Facing a potential long-distance relationship (or LDR, as opposed to a geographically-close relationship or GCR) with your lover or spouse is one of the hardest situations to be in because most people have mixed feelings about long-distance love. On the one hand, they’re saddened by the prospect of physical distance; on the other, they’re curious to see if their love for each other is strong enough to withstand the often brutal feelings of loneliness. Either way, it’s a problem that can be overcome like any other hurdle in a relationship. Sometimes, a little time apart can be a good thing, distance making hearts grow fonder and all that! The key is to understand the dynamics of a long-distance relationship, and this can only happen when you know what all relationships require in the form of nurturing and nourishment to stay alive and well.
Communication in a Long-distance Relationship
This part of your relationship takes on greater significance in an LDR because communication is central to any kind of bonding between individuals. When you’re physically close, your words are complemented by touching, looks, gestures, facial expressions, specific mannerisms, and other nonverbal, body-language-type cues. That’s all gone in a long-distance relationship. FaceTiming is not the same thing, in case you were going to use that objection. Watching someone on a 2D screen isn’t the same as being able to hold their hands while you look deep into their eyes. As such, there are a number of things you need to be aware of on the communication front.
Don’t Force It
There’s no rule that says LDR couples should talk absolutely every day at a particular time. Set a more flexible schedule so there’s no pressure on either of you but also make sure you’re available when your partner needs you. Let the communication arise out of a need to share your day or your week with a loved one rather than become an obligatory ritual you engage in on a daily basis.
Be Clear About What You’re Saying
Verbal communication is not always the ideal form, and a lot of things get misread or misunderstood. Make sure your lover or partner clearly understands what you’re saying, even if you’re recounting a simple story of getting your garbage disposal fixed. People love hearing details because it brings them closer to you on a deeper psychological level. You need to be like a reporter obsessed with accuracy and details.
Don’t Just Use Video Calling
A lot of long-distance couples mistakenly assume that a video call once in a while is more than enough. Not true. Long-distance relationships are devoid of physical contact, as it is. Don’t take away even more from it by restricting your channels of communication. For example, why not send a surprise bouquet to your girlfriend using an online florist? Or make a special video at a place you used to frequent together. That’s powerful communication, too. The point is to figure out different ways to express yourself so the experience is kept enriched with new thrills and possibilities.
Don’t Go Overboard
Just because there are tools for video calls, instant messaging, social media, and other communication tools, it doesn’t mean both of you have to stay connected all the time. That’s exhausting, to say the least. In other words, don’t overload your remote lover with hourly updates on practically everything you did, said, heard, saw, or felt. They have a life too, so don’t make them obligated to keep following you on social media like a celebrity. Give them space and take some for yourself. As a warning note, a flexible schedule is good but make sure there’s some sort of a schedule or else you’ll see your shared time together start to dwindle, which is the last thing you want in an LDR.
Me Time and Boundaries in a Long-distance Relationship
All couples need to respect their partner’s boundaries whether they’re sleeping in the same bed or thousands of miles apart. There are certain questions you don’t ask, certain moments of your day you don’t share, certain thoughts that you don’t voice, and so on. This understanding generally comes over a long period of time in a normal relationship; LDRs are different because there are greater chances that privacy and the need for alone-time might be construed as secrecy and deceitfulness. That might sound uncomfortably like paranoia but humans are prone to that kind of thinking. The point is, dispel any seeds of doubt about your whereabouts or activities by being clear about needing time for yourself.
Be Clear About Personal Time
One of the biggest fears of any long-distance couple committed to a monogamous relationship is that their partner or spouse is cheating on them. Don’t complicate that by being unclear about your own privacy needs. If you need some me-time every week, tell your partner about it and trust that he or she will understand. Don’t go sneaking around avoiding her calls or being curt on a call just to get him to hang up. Those are the seeds of doubt you want to steer clear of planting.
Don’t Hide Stuff
Your me-time is extremely valuable and it’s nobody’s business to tell you what you can and cannot do. Even if you think your partner won’t respect your need for personal time, make it very clear from the outset. That way, you won’t need to lie about it or hide things from them later on. Honesty and trust are a huge part of any relationship, more so a remote relationship.
Spend Money on New Ways to Please your Long-distance Partner
The giving of gifts has always been a traditional way to express love from far away. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, you need to depend on it more than ever. Our advice: keep yourself constantly in search mode, always looking for gifts of emotional value that you can either send to your lover or hold on to until you see them next. They don’t have to be expensive but they do have to be thoughtful. Sending a particular spice or condiment that’s not available at your partner’s location, for example, is not only a thoughtful gift but also one lets them know you care about their smaller needs as much as larger ones. That brings us to the first of our gifting ideas and gifting tips for long-distance relationships.
A thoughtful gift idea is one that holds emotional value for the receiver as much as for the giver. This is probably the hardest type of gift for men to find; women seem more in-tune with this type of gifting, and it’s even been validated by scientific studies. Nevertheless, today’s fantastic spread of online shopping options for long-distance couples and overseas family members greatly reduces the stress of shopping for that perfect gift. It doesn’t necessarily make the decision any easier, but it does open up a lot of gifting possibilities that hadn’t struck you before.
Need Gifting Tips? See: 101 Gift Ideas for 2020 [Opens a new tab]
Keep one thing in mind at all times, though. It’s never about how much you spent to buy it; it’s about how much time you spent choosing it. It could be a simple video recording of you telling your girlfriend 10 reasons you love her, or just news that you went and visited his mom over the weekend.
Although practical gifts are certainly thoughtful, they deserve a category of their own. This type of gift goes beyond thoughtful and actually fills a need. It could be as simple as a subscription to Amazon Prime in the country where your husband works. Or, perhaps, your wife is serving her country in a far-away military base and would really appreciate a few good books from your library back home. Maybe an iPad stand is exactly what she needs because her arms are so tired from FaceTiming you every day!
The idea is to find something that makes their life more convenient because it shows that you care for them and about their well-being. Again, men might find it harder than women to choose the right gift for their girlfriend or wife; however, the mere act of searching for such a gift will help the man appreciate his woman’s needs.
Random and Unexpected Gifts
Not all gifts need to be thoughtful or practical. Sometimes, quirky surprise gifts are just as good. You can go corny and have selfie photo pillowcases sent to your boyfriend overseas. Or how about a wine and cheese gift basket delivered just in time for the weekend? Even a print of her favorite painting all framed and ready to hang might be a good idea. If you’re not on a budget, you might want to book some flight tickets so he can come home for the long weekend that’s coming up.
The gift, of course, depends on what the receiver may or may not like, so be wary of splurging on things like jewelry unless you’re absolutely sure they’ll love it.
How About You?
We’ve seen three things that will help ease the pain of separation in a long-distance relationship: effective communication, respecting boundaries, and learning the art of gifting. But what about how you deal with your own emotions and feelings?
It’s not easy being away from a lover or a spouse for weeks or months on end, and it can send you into a deep depression if you don’t have someone to talk to. Find a confidant with whom you can share your fears and inner thoughts – someone you can spill your guts to without worrying about what they’ll think or say. This is a critical part of being in a long-distance relationship. Don’t distance yourself from your friends and family because you’re busy pining away for your overseas love. Go socialize and make new friends; your life doesn’t have to stop because your soulmate is not around.
Another form of emotional support is to start a new hobby or join a fun course. Not only does it help broaden your social circle but the distraction itself can be quite cathartic. In many cases, it acts as a damper for negative emotions, fears, and doubts that arise from being away from a loved one. Social interaction is a key facilitator of good mental health so, if you want to stay healthy, go do something with other people.
Conclusion: Making a Long Distance Relationship Work
Making a long-distance relationship work means doing all these things and taking care of your own needs through it all. The fear of entering into a long-distance relationship likely stems from the fact that most people are pushed into an LDR by circumstance, not by choice. It’s an unknown abyss to many of us because the only experience we have up to that point is from hearing horror stories of how he cheated on her while she was away or how she left him for someone else in his absence. Stop being scared away by myths and gossip. Another couple’s troubles have nothing to do with you. If your relationship is strong, you’ll work it out.