Couple Column: Making Your Long Distance Relationship Work for You

2012-07-22 19.13.24

Many couples separated by distance are acutely aware of the distance between them– thanks to Google Maps, we can now calculate the number of miles, minutes, seconds, and just about

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anything else keeping us away from our lovers. But is it healthy to focus on the distance between you and your partner?(Hint: hell no!)

One of the most important things that couples can do on a daily basis is simple: communicate. For long distance couples, communication is even more important as couples who are far apart may need to be in touch more often than those who are not. At the beginning of your long distance relationship, no matter how long it lasts, it’s important to establish healthy communication habits to keep you and your partner close.

Here are a few ways to keep the focus on being together when you’re apart from your sweetheart:

Communicate meaningfully. Research shows that the physical distance between you and your partner does not impact the success of your relationship as long as you share meaningful communication with one another. Being open and honest are two surefire ways to communicate effectively with your partner and to forge deep bonds with one another, but another important and necessary part of communication is listening. While sharing your innermost thoughts, fears, hopes, dreams and secrets with your partner is important, so to is acknowledging that you’re listening to and hearing what your partner has to say. Spend time together (with help from technology!). It’s no secret that shared experiences are the foundation upon which successful relationships are built. Even though you and your sweetest are apart, however, you can and should still find ways to spend time together with just a little bit of help from technology. Whether you’re planning a weekly long-distance date night (more on that here!), FaceTiming on the go, learning something new together, or reading the same book it’s important to find things besides despising the distance between you to forge an even strong bond in your relationship.

Display affection in thoughtful ways. Displays of affection don’t have to be big, fancy, or spendy to be successful– small, sweet gestures go a long, long way in love. Though digital displays of affection are a great way to let your sweetie know how much you love kicking it together, sending small tokens of affection via snail mail is also a great way to bridge the physical gap between the two of you. Protip: For extended periods of separation, sending care packages with favorite snacks for “I miss you” emergencies or a love note for every week you’re apart will chase a case of the sads away. Alternately, hiding love notes in unexpected places is a good way to make your lover feel like you’re there even when you aren’t.

Live your life to the fullest. As people, we are the best versions of ourselves and best partners to our loved ones when we are happy. No matter where you are in the world or why the two of you are apart, do your best for yourself and for each other by not dwelling on the distance between you and building the best life for yourselves that you can. It’s healthiest thing that you can do for yourself and for your relationship– so get out, make friends, be active and and to be as independent as you can.

Don’t focus on the distance. If one of the most consistent things you talk about with your partner is

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the distance keeping you away from each other, chances are (especially if that talk is frequently sad or ends with tears) that your relationship may not survive. Focusing on the things that keep you apart makes it easier for the forces between you to continue keeping you apart, and incredibly harder for the two of you to focus on being together. Talking about how to survive the distance and setting a goal for when you can be together is okay– but anything else? Don’t do it. Neither of you will be able to benefit from being miserable about circumstances that you cannot change.

Whether you’re split up because of deployment, continuing education, or any other measure of life circumstances, any distance is doable if you tackle it together as a team. What are your best tips for going long and making it through the distance?

About Tess

I'm the weekly columnist at Couple who writes about all things dating, relationships and technology.

4 thoughts on “Couple Column: Making Your Long Distance Relationship Work for You

  1. Hi Tess,

    You definitely know what you’re talking about.

    From my experiences ( and my male’s perspective), setting goals has been a key element in the success of my current LDR (closing the distance next month).

    Setting clear goals allow you to clearly lay out your expectations from each other and from the relationship, and you create a point in the future that you can both look forward too. Sadly, a lot of people either in a regular or LDR don’t do that. Don’t overlook the power of setting clear goals. :)

    Regards,

  2. I totally agree! Speaking from experience, it is tough being in a long distance relationship. No matter how strong your love is for each other, a time in a day will come when you will feel so lonesome and this lonesomeness will eat you alive. It is up to you though if you will allow this to consume you. As stated in the article, meaningful communication is the key to a successful relationship, especially, long distance relationships. Also, I agree that it is important for both parties in the relationship that they should maintain their individuality, find time for oneself and be your best self apart from your partner. This is an awesome read!

  3. My boyfriend and I are about five hours apart and even though it’s not much to some, it’s a lot to me. We always try to stay positive! I do wonder though, is it okay every once in awhile to feel sad about the distance and talk about it? I mean I’m sad all the time because of it, but I still keep my head up and find ways to make myself happy.

    1. Hi Taylor!

      It’s absolutely okay to feel sad about being apart sometimes– it’s completely natural, and you’re right, it is important to be able to talk about it with your partner. The really important thing to do here is to make sure that the majority of conversations you have with your partner on a day to day basis aren’t focused on how far apart the two of you are. Our partners are well aware of when we’re happy, when we’re sad, and when things are going wrong… and this can put way more pressure on both of you and relationship when there’s no way to immediately fix the problem.

      Best of luck to you both– and good on you for keeping your head up and being strong even when you’re sad.

      Tess

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