How to make a long distance relationship work
Sometimes work and family commitments mean your partner can’t always emigrate with you, but there are things you can do about it (other than dump them or cry).
No matter how long you’ve been together, or how long you’re going to be separated for, leaving your loved one behind can make acclimatising to a foreign culture even harder and put a real strain on the relationship.
Some people argue that long distance relationships are always doomed to failure, but in this international age more and more of us are finding ways to overcome the distance and beat the struggles of separation.
Keeping a relationship thriving when your hundreds or thousands of miles apart isn’t easy. In fact it’s bloody hard work. But if you’re willing to put in the effort and accept all the difficulties it’s possible to emerge from the experience as a stronger couple than ever before.
In Part 1 of our top tips for keeping a long distance relationship going we offered advice on things you can do before you hop on that plane, in Part 2 we look at things you can try once you land.
Vary the type of Contact
Speaking to your partner on the phone or seeing/speaking to them using software like Skype are obviously fantastic ways of re-connecting during time apart. Tone, inflection and gesture are a huge part of effective communication – and a part you can’t access when using text-based communication methods.
Speaking on the phone or through Skype at least twice a week will really help you feel closer to your partner. However, overuse of these types of contact can take away the excitement and anticipation which should come from using them.
Maintaining contact should never feel like a chore, so rather than sticking to a regimented schedule vary the type and time of contact.
Texts, picture messages and emails are great and instant ways of letting someone know you’re thinking of them, and they’re much easier to navigate around an awkward time difference/work or social schedule. To show additional thought and consideration you should try sending your partner traditional letters and packages from time to time.
Do things Together
No matter how far away you are from your partner it’s still possible to do things together – especially in this technological age! Reading the same book can trigger good conversation, or you can watch films or listen to music together using Skype/phone/text/instant messenger/iTunes to connect you. You might also find it useful to start a public or personal blog as a couple. If you blog about your long distance issues together you’ll be able to tackle problems as they come up, vent your frustrations in a constructive way and maybe even help other couples in the same situation! You can also play games together. Whether it’s simply online scrabble, paying 20 questions over the phone, diving into a fully interactive RPG, or something a bit more… exotic… playing a game together can inject fun, competitiveness and freshness into any relationship.
Do things Apart
Keeping in contact and doing things together are essential if you want to make your relationship work but doing things separately can be just as important.
You might be part of a couple but you’re also an individual and whilst you shouldn’t neglect your partner you shouldn’t neglect yourself, your job or your commitments either.
Doing things separately, including socialising with new friends, will stop you both feeling resentful and lonely and give you fresh topics of conversation when you speak again.
Remember though, jealousies can easily arise when a partner spends time with new people and if left to fester they can destroy an otherwise strong relationship. Nip them in the bud as quickly as possible by reminding your partner (or yourself!) of how strong you are as a couple and why you love each other.
Plan for the Future
If things get difficult (and all relationships do go through difficult patches) remember that the reason you’re both trying to make your long distance relationship work is because you see a future together.
Focus on that during the tough times. If you plan your future together whilst you’re apart it will also give you something to look forward to and reassure you both of your commitment.
If you can afford it, and if it’s logistically possible, you should also meet up at least once every few months. Knowing you’re going to see each other reasonably soon will make the whole experience feel less difficult. You’ll also be able to reconnect physically, always important for a successful relationship!