There are lots of blogs and tips about helping you survive the dreaded long-distance relationship. But there are deeper issues that really need thinking about. A long distance relationship is fundamentally different from one where you are seeing each other daily. It requires the skill of planning, communicating while facing more challenges, and dealing with intensity.
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Long distance relationships are more common now due to people moving around for university and work, the rise of online dating, etc. Technology and transport links mean it should be easier than ever, in theory. A quick text message, a face time chat, or cheap coach ticket should mean the relationship can work.
When I was in a long distance relationship it was hard, it wasn’t fun, but it was necessary for that period of time.
There are elements all relationships need, like love, commitment, attraction, trust. That is a given no matter if you’re married or dating and live in different time zones. But the distance means there are different skills and different challenges couples need to get their head around. (Read What The Bible Will And Won’t Tell You About Dating)
When I was in a long distance relationship it was hard, it wasn’t fun, but it was necessary for that period of time. My friends have struggled too, in ways they wouldn’t have if they were seeing each other daily.
Communication is different and more challenging, planning needs to be key, and intensity needs to be tackled
The advice I give is about knowing that communication is different and more challenging, planning needs to be key, and intensity needs to be tackled. Without these things, it may not go the long distance.
Not Seeing Only Saying
Couples who aren’t in a long distance relationship get to see each other often. They’re naturally more in tune, they get to read subconscious body language, and they get to pick up on things unsaid. Non-verbal cues have been accepted by many professionals in different fields as key in communication. However, long-distance doesn’t bring that luxury.
I had a friend who had a career in the army, he told me he wrote to his wife every day and she did the same. He was clear that they had to say what they were feeling, clearly, precisely, and leave nothing out. Whether they felt love, excitement, loneliness, jealousy, everything was said.
But you have to communicate all of this with your words because you don’t have the benefit of non-verbal signals.
The thing is, not seeing each other regularly and not having body language means you can feel more vulnerable, not feel as close, or be less trusting. But you have to communicate all of this with your words because you don’t have the benefit of non-verbal signals.
All relationships take communication, but long distance needs to be able to say it without seeing other helpful signals.
You need to be ready to develop that skill. There needs to be space to be able to say whatever you’re feeling. It may sound easy but it isn’t, but it isn’t impossible either.
Plan Plan Plan
When I was in a long distance relationship, planning when we would see each other was crucial. Having vague plans and going with the flow wasn’t helpful. There needed to be intentional times for seeing each other.
Despite technology, all relationships require face to face interaction and just being together. Without it, people drift apart and lose their intimacy.
Planning ahead may be harder for one person in the couple, or come more naturally to the other, but knowing when you will meet up offline is key.
Without a plan you can easily drift, go for too long without seeing each other and lose your connection. Despite technology, all relationships require face to face interaction and just being together. Without it, people drift apart and lose their intimacy.
You need to plan plan plan.
This is something that often takes couples by surprise.
Any relationship can be intense, but long distance will definitely have an edge of intensity. It’s characterised by being apart, missing each other a lot and waiting to be together. Then meeting up and all those intense feeling of attraction and longing coming out at once.
Being able to spot when the intensity is having an affect is key.
This can result in too much physical contact, in getting annoyed and angry when other people interrupt your time, or annoyances and jealousy you’ve had over the last few weeks exploding and all coming out in one go.
Being able to spot when the intensity is having an effect is key. Do you always argue about something the first night you meet up? Do you spend your first day wishing you hadn’t gone too far physically? When you’re apart, do you just talk about how perfect they are, therefore get let down when you meet up?
The intensity will happen. We are human with emotions. But being prepared to handle them is needed for long distance to go the distance.
Relationships are great. In this world of more opportunities nationally and abroad, long distance may be a necessity for us for a while. Grasping the skills needed to make it work, means we can make go the long distance.
Would you ever do a long distance relationship (again)? Why?