How To Make A Long Distance Relationship Work [Basics – 2019]

by Alex Larryngton

A girl in a long-distance relationship blowing virtual kiss to her partner via the tablet.

“A relationship is to be enjoyed.
A long-distance relationship is to be enjoyed remotely.”

Alex Larryngton

In a long-distance relationship, there is a temptation to blame the distance for all your problems.
Sure, distance can complicate your relationship.
But some problems might be there, even without the distance.

If you are serious about making your long-distance relationship work:

  1. Work out your personal differences and preferences.
  2. Find out how the distance affects your relationship.
  3. Apply 3 simple rules to solve your relationship problems.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What is a long-distance relationship?
  • Problems associated with being apart
  • Intimacy in a long-distance relationship
  • Effective Communication in a long-distance relationship
  • How you can apply effective communication to your long-distance relationship
  • 3 Simple Steps to make sure your partner understands you
  • 3 Basic Rules to survive a long-distance relationship

Long-Distance Relationship Problems

Lack of Physical Intimacy

In a long-distance relationship, the hardest thing is to be away from your partner. Most of the time it’s because of circumstances rather than out of choice.
It’s difficult to maintain your relationship without physical affection. You don’t get the comfort of physical touch, a kiss or a hug. Physical closeness helps you feel safe, calm, and content. Without it, it’s hard to judge the state of your relationship.

The distance can strain your relationship, making it hard to remain emotionally connected. In this situation, you may feel helpless. It may seem that all you can do is wait. You need to decide if you want to suck it up and stick it out or make your long-distance relationship work.

2 people in a long-distance relationship connecting across the world

Emotional Connection

In a long-distance relationship, your connection relies on emotional intimacy. You can maintain an emotional connection with effective communication. This can bring clarity to your relationship and help you survive the long distance.

A simple tweak in communication can help you avoid arguments and bad feelings. You can improve your communication with your partner following 3 simple rules. With practice, you will no longer be afraid to express your feelings and desires.

A long-distance relationship can be hard and may feel like a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be.
I will show you how to turn it around.

Effective Communication in a Long-Distance Relationship

a couple in a long-distance relationship talking over the internet

Imagine your relationship with no arguments.
The one where you can hear each other and be heard in return.
What would it be like to know how each of you feels?
And, have a plan to know where your relationship is going?

What is Effective Communication?

Effective communication in a relationship is the skill of expressing yourself. And doing so in a way that your partner understands you. When you express yourself clearly, it’s easy for your partner to understand what you want. Once they know what you want, they can do what you ask.

To communicate effectively, you need 2 things: clarity and understanding.

Open and honest communication is the foundation of your relationship. It allows you to share your feelings without fear of judgment or criticism. This goes both ways. 

We will see how you can do it shortly.

Why is Effective Communication Important?

Effective communication can help you find the source of your problems. Once you know the cause of the problem, you can find the solutions.
When you are next to each other, you can sense if something changes. Communication through electronic devices doesn’t give you this sense of knowing. Your mind becomes full of doubt and adds extra pressure to your relationship.
Effective communication can reassure you that your relationship is going great.

How Effective Communication Applies to a Long Distance Relationship?

Lack of clarity leads to assumptions and misunderstandings. This is one of the main reasons long-distance relationships fail.
Sometimes we are afraid of getting clear because clarity means facing the truth. We don’t always like what we see and we may ignore the issue altogether. 
This is ok for a holiday fling or a short-lasting relationship. But, if you are serious about making it work, clarity is a must.

Are you ready to bring clarity to your relationship and make the most of your time together?

How to Make Sure Your Partner Understands You in a Long-Distance Relationship

You may feel that you do everything you can for your partner but are not getting anything in return. Your partner might even think the same. This sparks arguments because each person blames the other for not being understanding. Instead of sharing love, couples waste precious time, growing resentful. Unfortunately, you can go on like this for years, unaware of it.

The only way to break this cycle of blame is to talk about it. Sure, you talk all the time, but is your partner hearing you the way you intend it? How you talk is what makes the difference. A slight improvement in communication can bring you and your partner closer together.

As promised, here is how you can express yourself so that your partner understands what you mean…

STEP 1 - Get your partner’s attention

When something comes to your mind, you may feel the need to share it with your partner. But they might think their own, ‘very important’ thoughts. Check that they are listening. Ask your partner if it’s a good time for them to hear you out and pay attention to what you have to say. If it is not a good time, tell them you would like to share something with them. Agree the time that would work for both of you.

STEP 2 - Say what you need to say

A girl expressing her feelings in a long-distance relationship

Saying too much or too little can be a problem.
It’s easy to overthink before saying something. By the time it comes out, we already gave it so much thought and importance. By overthinking we worry about our partner’s response. We question ourselves if we should say something or keep quiet.

Converse with your partner without having all these worries and fears. Express whatever is on your mind, knowing that your partner will understand what you mean.

This brings me to my next and final point…

STEP 3 - Check that your partner understands you

We have a strong need to share and who is better to do it with than the person closest to us, the person we trust.

Your partner cares about you, but it doesn’t mean that they care about everything you say. Don’t continue talking for over 2 minutes without a response. Don’t accept ‘uh-huh’ as a confirmation that they got what you are saying.

Ask your partner to repeat what they heard you say and see if it matches your intention. Observe their body language and facial expressions.

Your goal for this exercise is to make sure they understand what you mean. Once you are comfortable with this, you can use the 3 Rules’ in the next section to work out any argument.

3 Rules to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship

Rule 1 - To get what you want, you need to know what you want

Note pad and a cup of coffee. Write down your wishes

We have this expectation that our partner should be able to guess what we want before we even know what we want. This alone can create a great deal of confusion. In a long-distance relationship, you have time for yourself. Reflect on what do you want for yourself and for your relationship.

Rule 2 - If you don’t say it, your partner doesn’t know it

A girl expressing herself in a long-distance relationship

So, you figured out what you want, great! Now it’s time to share it with your partner.
Some people believe that if they think something, their partner knows it. While Elon Musk is working on such a technology (source), you can do it an old-fashioned way. Say it or write it down in a letter or a text. Follow the 3 steps above to do it properly.

Rule 3 - If you don’t make a specific plan, don’t expect anything specific to happen

s.m.a.r.t. acronym for setting specific goals goals

In a long-distance relationship, it is important to have a plan. The unknown can excite, but it can also be scary. Having a plan will put your mind at ease. It can reassure you about the state of your relationship and relieve the pressure of doubts.

No good planning on your own and informing your partner of your decisions. Make S.M.A.R.T.’ goals and make a plan, together. I am not a fan of acronyms, but this one really did the trick for me.

Set the date for your next meeting and plan something exciting for the meanwhile.

Conclusion

A long-distance relationship is hard for most people. But as we have seen, it does not have to be.
Following the steps above, you no longer have to just ‘make it work’, you can make it fun.

Main takeaways

  • Apply effective communication to maintain a connection with your partner.
  • An open and honest conversation can reassure you that your relationship is going great.
  • Knowing that you can express exactly how you feel, gives you a sense of security.
  • Get clear on what you want and what your partner wants for yourselves as individuals and for your relationship.
  • Use the 3 steps above to build trust and freely express how you feel and what you want.
  • Make a plan that meets your individual needs and sets you on the right path to a healthy long-term relationship.

You want to do all you can to make your long-distance relationship work.
But, if it doesn’t work, you now have the tools to talk about it and separate on good terms.

Like & Share

If you found this article useful, share it with people whom it can help.
Tell us about your experience of a long-distance relationship in the comments below.
It will reassure others in the same situation that they are not alone.
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Now you can let go of the belief that relationships are hard.
Your relationship is what you make it.
So get creative.

Any suggestions for other topics?
Leave a comment below…

Getting Some Help

The pressure of long-distance relationships is why people come for relationship coaching.

  • 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.

Online Help for Online Relationships

We live in a society where the idea of ‘feelings’ seems alien to most people. Even though it is through feelings, we experience life. Stress is part of everyday life for most people. Arguments have become a norm and getting help remains a luxury.

At Couples Coaching Online, we believe relationships are to enjoy, and help is to be available to everyone. Our mission is to bring harmony to each person and their relationship. Happy parents = happy children = brighter future for everyone. Life’s stresses can take a toll on us, and it is the people closest to us that pay the price.

Couples Coaching Online brings harmony to people who need it the most. In a long-distance relationship, you are already talking to your partner online.

So why not drop us a line and see how we can help?

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