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Long-distance relationships are often challenging. If you meet a future partner online, there’s a good chance that you’ll be in a long-distance relationship, at least for a certain period of time.
Between messaging apps and video chatting, being in a long-distance relationship is easier than ever before. Gone are the days of waiting for a message to arrive in your mailbox, or waiting by the phone for a long-distance call. Though technology has made communication faster and simpler than ever before, maintaining a healthy relationship remains as difficult as ever.Do you love someone who lives far from you? Here are some guidelines for ensuring that your relationship stays strong despite the distance.
Set “Ground Rules”
As in any relationship, an effective long-distance relationship is strengthened by communicating one’s wants and needs. Since you and your partner will be living your day-to-day lives apart, it is important to set a few “ground rules” regarding the nature of your relationship to ensure that you’re both on the same page regarding important issues like communication and commitment. Are you two in a committed relationship, or are you still open to dating others? How often do you want to check in with one another? What sort of behaviors are off-limits to you? What sort of freedoms do you need to ensure that you’re living a life that you enjoy? If you and your partner both know where you stand, you can communicate more confidently and effectively, preventing either of you from becoming clingy or feeling insecure. Clarify your “ground rules” early in your relationship to prevent hurt feelings later on.
Communicate Frequently & Creatively
Every couple will need to find a communication pattern that suits their needs. It is important to be in frequent contact without the clinginess of constant communication. Check in with daily greetings when you wake up and before you go to bed. Update your partner on the happenings of your daily life. Message one another spontaneously throughout the day, but also consider setting aside designated “date” times to chat and engage in fun long-distance activities together. Scheduling times to communicate is especially important if you and your partner have drastically different work schedules or live in different time zones.Mix up the ways in which you communicate, too. Send text messages along with snippets of audio and video. Set aside times to video chat, and consider writing a proper love letter every now and then.
When difficult subjects come up, you’ll need to determine which form of communication works best for both of you. Is it easier to work through a disagreement over Skype, or are you more likely to respond better when given the chance to reply to written messages? Whatever you do, strive to avoid getting upset and responding with the “silent treatment,” as this can make disagreements particularly tricky to resolve from a distance.
Every couple’s communication style will be different. Try different things, and see what works best for you. Eventually, you’ll fall into a groove that suits you both.
Get Flirty, But Stay Safe
Being sexy and flirty in a long-distance relationship is a great way to keep the flames of passion burning. Be flirty with your words, sending teasing messages and innuendos. Before things get too heated, however, it is important to take a step back and evaluate your comfort level regarding long-distance teasing. Are you comfortable sending this person risqué photos and videos, or are you afraid that these things could be used against you in the future? If you’ve been in a committed relationship for a long time, perhaps you can trust this person. If not, it might be better to wait until you meet up in person before allowing yourself to be vulnerable with your partner.
Bond via Online Dates
Though you might not be able to visit the cinema or a restaurant while dating long-distance, you can still bond with your love interest through digital dates! Have a “movie night” and watch a film or TV show online; message one another while streaming or video chat about it afterwards. Go shopping together online; put a few favorite items on a wishlist and let your partner pick one out for you, or simply look for things to surprise one another with! Call one another and go on a walk in the park; take pictures of flowers and animals you see along the way and send them to one another later. Follow a crafting tutorial and learn how to make something new together. Video chat while working on your project! Start a two-person book club and read one of your favorite novels together; when you reach the same chapter, discuss what you think. By dating from a distance, you can get to know your partner and their tastes and interests on an even deeper level. Enjoy doing the same things together using the power of technology!
Make Plans to Meet
Long-distance relationships work best when there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Once you know your relationship is a serious one, commit to visiting one another. These plans might vary, depending on how far apart from one another you live and how much travel is possible for you. If you both live a few hours apart, you might be able to see each other for two long weekends a month. If you live on different continents, perhaps you could visit one another for a few weeks once or twice a year. Given the current circumstances, travel plans may be uncertain, but commit to meeting up when you can. Spending time together will allow you to physically bond and go on dates like a “normal” couple. Having hope for the future will keep you optimistic, even when distance takes its toll.
Discuss Future Goals & Dreams
Meeting up on an infrequent basis won’t sustain your relationship forever. Though certain commitments may keep you apart from one another for a given period of time, you and your partner should strive to make concrete plans for the future. How long will it be until you can live together? Will you move to your partner’s city, or vice-versa? Don’t talk in terms of vague dreams! Make concrete goals, and set a timeline for your relationship. Think about the long-term future, too. Would you two like to live together right away or not? Would you want to get married or simply remain partnered? Can you see yourselves owning a pet together? By focusing on a concrete, real-life future together, you can motivate yourselves to work towards your goals, making your relationship dreams a reality.
Enjoy Time with Your In-Person Contacts
When caught up in the romance of a long-distance relationship, it can be easy to neglect your “real” life and those in it. If you find yourself constantly messaging your lover and waiting for their calls, you may need to take a step back and re-evaluate the nature of your communication. It is important to stay engaged with the world around you, too! You might feel lonely, but you likely aren’t alone. Meet up with friends in your area, join a local volunteering organization, or return to an old favorite hobby. Stay in touch with your family. Encourage your partner to pursue his or her interests, too. Perhaps you could both learn a new language and master the basics before going on a trip together. Simply put, it is important to stay connected to the people and activities that have shaped your identity. By doing so, you can remain a balanced person, and can form a more secure attachment with your partner. Live your life, connect with your friends and family members, and savor your alone time! Once you and your long-distance partner are together for good, you can make the most of your time together, too.
Give Each Other Personal Gifts
Though you might not be able to be physically present with your lover, you can send them things to remind them of your love. Send a postcard or a handwritten love letter spritzed with your favorite perfume. Send them an item of clothing that you love to wear or exchange lockets or rings. Create a playlist with songs that remind you of them, or start writing a journal of things you wish you could say to them each day. Send them the journal, let them write in it, and repeat the cycle. Consider sending larger care packages if you have the means to. Fill them with mementos, trinkets, and typical romantic gifts, like chocolates. When you can’t be in the physical presence of the one you love, sometimes the next best alternative is sending them a gift that they can hold close to their heart. Receiving a love letter or gift from you is guaranteed to put a smile on your lover’s face.
Long-distance relationships may be challenging, but they are often worth the effort. Studies show that long-distance couples often share a stronger bond as a result of communicating more frequently throughout the course of their relationships. Work on cultivating trust by sticking to the “ground rules” of your relationship and by establishing healthy communication patterns. By making the most of your time apart, you can grow as a couple, ultimately developing a bond that could last for years to come. Invest in your relationship and make things work despite the distance! When you finally have the chance to be together full-time, you’ll realize that it was worth the wait!
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