Long distance relationships are notoriously difficult – we know that distance tends to put a strain on the connection and support in a relationship, and we can sometimes find ourselves struggling with feelings of jealousy and worry when we are away from our partners for long periods of time.
Fortunately, relationship therapists have a number of strategies for us to use to make long distance relationships more bearable, and actually increase your emotional connection from far away. The key is to be creative and adaptable, as well as being able to celebrate some of the good things about an LDR – such as lots of time to focus on yourself, the chance to get to know each other better from far away, and – of course – the excitement and joy of being reunited. Here are some quick tips to get you started:
- Together but Apart
There is no other time in history that has been better suited to LDRs than now – we have a multitude of streaming and online services that make it possible – and fun – to share an experience, movie or game from far away. New platforms like Netflix Party allow us to watch shows together, online games are a great way to connect and compete, and Zoom bootcamps and yoga classes are a thing too – so you can share fun and healthy experiences despite not being in the same room or country.
- Quality Time
When we think about connection, it is important to make sure we have set aside time to spend with a partner – since you’ll be missing out on that random one-on-one time such as over dinner or lazy days on the weekend. Having set times to catch up means this can fit into our schedule and is more likely to happen even if things are busy or stressful. Facetime and Skype are great ways of actually seeing each other when talking, and you can even have a WhatsApp video call while walking to work, so they can see your commute. It is important to make sure your partner still feels like a part of your life, and that they are a priority – even if you are not actually in the same location.
On the subject of connection – there is such a thing as TOO MUCH contact. Sure, we miss our partners, but we also want to give them some personal space and time alone. We can sometimes be tempted to keep in constant contact (texts and phone calls all day), especially when we miss our partners, but this gets old quickly over long distance and can be a way of seeking reassurance. Agreeing with your partner on the best amount of communication is important – for example, a good morning text is a nice gesture, but a constant barrage of texts and photos during the day might start to feel overwhelming.
One of the little-discussed benefits of an LDR is the fact that you can have some of the good things about single life – being able to be selfish with your time, do what you want, eat when and where you want, and be as antisocial as you want – with the emotional support and love that comes from being in a relationship. It is useful to embrace the benefits of an LDR, which might go some of the way to balancing out the negatives (such as missing your partner and feeling lonely). It might be useful to start a new hobby or make new friends as a way of both distracting you from missing your partner, and celebrating your independence.
- In the Flesh!
Actual time spent together is, of course, a limited commodity in LDRs – and the reality is that it is often inconvenient, expensive and difficult to make it happen. That said, these meet-ups are hugely important in giving you both the opportunity to reconnect, get your fix of each other’s company, see what each other’s day to day life looks like, and meet each other’s social circle. As great as video calls and text messages are, quality time spent together can sustain a relationship and help remind us of the reasons we’re doing this.
- Find support
An LDR can test even the most trusting and loving relationship – it is only natural that distance and differing schedules will throw up some challenges. It can be really useful to have relationship therapy as issues arise – or even if you are in the process of starting an LDR. Since you aren’t in the same place, video counselling can be a powerful way of connecting and receiving support from a therapist. Relationship apps like Relish are another useful way to identify and address issues that come up – and partners can complete quizzes and share their thoughts and insights from lessons and exercises. Many couples are finding that apps such as Relish offer a low-cost, high quality health check for their relationship, and helps them to adddress issues such as communication, trust, insecurity and sex.