Making long-distance relationships work is no easy feat. To keep your love for one another alive, healthy, and strong even though you can’t see each other as often as you need or want is difficult. Depending on the time difference, you might not even be able to call each other when you want. Work schedules, weekend plans can all get in the way. What if your loved one is in a country where Sunday is workday whereas where you are it’s the absolute chill day? Or, what if there isn’t a good internet connection where he or she is?
Such obstacles can make or break things. They can strengthen or weaken the relationship. Some say no sight, no might, while others say absence makes the heart grow fonder – which adage will hold true for your relationship will depend mostly on how you and your loved one approach the situation and the types of strategies you employ to deal with it.
How is it that some relationships work and others don’t? Is distance really the only determining factor, or can it be about how you handle the distance and the length of time you are apart? You might even be wondering how or why long-distance relationships work at all – saying it’s fate is the easy way out. The couples who make long distance relationship work have a few things in common. They are proactive and they continue to invest in their relationship.
For you to be one of those couples and to see your relationship grow, here are seven life-saving tips to make long-distance work for you.
- Develop a “cyber” relationship with each other
Don’t think dirty (just not yet – dirty will be advice #2)! Firstly, develop virtual and timely communication opportunities – this could be anything from scheduling regular video calls to leaving each other voice messages, sending pictures, sharing interesting links, or even playing online video games together. Identify common interests, and find a way to make them work through online means.
You can agree to watch the same movies and discuss them later. You can shop together, sharing links to your coveted items and asking for feedback. You can share recipes and agree to cook the same meals and show how they turned out via video or pictures. You can create an online blog where you both go in and document the progression of your relationship! (You can make it completely private unless you are a celebrity couple!) There’s just so much you can do online these days.
With technology giving us so many opportunities and so much ease, it has become much easier for families, friends, and lovers that are apart to keep in touch and continue to be in each other’s lives in meaningful ways. Make sure to use it to your advantage!
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- Talk dirty to each other
Why not? If your loved one is thinking of you sexually, it’ll help keep things hot. You can sext each other at unexpected times, leave dirty voice messages, or really spice things up during your video calls! Take it lightly, see the fun side of it, instead of focusing on how much you miss him or her. Tell each other what you’ll do to one another next time you get together; share your fantasies. You might find out really interesting things about your lover this way!
If openly talking dirty is not your thing, try hinting at things. Be playful, employ the art of seduction without having to say what you’re actually thinking. Use metaphors. If your partner isn’t into talking dirty but you are, encourage them. Start slowly – just telling him or her how it would feel to kiss him or her is a good start. Ease your partner in. Don’t push it. Give it time.
- Keep life as real as you can – when you are together
Weeks or months later you’re finally getting together. Chances are you are going to want to plan so many amazing things and create a jam-packed schedule. But this would cause stress for both of you. It would also push normalcy out the door. Things can go wrong, and it’s tiring to have to look your best all the time.
What you want to do instead, is to keep life as real as you can. You might even want to do routine, boring things together such as going to the supermarket and getting the grocery shopping done. It’s just another chore and there’s no inherent romantic pressure in it. There are no expectations – after all, you’re picking avocados. You can come home and cook, and then watch television while eating popcorn. It might all you need to amp up the intimacy and feel at home at each other’s presence. (But you might want to clean your apartment before they show up – maybe not make it spotless, but clean enough).
Sure, you can decide to go to a nice restaurant or get couple’s massage etc., but make sure these activities are the “extras.” Just an addition to the real, normal things you do together. Your time together should have a relaxing vibe to it. Don’t try to make it extra special – because it already is unique and special as it is.
- Go the extra mile from time to time
An amazing tip on how to manage long-distance relationships – make sure to go the extra mile from time to time. Send a care package with all the things your loved one cherishes or misses. It could even include his or her favorite potato chips. Small things can make a big difference. You can also hop on a plane and make a surprise visit (just make sure the timing will work for them – casually ask what’s going on that week or months, to be on the safe side). Send them a pillow on which you poured your perfume – the one you’re known for! Let their whole apartment smell like you.
Write a traditional letter and send it via regular mail. Include, in your letter, how you’re feeling and what this relationship means to you. A 2013 study found that people in long-distance relationships are more likely to reveal their deep thoughts and feelings to their partners than those who are not. Published in the Journal of Communication, we think the study offers a ground-breaking insight into all relationships: sharing deep feelings and thoughts changes the relationship dynamics. Make sure to show your partner your true heart – not just with words but also with action, by going the extra mile.
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- Don’t play power games
Making long distance relationships work is much easier when you don’t succumb to power games – who called last, who calls more often, who sent the last message, who shows how much love and appreciation etc. Some people find it easy to show affection, while others, even when they have deep emotions, don’t show it much. This isn’t a competition.
If you find yourself calling less because you believe your beloved doesn’t call you enough, it would be best to give up on this game and just tell him or her how you feel. Relationships are alive, and they deserve to be lived openly, so there’s room for them to breathe, so they can grow. Games only constrict the flow of emotions between people.
- Cultivate trust
In almost all long-distance relationship articles, you’ll find this tip. Setting ground rules is extremely important. Maybe your loved one feels terribly jealous when you go to a club or sleep over at your single friend’s house. Or maybe you feel let down when you can’t reach your loved one for hours because they are working or on a trip etc., and you make all these scenarios up in your head about where he or she might be.
All expert advice on how to work a long-distance relationship says, decide on the rules as early as possible, even before you’re apart. The frequency of calls, the relationships with friends and exes, what’s allowed on solo vacations and what’s not etc. should all be discussed and agreed upon to avoid any future misunderstanding. Every relationship is different – so find the rules that will work for you.
- Don’t give up
Last but definitely not least, don’t give up. There will be rough patches, but remember, even local relationships have rough patches. Talk to your friends, get support from them, or from a relationship coach or a love psychic, but don’t give up. Convey your worries to your partner, gently voice your concerns or doubts – they might be suffering from the same thoughts, too. It could help to put things out in the open and discuss how you can improve the situation.
In many cases, a long-distance relationship is no different than a “regular” local one. Honesty, communication, openness, desire, sharing, showing vulnerability, being there for one another are all crucial to the long-term success of the relationship. Love is strong enough to overcome all obstacles, only if you don’t give up.
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