In these days of COVID-19, social distancing and self-isolation, more and more relationships are starting and remaining long-distance. However, long-distance relationships present particular challenges for couples.
You can overcome these challenges with knowledge, patience, and understanding.
Keep the following things in mind if you and your partner are in a long-distance relationship, and you want to make the best of it.
1. It won’t be easy
Right up front, acknowledge to each other that the physical separation makes any relationship more complicated. Because you can’t be with one another as easily or as often as you want and might be used to, it will be harder to maintain the connection. It is important not to deceive either yourself or your partner.
However, love is also a powerful phenomenon. If you are both willing to commit to making the relationship work, it is possible to have a happy and successful long-distance relationship. Just be honest with one another and accept that it will take a lot of effort on both your parts.
2. It’s understandable that you want to connect a lot
When you are in a long-distance relationship, it is understandable that you would want to connect with your partner as much as possible. Texting and video chat have made this more convenient and personable than even talking on the phone.
However, you shouldn’t have to drop everything just because your partner calls unexpectedly. Instead, schedule regular times throughout the week for a video chat or a phone call. Also, don’t get upset with your partner if they don’t return your text the instant you send one.
One disadvantage of modern instant-messaging is that you can see if a message has been read, and it can feel personal if you don’t get an immediate reply. Be patient. Your partner might be busy, or something might have come up. It’s even possible they have not read your message at all. That’s happened to me: a message arrived as I was putting my phone down and I didn’t see it. But, because the chat was open, it was still flagged as read.
3. You need to take care of yourself
Avoid the trap of putting your life on hold until your partner responds, calls or visits. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
- Stay connected with friends, family, and your community
- Get enough sleep each night
- Spend quality time with people whom you care about (where possible)
- Maintain a healthy work/life balance
- Create time for yourself to do things you enjoy
There is more to your life than your relationship. Any relationship, long-distance or not, requires you to find a balance between all the aspects of your life. Your relationship is only one of those factors, so be careful not to neglect the others.
4. Feelings of guilt can hold back your enjoyment
When you are doing things that are fun or that allow you to connect to others, don’t feel guilty for doing so. Of course, it’s understandable to want your partner to be there with you. Yet, feeling guilty about it is counterproductive.
Instead, enjoying fun events in your life, even without your partner being present, can present opportunities to talk about when catching up during the week. You both include each other as you talk about your experiences together.
Similarly, try not to feel jealous if your partner is doing something they enjoy without you. You both need the freedom to enjoy life apart so you can enjoy your relationship together.
5. Make your visits meaningful experiences
When you can get to see each other, make the visits count!
You could seek out new adventures together. These could include meeting each other in your home cities or going together on vacation. Having meaningful experiences together helps to solidify the connection between the two of you.
Alternatively, you may prefer spending personal time with just the two of you alone together. That could mean such enjoying such simple things as cooking a meal together, playing games, or simply watching TV.
In reality, though, you may want to have a combination of the two when visiting.
6. Find activities that bring you together, even while you’re apart
While there is no doubt that it’s easier in person, preparing and eating a meal together, sharing a bottle of wine and watching a film can be a shared experience, even across continents. With video links, you can share a walk along the beach, a beautiful sunset, and so much more. Be creative and find ways you can connect over small things.
But what if I am struggling with my long-distance relationship?
If you find yourself struggling with maintaining a long-distance relationship, it’s essential to talk to your partner. Being honest with your emotions is vital in any relationship; possibly more so in a long-distance relationship as you can miss the small clues as to how your partner might be feeling.
Consider working with a therapist who specialises in relationship counselling. A therapist will listen to you and help you express what you are feeling. They can also provide you with more tools to help you survive, and even thrive, in a long-distance relationship.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in two different locations. Online therapy bridges those gaps and can help bridge any distance that might develop between the two of you.
Long-distance relationships are never easy, especially when you both love each other so much. However, by keeping the things mentioned above in mind, you don’t have to let distance hinder or destroy your relationship. To the contrary, it can be an opportunity to strengthen your bond and build the relationship you both want.