How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work
Unfortunately, due to the globalisation of society and the advancements in means of travel, the rather unnatural situation of being a great distance from someone that you love is now common occurrence. Should you wish to try and overcome this hurdle, there are a few key points that are essential to bear in mind when trying to make a long distance relationship work.
1- Be clear on the nature of the relationship from the offset. Have clearly defined parameters before you part with your lover, and be sure to readily review them. Make sure that you know the level of exclusivity of your relationship, is there an end point to your distance away from each other? What do you hope to gain from this relationship? Does either one of you plan on moving to join the other at some point? Although these questions may be difficult or awkward to address, it is good practice to open this deeper level of 2-way verbal communication, as it will be essential once you and your lover are far apart.
2- Communicate. Communicate at least once a day be it via text, email, telephone call or letter. It is integral that you remain a presence in each other’s lives even during times when you may be having difficulties. Communication should be more than just about the exciting things in your day. Discuss feelings, ask advice, talk about your friends, tell each other jokes, ponder over ridiculous fantasies, talk about your future together etc, but avoid small talk! It is also important to discuss any concerns that you have the moment that you have them. Nurture a completely open sharing environment, but do not revisit re-occurring concerns, as, should your partner be trying their best to quell them, chances are that these re-occurring underlying issues will be due to your insecurities.
Do not neglect the sexual side of your relationship. Most people find it difficult to verbalise their sexual desires for their partner but this is an important barrier that needs over coming. Start with love letters or erotic stories written in the first person. Perhaps progress to messaging sex, or even mutual masturbation over Skype or WhatsApp (intimate moments shared between yourself and your lover are for your eyes only! Even following a break-up, no matter how the relationship ended, it is incredibly uncool to make videos or pictures of your lover publicly available). Be aware that men and women are aroused differently. Men tend to be more visual whereas women more sensual. Be sensitive to this difference when maintaining a long distance sexual relationship.
3- Do things together. Even if it’s just watching the same TV show at the same time and chatting about it, sharing an activity helps alleviate the pressure for conversation yet allows you to interact over a common, perhaps even mundane, focus point. Also share a common hobby or class, giving you something to discuss when you next chat on the phone. Establishing new common ground with your lover is a useful way of strengthening a bond that may be deteriorating with distance.
4- Appreciate your freedom. Enjoy the benefits of a long distance relationship such as a greater level of freedom and space. Also, emailing, for example, allows you to think carefully before responding and so allows you to communicate in a deliberated manner that may avoid a potential argument from developing- this is a luxury that you would not have in ‘live’ discussions. Developing your individually yet still in unison with another is an incredibly healthy experience, so make the most of it. Stay positive over your new found space by taking up new activities or seeing your friends more. At the very least this will give you more subject matter to discuss next time you communicate with your lover.
5- Be supportive, be motivational. Be there when your partner needs you. Offer them advice, be a shoulder to cry on, listen to what they’re going through. If your partner is going through a particularly hard time, be prepared to free up your diary at a moment’s notice for them or even take the next flight out to go see them.
It is also very important in any relationship to challenge one another. Help them (but do not push them i.e. do not be controlling), to become a better person. Let them make their own decisions but encourage where required. This goes back to communication- be an active listener!
6- Make sure that visits are not just be about sex. Although sex will be a large part of your limited time together, it is important to squeeze in other couple orientated activities as well. Go out on dates, even help them with their weekly shopping excursion. Be more to your lover than just a sexual object.
7- Control your jealousy. Even for those who pride themselves as being non-jealous people, envy and concern over your partner’s activities is inevitable. Be as trusting and as understanding as you possibly can. Your partner will spend time with other men, but be comfortable enough in yourself to understand that her relationship with them is only platonic. It’s important to remember that if there’s nothing you can do about it, then why concern yourself with the issue?! If your partner is of lesser moral fibre than yourself and decides to be unfaithful, then you are most definitely better off without that person. Being openly jealous will only push your partner further away from you and will not amount to anything positive. If you have concerns, raise them in a non-emotionally charged setting and accept the answer that your partner gives you. If you cannot trust this person, then you should not be with them.
8- Give them a piece of you. Gift your partner with something that means something to you. Not only will it suggest that you care about them and that you plan on making things work, but it will also give them an object to focus on when they’re missing you.
9- Surprise them. It’s generally not recommended to plan a surprise trip to see your lover unless you are aware that they have no plans for the weekend, instead perhaps surprise your partner with a new skill or talent that you have learnt in their absence. Perhaps they may really enjoy ice skating or can speak French, so try taking lessons in between the times that you meet and the whisk them off of their feet. Having your partner learn something new about you, or you about them, will help keep things fresh.
10- Steer clear of temptation. It’s far easier to avoid putting yourself in hard to deal with situations then having to resist temptation when it presents itself. Although it is nice to receive sexual attention from outside of your relationship, do not encourage it as otherwise you will be setting yourself up on a slippery slope, ready for a fall.
Work on your ability to communicate your feelings with accuracy. Perhaps try writing poetry, love letters, or erotica as a gift to your lover.
If one of you should become busier than the other, communicate this issue and be understanding. People’s work loads naturally differ and it is unfair of one person to expect the same level of response from the other. If your partner is busier than you, fill the spare time with a new hobby. Discuss issues such as this before associated problems develop.