Getting the right kind of long-distance relationship advice has never been more important than in the age of the novel coronavirus. Even regular relationships have been elbowed into the realm of long-distance because of travel restrictions, lockdown protocols, curfew situations, stay-at-home orders, quarantines, self-isolation, and a new fear of physical intimacy never seen before. To offer a fresh perspective on how to effectively manage an LDR, we're sharing some excerpts from a recent interview with the stars of The Kissing Booth 2: namely, Jacob Elordi (playing Noel Flynn) and Joey King (playing Elle Evans).
Incidentally, the movie is about Noel and Elle being on either side of the country and struggling through their long-distance relationship.
Here's Joey's take on things: "Communication is key. Also, make sure you find time to laugh with each other. Don't take life too seriously. You should be dating your best friend at the end of the day."
Jacob echoes this view: "Pick up the phone, you know? Facetime is the greatest gift that you have in the world in a time like this. Don't send memes and GIFs, just give them a call."
And, in essence, that's probably the most important piece of long-distance relationship advice you'll ever get: Communication is critical, especially the verbal kind.
Now, we recognize that this doesn't necessarily make them experts on the subject because they're simply playing a role. However, we do assume they've done their homework on LDRs before committing to their respective roles. The fact is, their views are simply reverberations of what experts have been saying all along when giving long-distance relationship advice.
Let's explore the communication aspect of any relationship to understand why it plays such an important role in letting you stay emotionally connected with your long-distance lover, spouse, partner, or friend.
Communication is Cathartic
Psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and psychotherapists know all too well that encouraging a patient to talk immensely helps the therapeutic process. Hence, the couch. The couch, in fact, was the famed neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis Dr. Sigmund Freud's way to avoid "being stared at all day" by his patients. However, the real reason is that the reclining position encourages a person to open up and speak their mind. According to psychiatrist Nathan Kravis' book, On the Couch: A Repressed History of the Analytic Couch from Plato to Freud
, "recumbence in social settings has long served as an expression of freedom, pleasure, luxury, and intimacy."
But it also helps the other side of the communication; namely, the psychoanalyst. It helps them listen, absorb, make connections, and read between the lines; to understand what the patient is saying verbally versus what their subconscious mind is letting out without their knowledge.
The same is true of relationships as well. Any couple that communicates regularly invariably enjoys a healthier relationship than one whose communication is limited to the occasional grunt and the nod of the head. You know what we're talking about. Don't we all know that couple that can't stand looking at each other, let alone wanting to spend time together?
Communication is Oxygen
Communication in any form is inextricably intertwined with human life. It's been that way ever since we came into existence. From the moment we're born, we're hardwired to try and communicate our feelings, our thoughts, and our opinions. If we cannot express ourselves to others, we start to die inside. More importantly, we need to communicate with people we know and love, not just anyone. Is it any wonder why imprisonment and the act of being forcibly separated from our loved ones is the most popular form of punishment?
That might sound like an extremist view, but consider the fact that one of the worst punishments in human society is not the death sentence; it is a life sentence in isolation.
We're all feeling the effects of isolation as COVID-19 runs rampant across the globe. And the only way to effectively address the sense of loneliness that comes with physical separation from our loved ones is to communicate with them.
Communication is our life support system. Without it, we wither and wilt like a plant without water.
Communication is Easy When...
When you take the view that communication is an essential component of our physical and mental well-being, it suddenly becomes easy to overcome what we thought were hurdles. The discomfort of bringing up a sore subject, the fear of your idea being rejected, the doubts around whether what we're saying even makes sense...these barriers to effective communication can fall away when you realize how vital it is to your very existence.
Consider this: If we cut off your air supply and told you that you can only get it back if you walk over hot coals for about 10 seconds, how long would it take you to realize that the pain is going to be temporary but there's life at the other end? Not long, we assume. Think of effective communication being like that air, and all your mental blocks being the hot coals. Wouldn't you do anything to get past the unpleasantness and get to your goal?
That's when communication becomes easy. The trick is to keep your eye on the ball, ignore everything else, and just power through it. In a long-distance relationship (or any relationship, for that matter), your goal is to resolve any misunderstandings or ill-feelings using communication as the tool. Other things like giving gifts or making surprise visits might appear to smooth things over, but be sure that the ill-will will be festering under the surface, only to blow up in your face when you least expect it.
Communication is Honesty
Once you've reached that level of maturity in your relationship, communication becomes a pleasure. You want to spend more time talking and you love hearing the other person's thoughts and opinions. It's almost exactly like the early stages of a relationship when even a detailed account of her boring day shopping for clothes with her boring friends sounds like a cliffhanger novel to you. That's because there's none of that pain to be apprehensive about. When you've known each other for a little longer, the little irritations and pet peeves start to rear their ugly heads. At that point, you don't want to hurt her feelings by saying anything. So you let it slide and let it fester within you - until the day you blow up in her face and kiss goodbye to a relationship that could have been beautiful.
Avoid all that by communicating honestly from the beginning. It's hard because the hot coals seem to go on forever. But believe us, your 'firewalks' will get shorter and shorter as you mature and start to understand each other more deeply.
Every relationship goes through these various phases, and honest communication can help you move permanently into a relationship built on trust, respect, and mutual admiration. No more hot coals. Well, you may still get pelted with a hot pebble once in a while but you'll have to tools to deal with it in a healthy manner.
This is one of the best pieces of long-distance relationship advice you're ever likely to receive. So, understand it well and apply it to all your relationships. Oh, and don't forget to watch The Kissing Booth 2, now on Netflix! :)