A long-distance relationship is a blend of a relationship and the distance. Often, it’s a romantic relationship, so you expect physical closeness. But, the geographical distance makes it very hard, so what can you do?
To survive a long-distance relationship, first, let go of the idea that it is survival. You are in a relationship to bring joy into your life and share it with the person you love. Distance is an opportunity to improve your relationship.
In this article, I will walk you through the most common areas of concern in a long-distance relationship. You are unique and so is your relationship, so I won’t tell you what you have to do. Instead, I will help you find your own answers on what works best for your relationship.
1. Be Your Own Person
A relationship is a union of two people, two individuals. You chose your partner because there is something special about them. So, you wanted them to be part of your life. From billions of people, they also chose you because you are unique.
Your life’s experiences, values and beliefs, how you deal with problems and how you treat others define your personality. These are the things that make you special.
As soon as we find a partner, we forget who we are and what we want. After some time, the relationship becomes boring.
In the first few months, you learn all there is to know about each other. For the rest of your relationship, you think there isn’t anything else to learn. Your partner thinks the same. So if neither of you develops, your relationship won’t either.
Tip: Continue self-development
This will encourage your personal growth and will make your relationship more exciting.
2. Find out what’s important for you and your partner
We all have certain preferences. Things important to us may seem trivial to others and vice versa. Therefore, it can go a long way to let your partner know what’s important to you and consider what’s important to them.
Don’t expect your partner to guess what you want and how you want it, tell them.
- Make a list of things you want in your relationship.
- Apply a scale of importance from 0 to 10 to each item.
- At the top, are the things you want, no matter what.
- At the bottom, are the aspects of your relationship that you are ok to be flexible about.
Tip: Know what is important to you and how much.
Often, relationships become saturated with compromise and you ask yourself if it’s even worth it.
3. Create a meaningful connection with your partner
After being with a person for a while, we have an illusion that we know all that there is to know about them. So, you stop learning anything else about your partner.
This leads to empty conversations about what you have eaten, who you saw and what you did and does not create a meaningful connection.
We experience life through feelings. The fun part is that our feelings change all the time. They are influenced by our environment, thoughts and circumstances.
Next time you talk to your partner, ask them how they are feeling at that moment. You may hear something like ok, not bad, etc.. This is the first sign that your partner may not know how to express their feelings.
A lot of us are illiterate in expressing how we feel. Yet, without this, emotional connection is next to impossible, particularly in a long-distance relationship.
Tip: Learn to talk about your feelings
In this article on how to make your long-distance relationship work, you can learn to communicate clearly in 3 simple steps.
4. Make a plan, together
Having a plan is simple enough. Anybody can make a plan by compromising. But, how do you make a plan where everyone needs are met, particularly the important ones?
When you are alone in a long-distance relationship, you may assess the situations in your head. You decide what is possible and what isn’t before even talking to your partner.
Why not try this instead…
- Make a list of your feelings, needs and what you want. Next time you discuss your relationship with your partner, share this list with your partner.
- Then, take the time to hear your partner. Make notes on what they want and what is important to them.
- Finally, look at both of your notes together. Together, weigh what you want against what is possible.
Tip: Always make your plans together
Approach it objectively, without emotions. Imagine you are trying to help another couple in exactly the same situation. You will see the difference it makes.
5. Agree on how often you speak
Talking is one of the main ways of communication in a long-distance relationship. We’ve discussed how you can maintain an emotional connection by what you are talking about. It is equally important to come to an agreement with your partner about how often you call each other.
You may wish to speak 10 times a day, while your partner may feel that 3 times a week is plenty. Doing so, you would appear needy and your partner could come across as if they don’t care about you.
To avoid misunderstanding, lay both of your preferences on the table and find a mutually acceptable solution.
Tip: Agree on when is the best time to call each other and how often
6. Agree on how often you see each other
So far we have covered the importance of being your own person and having your own life. Now, let’s have a look at how often do you see each other? Physical touch is a basic human need that is very important to us. However, the degree of importance varies from person to person.
Physical intimacy gives the reassurance that you are still a couple. Ideally, you may need this reassurance every day, but it may still be ok for you to be intimate say once a week. If this is the case, it is normal to expect for you to feel distant from your partner if you don’t get to touch them for more than a week.
Tip: Recognise the importance of physical intimacy for yourself and your partner
Apply the scale of importance from 0 to 10 to your preference. Ask your partner to do the same and compare your findings. If your needs for physical intimacy are different, it can affect your relationship, so have a chat about it.
7. Make a plan for when you are apart
Seeing each other after some time can be very fulfilling. Naturally, you are looking forward to those days. It’s far too easy to fall into a habit of waiting for your next meeting, forgetting all about Tip 1.
By actively waiting, I mean counting the days to your next visit. The more you focus on the waiting, the more you are reminding yourself that you can’t have something you want. You feel like your life is not enough. This is a first step to turning your long-distance relationship into survival.
Try this instead…
Next time you are together, set personal goals and make a plan of how you will achieve them before you meet again.
Tip: Use the time apart to achieve your personal goals
This has a double benefit. First, you will be on track with your personal development. By sharing your plan and keeping them up to date with your progress, your partner will be part of it.
Signs You are Surviving a Long-Distance Relationship
… rather than enjoying it …
- There is no plan to visit each other
- No plan for when you are together and what you do in-between visits, other than miss each other and wait for the next one
- While apart, you wait for the next visit, instead of having fun with your own life
- One of you wants physical intimacy more than the other
- You are not aware of this difference
- You don’t have an agreement on how to the person who wants more frequent physical intimacy can satisfy it
- One of you is calling more often than the other
- You are often sitting, waiting for the phone or the text
- One of you is not happy with the frequency of your conversations
- One of you makes final decisions
- You are not clear on the days and times to talk
- You don’t have a clear plan for living together
- At least one of you is unable to express your feelings
- You mainly talk about who did what
- You feel distant from your partner
- You are compromising and expecting your partner to compromise
- You judge what’s important for your partner and they judge you
- You expect your partner to know what you want without telling them
- Trying to please your partner
- Feeling responsible for your partner’s feelings
- Thinking you know them inside out
People erroneously believe that to make your relationship work, you need to compromise what you want and try to do what your partner wants.
It is actually the opposite.
Knowing your own feelings, needs and preferences will bring depth to your personality. Sharing them with your partner will help you create a meaningful connection. And, it will bring understanding to your relationship.
In a long-distance relationship, we make the distance to be the troublemaker. Today we have dispelled this myth.
We’ve seen how being apart is, in fact, an opportunity for you to work on yourself, learn to connect to your partner in a meaningful way and by doing so, make your relationship not only healthy but also fun and exciting.
We’ve looked at why it is important to get clear on our your needs and how doing so contributes to the health of your relationship.
We’ve covered 7 ways you can stop seeing your relationship as a hardship that you need to survive.
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