life, so you know how it feels when you are together. But, how do you stay connected without body language and physical contact?
Some practical things you can do:
- Agree the best way for you to communicate (messages, video calls, phone calls, text conversation)
- Decide together on how often you want to keep in touch (see what works for you).
- Schedule your conversations
- Clearly express yourself
- Get comfortable talking about your feelings
Staying connected comprises 2 things: keeping in touch and remaining emotional connection.
Long-distance relationship conversation topics
Among all the conversations there are two that can help you build a healthy relationship.
- Share your story.
Where you come from and what you have been through. This helps better understand another person and the reasons for their actions.
What do you want in life and from your relationship?
What are your personal and relationship goals?
- Talk about your feelings, needs and preferences.
Any successful relationship depends on your ability to express your feelings and recognise the feelings of your partner. Your ability to express how you feel and what you need directly impacts the success of your relationship.
Get comfortable sharing your feelings with each other and discussing them without judgement.
Include the above in your daily repertoire of conversations and it will open the door to an honest and loving relationship.
Take notes of how you feel.
Over time it will give you an invaluable insight into how your feelings change over time.
If you also take notes of the events that take place, you will also have a chance to correlate the event with your feelings.
Long-distance relationship visits
Visits in a long-distance relationship are considered a luxury. Couples tend to ignore all the problems just to enjoy the little time they have together. We are going to have a slightly different approach…You’ve seen how you can remain emotionally connected and make the most out of your time apart. Talking about your feelings, helps you to feel understood. When you meet, you can expand on that understanding. It’s a great opportunity to connect everything you have discussed with how it feels when you are together.
A romantic relationship involves physical intimacy. With distance, physical intimacy is limited (frequency of visits depends on time and money). A long-distance is about how often you can see your partner, rather than the distance itself. It comes down to having the time and money to cross the distance. Each person has a different need for intimacy. So, longer periods between visits will be harder for the person who needs the physical touch more often.
Physical intimacy questions:
- How often does each of you need physical intimacy?
- Do you need it as often as each other?
- Does one of you need it more?
- When are you going to visit each other?
- How often are you able to visit each other?
- Who is going to come over?
Getting to know each other in a long-distance relationship is slightly different from how you’d do it if you were together. The main difference is in the way you communicate. Lack of physical touch makes it difficult to tell how your relationship is going. Without seeing the other person in from of you, takes away the body language signals. Without these signals, you rely on written and verbal communication to trust that what they say is how they feel.
It can be hard to navigate your relationship long-distance. But, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. With the right approach, described in this chapter you can make the long-distance work for you. If you see it as a temporary period, you can use the time apart to learn about each other. During your visits, you can see if what you know fits with how you feel when you are together. If it does, consider moving in together. There is no point dragging it out. If you feel that you are happy together and believe that your relationship can work, give it a go.
In the next article, we will see how you can tell that it’s time for a change and how to make it happen. It will help you decide whether to move in or to move on.
Getting Some Help
I have made the above tips as practical as possible, but if you are struggling and could do with some help, here is how you can get it:
- Join our Facebook page for quotes and ideas to help you with your relationship.
- Visit our Facebook group. To see how people in the same situation handle their long-distance relationship. Our coaches are part of that group, so you will get professional advice too.
- Take our assessment quiz and receive a personalised response from a relationship coach.
- Book your online coaching session to discuss your situation with a relationship coach.
- Have a virtual appointment together with your partner.