It is popularly believed (or feared) that long distance relationships never work out. But sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder, and people learn to take their partners less for granted when they’re not always around. It’s also worth noting that some couples far away from each other feel closer than couples who live with each other, because they’re more willing to communicate their problems openly with one another. It all boils down to one word: effort.
Whether you’ve been in a long distance relationship for a while now, or you’re just about to enter a long distance relationship, we want to provide some insights that can help you when you experience difficulties and uncertainty.
Psych2Go shares with you 6 tips on maintaining long-distance relationships:
1. Give them a personal gift to hold onto.
Before the two of you depart, give each other something you can hold onto and remember one another by. A few examples you may be inspired by (but are not limited to) include exchanging night lights, stuffed animals, jewelry, hoodies, or mugs. What you decide to give your partner doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Instead, focus on how the object has served to bring meaning in your life.
What story does the object hold? Did it happen to bring the two of you together? Or is it a special memory the two of you have shared? The more thought you put into your gift, the more touched your partner will be, because it’s a sign that you’ll miss them when they go away.
2. Set routines and learn about each other’s schedules.
Time zones can be tricky, but learn to appreciate the differences. This can teach you the value of patience and remind you that relationships don’t thrive or grow from moments of instant gratification. Once you and your partner get settled in and adjusted to your new lifestyles, let each other know about your schedules and routines. This is your chance to learn how to prioritize one another! Depending on how much of a difference your time zone is, you may need to take turns accommodating to each other’s availability to set up Skype dates or phone calls, whether that means one of you waking up a few hours earlier each week or one person staying up a little longer. It may sound daunting, but once the two of you figure out a rhythm that works for the both of you, the rest will set sail.
3. Build trust and try not to jump to conclusions or assume the worst.
Life can be unpredictable, so sometimes things come up, such as family emergencies, working overtime, or illness that may interrupt your usual communication patterns. Rather than worrying about whether your partner is cheating on you or if they’ve grown bored of the relationship and may be spending more time with their friends, know that there’s no actual proof or evidence to back up those anxious thoughts. Build trust with your partner and ask each other how you’re feeling, rather than bottling up insecurity and making the walls bigger. It’s about trust just as much as being open and vulnerable with each other. Getting answers directly from your partner is better than over-analyzing and filling in those gaps yourself.
4. It’s not about how often you talk to each other; instead, focus on quality communication.
Consistent communication is important when the two of you are apart from each other, especially when the physical aspect of the relationship is absent. But too much of it can also backfire and leave the two of you feeling smothered or burnt out. Rather than texting each other every hour of the day, find balance and moderation, and focus on the quality of your conversations instead of how frequently you two of you talk. You may come to find that the more you talk to each other, the more you may end up talking about the same thing in circles, rather than delving into a meaningful conversation that makes you appreciate each other’s intellect, ideas, and perspectives.
5. Make time to see each other, but know that every visit may not be ideal, and that’s okay.
When you visit each other, you may want to make the best out of your time together and plan to do exciting things, but we’re all human, so allow room for flexibility instead of perfection. There may be times when you’re exhausted from traveling back and forth and just want to stay in and watch a movie with your partner. Or perhaps there will be a delay in your flight that may bleed into your dinner reservations.
Doing fun activities and bonding with your partner is important, but sometimes it’s good to just play things by ear and go with the flow. That way, if expectations aren’t always met, then disappointment won’t have to follow. Remember, it’s about the company you’re with, and not necessarily what the two of you do.
6. Embrace the challenges together.
Long distance relationships are difficult, but don’t let the challenges tear you apart. Insead, embrace them together. Sometimes, your insecurities may get the best of you. Consequently, you may believe the two of you would be better off breaking up and meeting new people. But, take a step back and think about why you held on for so long in the first place. Whether the two of you are apart because you’re going to different schools or because of a job promotion, know that the long distance is only temporary, and that you’re working on yourselves before the two of you can be together again.
It’s a common misconception to think that in order for relationships to work, one person has to sacrifice their needs and desires for the other in order to be together. In reality, though, this is how relationships often break apart when people feel stifled and can’t grow together. Never lose sight of the bigger picture, and don’t give up.
Are you in a long distance relationship? What are the challenges you go through?