How To Make Long Distance Relationships Work

lovefar4

Technology is great and I clearly love it. It can help your heart beat when it naturally does not do it on its own. It can also help you become an instant sensation on Instagram or Twitter. You can also watch technology evolve with society in near real time. For instance Snapchat was once used by tweens to sext. Which is the practice of sending naked pictures to one another. As deplorable as that is, the technology is now a billion dollar company used by heavy weight companies and celebrities alike. Tinder too also had a seedy beginning. It was the known as the hookup app. However I personally know people who have met on Tinder, got married and are still happy. I say all this to set up the stage freeing your mind from preconceptions. Long distance relationships were once looked at with fear. It can be hard to deal with not having someone to cuddle after a long day at work and there are no romantic dinners. While the fear of being in a committed long distance relationship will never go away it can however be manageable. Long distance relationships do not have to be overly complicated and impractical. My goal is to show you how to make long distance relationships work. 

Couples in a long-distance relationship call each other every 2.7 days. On average couples in a long-distance relationships will visit each other 1.5 times a month. Also couples in long-distance relationships expect to live together around 14 months into the relationship. ~Wikipedia

lovefar

First thing to remember is that this is not the long distance relationships of old. You are not regulated to just emails, phone calls or dare I say; snailmail. Now couples can stay in touch way beyond texting, FaceTime and Skype. You can virtually feel each other’s presence miles away in so many ways now. While none of these are in any way a replacement for physically being together; they are however a way to fill the gap. Keeping a relationship healthy means you are dealing with issues surrounding trust, commitment, communication, household management, children and finances in a positive proactive way. Now add a complicated in long-distance relationship to that and you can easily see a recipe for disaster. Here are my strategies to help you help your long-distance relationship work.

The things you should do: 

Define the clear parameters together

What do we want to achieve at the end? What does a successful relationship look like for kids? How long are we going to be apart? What about the future? Sit down together and map out this new long-distance arrangement. I can not stress this enough. Its a long-distance arrangement. You both have to agree on it. Map out and work through what are your concerns? How often will you visit? What about the discussions with kids. How does that look? What about relationship worries, such as intimacy, finances, jealousy and trust? You must honestly open up about everything to ensure you are on the same footing.

Communication

Don’t want to be “sticky” and possessive but I also don’t want to hear from you the next day either. I want you to have good morning text waiting for you. I want to hear good night every day. MUST send each other pictures, audio clips and short videos from time to time. Mail each other postcards and hand-written love letters. Video chat as much as possible because looking into each other’s eyes and hearing each other’s voice at the same time can make everything feel alright again. Is it mundane? Yes, if you want to basically do whatever it takes to help not make us feel like the other one is in this alone. Putting in this kind of effort will be what keeps us strong.  

Make a future plan

You can not know where you are going until you know where you have been may be a great saying but in relationship terms; the past is the past works best. In long distance relationships it is all about future casting. If you don’t have a clear plan of what you want at the end of this great adventure than you are bound to end up somewhere you do not want to be. You have to be willing to ask your partner the hard questions. Where do you see us in one year? How about five years? Having shared goals is one of the most important things to have aligned in every happy relationship, especially a long distance relationship. This may sound impossible and unrealistic but trust me its true. Living in separate homes does not mean you have to lead separate lives and have separate futures.

“Long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.” Dr. Crystal Jiang, of the department of communication at the City University in Hong Kong

lovefar5Frequent contact without context is not good 

You understand that texting is important. Good for you but that is not enough. You have to communicate every day. If that sounds daunting like a second job then you might want to reconsider being in a long distance relationship. You should be thinking about talking more than once, if possible. It’s highly critical when you’re unable to have that all important physical intimacy with your partner that someone you maintain an emotional bond. I can not hammer that enough. Some people are not “talkers,” for those people look at it this way. Is 10-20 minutes a day really that much? You can knock that out by just asking about each other’s day. Encourage each other to send erotic photos and be sure to return the favor. It goes without saying that you both agree that all photos will be private. 

Make time by keeping a schedule for face time

Texting is awesome, talking is great but video chatting is the holy grail of communication. Next to speaking in person noting comes close to seeing and hearing from someone in real time. However to do that takes a lot of investment. Not financial by mental bandwidth. This might be a struggle at first because people are busy but to maintain a long romantic relationship work you HAVE TO make the time to see each other face-to-face in some form. You have to go over each others work, family and other obligations. You do this because it sucks to make the time to call someone only to get their voicemail. Also regular physical visits are a must. Sometimes you might go through periods of deep sadness during which all you will want is to see their face in real life rather than through a pixelated form.

Do NOT keep secrets.

When you are long distance what you say matters so much more. You can’t read each others faces and determine if there is more to the story than what is being said. Transparency is one of the most important if not the most defenses against jealously, suspicion, and paranoia. Inclusion is a close second. Meaning your partner needs to know what is going on in your life. They are already not close and the last thing you want is for them to feel left out. Tell your partner about the people in your life. This really helps when they give you updates on what is going on. Don’t omit events or interactions with the other people just because it might invoke a little jealousy. It’s better to have it out there and talk about it before it’s problem. You don’t want your partner to act on the natural loneliness they will feel being away from you. Your job is to keep your partner from worrying and giving lots of details about your life is the best way to do that.

 You better be there for each other

You have to be there for each other. This is the hardest aspect of a long distance relationship to get right. If you don’t feel that the other person is there for you in life altering events such as tragedies, family celebrations, parenting support or a personal crisis your relationship is done. Flying home for any of the above even though they say it’s no big deal goes a long way to keeping your relationship strong. Supporting each other through all those high and low points in life is very reassuring and a strengthening bond for the relationship. 

According to a study done by Cornell University between a quarter and one half of college students are currently in a long distance relationship.

lovefar3DO NOT DO!

Never text when drunk, as autocorrect and predictive text can be a hazard. One inconvenient correction can be dismissed as a mistake, but sequential messages is a trend.

Do not trip. Yes, its human nature to assume the very worst when there has been no contact for more than 10 whole minutes, but chances are your partner is busy.

Don’t let your friends’ shape your opinions. They are your friends and want you to be happy and will choose the easiest way to make that happen. They will drive you into thinking this long distance thing won’t work. However if they can’t find love and happiness just 100 feet away, who are they to judge you?

Don’t lead the other person on out of sense of obligation. If you are not equally committed leave the long distance relationship. If you are not 100 percent into being committed, don’t even try.

Don’t be so independent from your relationship because of distance that  your significant other ends up being more of a friend than that special person.

issuesDon’t mistake booty calls for intimacy. The worse thing you can do is regulate your relationship purely physical. You can’t have a “friends with benefits” long distance relationship. When you visit each other you will be on each other like rabbits but that should not be the only thing that happens on your visit each and every time. This is very rare because that is will end up being one expensive emotionally and finally way to get laid.Don’t avoid the tough questions. Especially as you get to know each other more. Those tough questions are the best ways to reassure you that you are in the right place before you get too invested. If you don’t feel vulnerable you are not invested emotionally.

Don’t discuss your big disagreements over the phone. Do those in person. Trying to resolve relationship issues via text message is a sea misunderstanding waiting to drown your relationship. Acknowledge you have to talk but save your serious disagreements for when you can talk them out in person.

Don’t give the silent treatment ever to each other. Using silence as a weapon is the childish and just wrong. Not to mention very controlling. It will drive your long distance partner crazy with frustration and build lots of self-doubt.

DON’T CHEAT should go without saying but there, I said it. I have been in an open relationship. I think the kids call it Poly now. Either way that takes a great level of trust and acceptance on both parties. There is no way you can have that in a long distance relationship if your goal is to be with that person for the extend run of life. So do your best to avoid situations where you may be tempted to cheat. Don’t start hang out with that attractive co-worker that you flirt with sometimes. Know your limits, and then stay very far away from getting close to them like your relationship depends on it; because it does.

Don’t stalk your partners social media activities unless you want to be a jealous mofo. It’s ok to like each other’s photos on Facebook and Instagram. Tweet to each other if you want in a non overly PDA way. However, don’t go through each picture they post wondering who is that attractive person next to them. Don’t read a post or tweet and assume it has anything to do with you.

Don’t Isolate Yourself from others. The last thing you should be doing is using work as a distraction from the loneliness. I know it cane feel strange when you’re out in public that you are physically single but not romantically available. It can get uncomfortable in social situations but your partner is worth a little discomfort.

A study by Cornell University revealed that while couples in a “normal” relationship tend to have more daily interactions than couples in a long-distance relationship, the couples who had hundreds of miles in between them tend to have longer, more meaningful conversations.

lovefar2Finally and most importantly gone are the days of boy meets girl, fall in love, and live happily ever after. Think about it long and hard first because long distance relationships are not for the faint of heart. For me despite all the challenges, I feel long-distance romance can work if you want it to work. The accomplishment of that success will leave you with the knowledge that if you survived the distance, your relationship can survive anything. Just think about how many meaningless arguments, jealousy, sleeping alone, and second-guessing whether it is “really worth it” debates you will have had with yourself. And if it doesn’t work, well, you haven’t worked hard enough at it, and you’re destined to be alone for the rest of your life. Since we live in a world where stats seem to be very important I leave you with the following table that shows both the average (medium) response and the range of 95% of LDRs from a sample of over 200.

  • How far apart do they live?
    • Average: 125 miles
    • 95% range: 30 miles to 950 miles
  • How often do they visit one another?
    • Average: 1.5 times a month
    • 95% range: once a week to once every four months
  • How often do they call one another?
    • Average: once every 2.7 days
    • 95% range: at least once a day to once a month
  • How long are their telephone calls typically?
    • Average: 30 minutes
    • 95% range: 2 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes
  • How often do they write one another (not including email)?
    • Average: three letters a month
    • 95% range: never to every other day
  • How long do they expect to be separated before they can move closer to one another?
    • Average: 14 months
    • 95% Range: one month to four years