Unlike a few decades ago when maintaining a long-distance relationship was an expensive venture, technology has made things easier. Initially, financing long-distance calls was a tough call, but with services like Skype and Facetime, communication is now more affordable and direct. And while it might look like technology has finally bridged the gap, people in long-distance relationships will tell you it doesn’t make up for everything. The lack of proximity and regular touch makes such relationships emotionally tough.
And with many of us either in long-distance relationships already or planning to get into one, it’s vital that we discuss how to go about making it work. According to Sandra Larson, a nurse and relationship expert, long-distance, and geographically close relationships do not differ much.
“In some cases, dating someone you’re not always in the same house can be better,” she says. Sandra emphasizes the importance of trust, saying it’s the root cause of all the issues in long-distance relationships. “Once you develop trust, it doesn’t matter how far your partner is.”
So, will your long-distance relationship survive? What should you do to make it work? Here are 5 ways to make your relationship work, regardless of the distance:
- Quality Over Quantity
People in a long-distance relationship cannot have a high quantity of communication compared to couples living together. However, because of the limited contact and defined communication times, you’re likely to have more quality communication. Sandra recommends using the time you have wisely. Focus more on quality rather than quantity. “If you have routine bedtime conversations, give a little thought beforehand to the most important details of your day to share.
Avoid clogging the call with the unnecessaries or bringing back conflict topics.” Most importantly, realize the deficits of a phone/video call and plan accordingly to ensure you say the things you mean to say. You might also have to be more deliberate in your words as you’ll be lacking the benefits of facial expression and physical touch.
- Pay Attention and Prioritize Active Listening
When the phone is your only means of communication, it can be hard to make your partner feel like you’re listening. Actively listening involves being alert to pick any abnormalities or changes in your partner’s tone or behavior. Most importantly, it entails letting your partner talk without immediately shifting the focus back to yourself. Whether it’s celebrity gossip or at-work drama, let them finish and try to offer relevant responses while encouraging them to tell you more.
If you pick any changes in your partner’s voice or demeanor, encourage them to tell you more about it and offer a listening ear. If it’s something you can help with from afar, go ahead and offer a helping hand.
- Be Creative
According to Sandra, never be too reliant on technology. Of course, it’s an important part of the relationship, but there’s more to do. “A good relationship takes a great deal of compromise and creativity. Try new ways to do things that you’d have otherwise done physically together to bridge the gap. For instance, you can both use applications like ‘Rabbit’ and ‘Couple’ that let you watch Netflix together and share life updates.
You can also read the same books. That will enhance the feeling of connecting through shared experiences regardless of how many miles you are away from each other.
- Make Plans Together
According to research, long-distance relationships are more satisfying when there’s a clear plan for the future. How long are we going to be apart? How open to moving are you, and is your partner open to the same? Whether it’s the short-term plans of places to visit when you see each other next time or the grand plan of when you’ll make the relevant adjustments to stay together, making these plans as a unit gives you something to look forward to.
Most importantly, make sure your goals and aspirations for the relationship are the same. What happens eventually? An engagement? Moving in together? Ensure that you continually work out a plan for the end game together.
- Be Mindful of Your Partner
Unfortunately, some things happen that are out of our control. Everything from unforeseen work commitments to everyday inconveniences, no one’s immune. So, when you can’t pick their call, remember to follow up with a text message or voice note explaining that you’ll get back when you can. The distance can be emotionally tasking, but things are much easier when there’s clear and direct communication.
Send your partner random and thoughtful gifts when they least expect it. It doesn’t have to be on their birthday or your anniversary either. Being mindful of your partner conveys your commitment and respect for the relationship while igniting a lasting impression.
That’s it! Long-distance relationships don’t have to be hard. It’s okay when things aren’t perfect, but there’s always a way to make things work. So, prioritize quality communication, pay attention, be creative, make plans together, and most importantly, be mindful of your partner. Trust me! It shouldn’t be that hard.