Are you in a long-distance relationship (“LDR”) now? Or are you or your partner moving away and you will “try to make it work”? Then your other friends must have given you all sorts of advice, tips, and scary stories already. But how many have given you neutral, objective advice and tips on how to best make it work? That’s what this article will try to do.
Because being in a long-distance relationship can be challenging, but it can also be incredibly rewarding if you are willing to put in the effort. It requires trust, patience, and communication, but it can also strengthen your bond with your partner in many ways. You will recognize that many LDRs go through a number of distinct stages, each with their own excitement and challenges. Here are some of the most common ones:
- The Excitement Stage
At the beginning of a long-distance relationship, everything feels exciting. You can’t wait to talk to your partner every day, and you fantasize about the next time you will see each other. There is an element of mystery and intrigue that keeps you on your toes. You might even feel a bit of an adrenaline rush when it comes to the idea of the challenges you both will face to make this long-distance love work.
- The Adjustment Stage
After a few months, the excitement starts to wear off, and you begin to adjust to the reality of the situation. You start to realize that this isn’t just a temporary arrangement, and you must figure out a way to make it work in the long run. You may have (had) unrealistic expectations of when and how often you will speak to or visit each other. It’s important to discuss these expectations with your partner and come to a compromise that works for both of you.
- The Jealousy Stage
At some point during a long-distance relationship, one partner may begin to feel jealous of the other. You may feel like your partner is living a more exciting life without you, or that they are spending too much time with other people. Jealousy is a natural emotion, but it’s important to communicate with your partner and work through any issues before they become bigger problems.
- The Restlessness Stage
As time goes on, you may start to feel restless and frustrated with the distance between you. You miss your partner, and you long to be with them physically. It’s during this phase that you might start to feel like the distance is unbearable, and you may even consider ending the relationship. It’s essential to talk with your partner and remind yourself of why you decided to be in a long-distance relationship in the first place.
- The Reappraisal Stage
Despite the challenges, if you make it through the restlessness stage, you will hit the reappraisal stage. This is when you start to look at your relationship in a new light. You realize that you have grown both individually and together, and you appreciate the little moments you have with your partner even more. You start to see all the things that make your long-distance relationship unique and cherish the love and bond you have created.
Of course, every long-distance relationship is different, and each couple will experience different stages at their own pace. It’s crucial to maintain communication and trust, as well as to remember why you fell in love in the first place. No distance is too far when two people are willing to work it out together, with each stage bringing 2 people closer to something that will last a lifetime.
So if you’re in a long-distance relationship, don’t give up hope. Remember that love knows no distance, and with patience, perseverance, and understanding and dealing with these stages, you can build a strong and lasting partnership that will endure the test of time.
But let’s not beat around the bush here: Maintaining a long-distance relationship can be challenging. Research suggests that long-distance relationships have a higher risk of ending compared to geographically close relationships. So why is this the case? Not to make you overly scared or depressed, but it is good to know up-front why other people have failed, so that you can learn from that and make things work out better for you. So here are some key factors that can contribute to the challenges and potential failures of long-distance relationships. But, we also share some tips to overcome each of them:
- Lack of physical proximity: The absence of physical closeness can create feelings of loneliness, frustration, and longing, which can strain the relationship.
How to overcome:
- Plan regular visits: Schedule visits in advance to have something to look forward to and to spend quality time together.
- Explore virtual intimacy: Find ways to maintain a sense of physical closeness through virtual intimacy, such as sharing intimate conversations, sending sensual messages, or engaging in video chats.
- Communication difficulties: Effective communication is crucial in any relationship, and distance can make it more challenging. Misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and lack of non-verbal cues can lead to conflicts or feelings of disconnection.
How to overcome:
- Use different communication channels: Utilize various communication platforms like video calls, phone calls, texting, emails, or even handwritten letters to maintain regular and diverse forms of communication.
- Be attentive listeners: Practice active listening to understand each other better and avoid misunderstandings. Ask clarifying questions and provide support when needed.
- Trust issues: Trust is vital for the success of any relationship, and the physical separation in a long-distance relationship can sometimes lead to doubts, jealousy, or insecurity, which can erode trust.
How to overcome:
- Establish trust-building measures: Discuss boundaries, expectations, and concerns openly to build a foundation of trust. Be consistent, reliable, and transparent in your actions and communication.
- Share your daily lives: Share details about your activities, friends, and social circles to help your partner feel involved and assured.
- Limited shared experiences: Shared experiences play a significant role in bonding and strengthening a relationship. Being physically apart can limit the opportunities for creating new memories and deepening the emotional connection.
How to overcome:
- Create virtual shared experiences: Find activities you can do together, such as cooking the same recipe simultaneously, watching movies or TV shows together while video chatting, or playing online games.
- Plan future experiences: Discuss and plan future activities and trips that you can enjoy together once you are reunited.
- Different lifestyles and routines: Each partner may have different lifestyles, schedules, and commitments due to their separate locations. Balancing these differences and finding common ground can be challenging.
How to overcome:
- Find common interests: Explore activities or hobbies that you can both engage in, despite the distance. This can help you create shared experiences and deepen your connection.
- Be flexible and accommodating: Understand and respect each other’s schedules and commitments, finding ways to support and prioritize each other’s needs within the limitations of the distance.
- Financial constraints: The cost of travel and maintaining a long-distance relationship can be burdensome. Financial stressors can add pressure and strain to the relationship.
How to overcome:
- Plan finances together: Discuss and establish a financial plan that allows both partners to contribute to the costs of visits and maintaining the relationship. Consider budgeting, seeking travel deals, or exploring cost-effective ways to stay connected.
- Uncertain future plans: Long-distance relationships require a clear plan for the future, including a timeline for closing the distance. If there is no clear end goal or if partners have conflicting visions for the future, it can lead to uncertainty and eventual breakups.
How to overcome:
- Discuss and align future goals: Have open and honest conversations about your long-term plans, including when and how you will close the distance. Ensure that both partners are on the same page and work towards a shared vision.
- Create a timeline: Establish a realistic timeline with milestones and goals to work towards. This provides a sense of direction and reassurance for both partners.
While these factors contribute to the challenges of long-distance relationships, it’s important to note that there are also many long-distance relationships that do work out. Many couples successfully navigate the distance and build strong, lasting relationships. The key to success lies in effective communication, trust, commitment, and shared goals. Additionally, couples who prioritize regular visits, maintain emotional intimacy, and find creative ways to bridge the distance tend to have a better chance of making their long-distance relationship work.
But that all sounds nice and lovely, but how will this actually work? What are the things we should do to “survive” each of the aforementioned stages and make sure we remain in a loving relationship where both of us continue to be happy and we grow together?
Well, what better way to help you on your journey, than with a good old-fashioned to-do list. So here are 20 things you can do to help strengthen your long-distance relationship:
- Establish clear and realistic expectations: Discuss your expectations and goals for the relationship, including how often you’ll communicate and visit each other.
- Communicate regularly: Make an effort to communicate daily through phone calls, video chats, texting, or emails to stay connected and involved in each other’s lives.
- Plan visits in advance: Schedule regular visits and plan them ahead of time to have something to look forward to. This helps reduce the longing and provides reassurance.
- Keep each other updated: Share details about your daily life, experiences, and feelings, so you both feel involved in each other’s worlds.
- Be honest and open: Maintain open and honest communication, sharing your thoughts, concerns, and emotions. Trust is crucial in long-distance relationships.
- Use technology creatively: Explore different ways to connect virtually, such as sending voice notes, sharing photos, or even watching movies or TV shows together online.
- Maintain independence: Allow each other to have individual lives and interests, supporting personal growth and maintaining a healthy balance between personal and relationship needs.
- Be understanding: Long-distance relationships often involve time differences, busy schedules, and limited availability. Be understanding and flexible when it comes to accommodating each other’s commitments.
- Set goals together: Establish shared goals and aspirations for the future, which can create a sense of purpose and motivation to work towards being together.
- Surprise each other: Surprise your partner with thoughtful gestures, such as sending them a surprise package, a heartfelt letter, or arranging a surprise visit if possible.
- Establish trust: Trust is vital in any relationship, especially in a long-distance one. Be reliable, consistent, and avoid unnecessary jealousy or suspicion.
- Plan activities together: Find activities you can do together, despite the distance. For example, you can read the same book, watch a TV series together, or play online games.
- Discuss your love languages: Learn and understand each other’s love languages to ensure that you both feel loved and appreciated, even from a distance.
- Support each other’s goals: Encourage and support each other in pursuing personal and professional goals. Celebrate each other’s successes and provide motivation during challenges.
- Express your feelings: Regularly express your love, affection, and appreciation for your partner. Don’t assume they know how you feel; verbalize your emotions.
- Handle conflicts constructively: Conflict is natural in any relationship. When disagreements arise, address them with patience, understanding, and empathy. Focus on finding solutions rather than blaming each other.
- Share experiences together: Despite the distance, find ways to share experiences. For example, cook the same meal and have a virtual dinner date or watch a movie together while video chatting.
- Be patient: Understand that there will be difficult moments and periods of longing. Patience is essential as you work towards the day when you can be together again.
- Stay positive: Maintain a positive attitude and focus on the strengths and joys of your relationship. Remind yourself of the reasons you are committed to each other.
- Plan your future together: Discuss your long-term plans, whether it’s moving in together, getting married, or any other significant milestones. Having a shared vision for the future can provide hope and motivation.
Remember that every relationship is unique, so it’s important to adapt these suggestions to suit your specific circumstances and dynamics. Be creative with the above-mentioned points and make them your own. Change things up every now and then to keep things exciting. If you manage to do all that, you have a better chance of beating the odds and making things work. Good luck!