Being Together – Apart © Martyn Carruthers
Local relationships can be challenging enough. Distant relationships, unless you really enjoy time alone, can be more difficult. You can enjoy a long distance relationship if you are willing to work on it. Give your relationship a chance to survive and thrive!
Love can ignore distance and grow more intimate with sharing.
I live in Canada, and my fiancée is working in Fiji. We nearly split up a few times, but since your coaching we are planning our future together. It’s only ten more months …
There are many reasons for long-distance relationships. Lovers may hope for a future together; we coach people by telephone and Skype; family members may enjoy a sense of togetherness, and team members need to keep in touch. Long-distance relationships need at least as much care and attention as closer relationships.
Long-distance intimate relationships can be difficult and challenging. While frustration, insecurity, boredom and suspicion can be destructive, the most deadly threats to future happiness are temporary replacements … or affairs.
Your attitude is crucial – recall the good times and wonderful moments that you enjoyed together. Remember those times you knew that your partner loved you and cared for you. Realistically plan for more and better times like that.
Long-distance casual relationships (pen-pals) are great for people who are interested in each other’s lives and cultures. Long-distance intimate relationships are for people who are committed or devoted to one another, and and willing to make sacrifices now for their potential future together.
All important relationships require care and attention. Probably everyone in a relationship feels frustrated sometimes, and distance can worsen the frustration. Long distance relationships will test you both. Remember that real relationships have real relationship conflicts! Some key questions are:
- Do you like who you are?
- Are you attracted to healthy people?
- What are the consequences of betrayal?
- What does exclusive relationship mean?
- What is your track record with relationships?
- What is important about this particular person?
- Does this person share your life goals and values?
- Do you have enough patience for a distant relationship?
- Are you entangled (obsessed, addicted or bonded) to this person?
- Are you attracted to this person – or to what this person has or represents?
Making the Distance Closer
Perhaps you met online and you live far apart, or maybe once you were in a relationship and one of you moved. Maintaining a long distance relationship can be challenging if you and your partner decide to keep your relationship together while you are apart. It’s difficult but not impossible. Long distance romances can work; and they need extra effort and planning to manage the distance and time apart.
- Define your relationship … are you both clear on the boundaries and goals of your relationship? Although these conversations may be awkward, they can help prevent heartache and wasted time. Are you casual friends? Colleagues? An intimate affair? Exclusively dating? Hope to marry? Or what?
After our session, I asked my (distant) girlfriend, “How do you hope to benefit from our relationship?” She was annoyed at first, but I said that I am not telepathic, and I told her my hopes and dreams … defining our goals helped us both focus on what we want.
- Communicate often. Communicate your feelings as well as your knowledge. Tell each other about your successes and failures. Perhaps use Skype or other internet programs to chat, perhaps with web cameras. E-mail is useful, although e-mail can increase the risk of misunderstandings. Write love letters as appropriate. Send small gifts
We talk most days using Skype. The connection is not always perfect, but its much better than silence. Sometimes I think that we talk more than if we were physically together.
- Perhaps start hobbies or projects that you can enjoy working on together.
- Do things together. Long distance couples can benefit from doing other things together besides the Skype or phone calls. People in relationships share things. You can, for example, read the same books, walk in nature or watch the same movies more or less simultaneously, and then compare and contrast your experiences.
It didn’t seem very realistic, but we followed your ideas about doing things together – apart. It’s great! And talking about how we each did similar things really helps us feel together.
- Know the benefits of a long distance relationship. You can enjoy more time with friends and/or family, studying or building a business. Maybe build a nest egg with overtime. You have time to consider your choices and you can enjoy being physically close after a long absence.
Since my husband was sent to Iraq, we found some benefits of long distance relationships … it’s not easy, but it’s so important that he continue being a father to our two sons.
- Be relaxed and flexible. If you both want to be in a relationship, stick with it. If one of you decides that the other person is not appropriate—or that someone else is more appropriate—your relationship changes, whether you live on both sides of the planet or in the same home.
Many times we both thought that we had no chance. We both had interesting offers from other potential partners. You showed us that if we can hang in there for one more year, we can survive anything. We will ask you for premarital coaching soon!
- Talk about your past and your future together. If you want to be together, discuss how you’re going to get there – show each other that your relationship is going somewhere and that efforts and frustrations are not wasted.
We remind each other of our great times together, and talk about how we can have more great times. We both research places that we want to visit, budgets and travel details.
We recently decided to get married on a beach in Hawaii.
- Create relationship standards. Shared values and shared goals support stronger relationships. Know and compare your values. Can you accept each other as you are, can you practice trust and honesty, seek spiritual unity and maintain open communication?
- Be optimistic. Stay positive and focus on the positive aspects of a long-distance relationship can keep your relationship alive. Use your personal time for your interests as well as your career. A long distance dating can help both of you be more creative, communicate better and test (and express) your feelings.
As long as we see the long-distance phase of our relationship as temporary,
we can communicate our feelings of security and happiness to each other.
- Assume positive intentions. Jealousy and drama destroy relationships. Long distance relationships are difficult. Trust that your partner is trustworthy until proven otherwise. Avoid interrogating your partner. Don’t be naive, but allow yourself and your partner to have social lives.
Common Concerns of Long Distance Dating
A partner worth having is a partner worth waiting for. If you share something wonderful then although a long-distance relationship may not be easy and you’ll both cope with loneliness, the reward for waiting can be worth every lonely second. The deciding factors that can stop a long distance relationships from reaching successful conclusions are … the relationship skills of the partners.
We help motivated adults manage their emotions and improve their relationship skills. Contact us solve emotional and relationship problems.