Long Distance Relationships Work. Here’s How!

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As you can see from the title, today we’re talking about long distance relationships.

About two weeks ago, I asked my WhatsApp contacts these questions;

  • Do long distance relationships work?
  • Can you handle being in a long distance relationship?
  • Which do you think will work best: being in a long distance relationship for the entire period of time you’re together, starting out long distance and closing the gap or going through a phase where you do long distance?

This is going to be a long one, so I’ll share the answers I got in a brand new post. For now, feel free to leave yours in the comments section. But first, let’s get into it.

A long distance relationship is a romantic relationship between partners who are geographically separated from each other, and I do not think the question is necessarily about long distance relationships as much as it is about the long distance phase of a relationship – because those few cases where the entire course of the relationship will take place long distance, in my opinion the real question there is “What are you in a relationship for?” because I mean, physical intimacy, those things that you’ll miss, they may not be everything but they matter a lot.

Benefits of Long Distance Relationships

With that being said, I think long distance relationships get a bad rep, they are always talked down on and I do not know why. The benefits of a long distance relationship are undeniable because whenever you’re not with someone physically, you learn quickly whether or not you’re right for each other and can easily rule them out if you realise they aren’t.

There are a lot of people in relationships and they’re just convenient for each other. They’re attracted to each other, they admire each other, they care about each other, but they’re not right for each other, because their foundation is disproportionately heavy on the physical side, whereas in a long distance relationship you get that totally taken away.

Also, I know everyone talks about this best friend thing but a long distance relationship is a great way to find out. In a long distance relationship, you’re only going to get the communication, only going to put in the effort into communicating if that person is your best friend. How? Nobody can force you to hit them up and talk for hours every time you hear a funny joke or see a meme that you think they’ll like, or every time you accomplish something.

Long distance relationships test not only your communication but your discipline and will power. Anybody that has been in a long distance relationship can attest to the fact that if you’re faithful, it feels like you’re celibate, and this may be difficult especially if you were sexually active with your partner before one of you had to leave. It lets you know you’re in it for real if you just will not violate what you promised, and even though you’re not getting from your partner what you’re used to getting, you still refuse to get a substitute.

As a man, you have to realise that if you plan to be with someone for the rest of your life, there will be times when it’s going to feel like you’re in a long distance relationship anyway. Like when your wife is pregnant? You can’t have sex with her in the latter part of the last trimester and you might not be able to have sex with her right after birth for at least a month or two while she recovers and her body is off limits to you. So if you’ve already done long distance, you know you can handle it!

There will also be times when one of you is out of town for a few weeks and you have the opportunity to have sex with someone else, but you’ll already know that you can walk away from the temptation because during the long distance relationship you did the same thing even though you could have gotten away with it.

A long distance relationship will show you a lot about who you are and whether or not you and your partner are right for each other or you’re just convenient then. And if you’re in it for the right reasons, the long distance won’t break you.

Phases of Long Distance Relationships

As a seasoned veteran of the LDR, I can tell you, long distance is never ideal, but if you do each phase right, you can be more connected than those couples who have their partners in the same town.

Here are a few phases you’ll have to pass through, from your first goodbye till you meet again:

1. The “Let’s Try Long Distance”/Honeymoon Phase

When you first start dating someone, it’s easy to imagine everything is perfect. While it’s totally fine to ride the high of love that absence can magnify, it’s important to focus on building healthy long-distance dating habits from the very start to set your relationship up for success. Whether you or your boyfriend has to suddenly move for work or you find yourself falling for a long-distance guy from the very start, it can be easy to just say “Of course we can make it!” In the honeymoon phase of long-distance it can seem like you’ll never run out of things to talk about, that the energy you have at the beginning of your new adventure will always be there. You feel confident about your relationship and your decision to make it work over long distance. But that’s not always going to be so, which brings us to..

2. The “We Miss Each Other”/Lonely Phase

Eventually, the Honeymoon Phase will wear off. If long distance is new to your established relationship, you’ll recognize the empty space where your partner used to be in your day. The key to navigating this time is to keep your partner as a priority. Don’t let those scheduled calls or that regular care package slip away from you. It’s the little things that will keep the two of you feeling connected.

And it’s important to keep yourself busy. So keep moving! Getting yourself outside and keeping yourself occupied is vital. Find a hobby or something to invest yourself in, to keep busy while they’re away, because let’s face it, it’s tough to feel sorry for yourself if you’re having a good time.

Technology is also your best friend in this phase. Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp video calls have made it so much easier to have face to face conversations with your beloved. Don’t take these for granted, even if it’s just a quick call to say good morning or a text to let them know you’re thinking of them.

3. The First Doubts/Panic Phase

Usually, at this stage, people don’t feel as confident about their decision as they did initially and so at this stage, if your partner misses calls or doesn’t reply texts as fast as they usually do, or you find that you just don’t talk as much as you’d like, you start worrying and some friends may even suggest that something is amiss. Don’t listen to them. Breathe.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll overanalyze the situation and jump to some extreme conclusions. You may even tell yourself, “I can’t do this anymore.” This is perfectly normal, but it’s important to ask yourself why. Are you saying this because you’ve hit a rough patch or is there something truly incompatible?

Here’s a hint: a knee-jerk reaction won’t help you here. Take a deep breath and a step back before moving forward. Ask yourself what it is you need from the relationship and which of those needs aren’t being met. Are you or your partner letting one another down in some way? Once you have the answers to these important questions, you’ll be more prepared to move on to the next phase without doubt and anxiety plaguing you.

4. The Communication-Centered Phase

Most couples will tell you that the key to any long term relationship is solid communication. This is especially true of long distance relationships. As any relationship ages, the mundane things can take over your attention, so you should focus on administrating your relationship (talking about your schedule and to-do list), working through conflict or talking about how to keep up with your busy lives.

Managing expectations can be the difference between a failed relationship and a successful one, so you need to discuss what the relationship looks like, what you’ll like to change, etc. For example, discuss how often you will talk, what some of your goals are and how often you will visit each other.

Even ten minutes of focusing on each other rather than the “outside world” can make a huge difference. The joy of rediscovery through meaningful conversation can cement a mutual trust and acceptance.

5. The Trust Phase

It’s not always easy, but those three little words – “I trust you” – can be the difference between a long distance relationship that fizzles out and one that goes the distance.

When you enter into the trust phase, your partner is someone you accept and depend on and it was earned through all the hard work you put in during the communication-centered phase. This faith in one another, however, isn’t passive. It’s a daily commitment to fight for each other, for time together, and forgiveness when that time isn’t met.

This is an amazing place to be in for any relationship, but it carries even more weight when you are in a long distance relationship. As you grow comfortable with this new space, you’ll find your relationship strengthening to levels you didn’t even know were possible. With trust comes deeper love, deeper commitment, and might even bring you a step closer in terms of physical location too!

6. The Reunion Phase

This is obviously the best part of any long distance relationship. Seeing one another after a long time apart can be the best feeling in the world: the final reward after weeks and months of waiting. You’ve done it! You’ve made it!

Be sure to prepare for this moment by having a discussion with your man about your expectation for the reunion. How will you use the time you have together? Are you looking forward to focused quality time together? Or are you eager to visit as many friends and places as you can together as a couple? Differing expectations here could mar your reunion with conflict and hurt feelings.

If this reunion is just one of many, with no end date in sight for your long distance relationship, use your time together to re-calibrate your relationship and set goals for communication for when you say goodbye again.

How To Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Long distance relationships force you out of your comfort zone, they force you to grow outside of yourself and to try something new. Two people will have to step out of their zones into missing each other like crazy, having their discipline, self control and will power tested. That’s when they realise that they have to shift gears and rely on some other things.

It’s not going to be fun, let’s be honest, long distance isn’t always fun, but it can definitely be beneficial. And for couples that are right for each other and have their foundation right, it actually helps them come out stronger if they do the right thing within it.

So here are a few things to consider when you want a long distance relationship work:

Communication:

Being in a long distance relationship is like losing one of your five senses. For instance, if you lose your ability to see, you have to rely on your ability to hear in order to be highly functional. It’s the same thing with couples that have to be miles apart from each other all of a sudden. You can’t see or touch each other, you can’t go on dates, so what you have to do is focus on the other senses of your relationship, communication being one of them.

A study showed that couples in long distance relationships have more meaningful interactions than those in close proximity, and these interactions lead to a high level of intimacy. Who would have thought!

This just means that in order to keep the romance alive, communication plays a huge role. You’ll have to discuss deeper things than “Wyd”, but there is a downside to this, one of which is that you may end up idealizing your partner, failing to acknowledge the fact that they’re human. You may end up seeing only their positive attributes because you’re not seeing them every day.

Also, most people get this part wrong. They think communication means being in constant contact and is the best way to make it work, so you close from work every day and immediately text your partner, you get home and immediately facetime them, and even facetime for hours before going to bed. This isn’t in any way a bad thing – to the contrary, it shows that you’re in a healthy relationship where you can talk about anything. But the problem with this is that it leaves no room for excitement, except when you share good news with your partner or you do something extraordinary.

Most people believe that spending a lot of time talking is the key to communication, but I don’t agree. There is such a thing as over communication, so I believe that it’s all about the quality of your interactions. I think it’s better to sometimes send a few strategic texts during the day that will make your partner’s day rather than sending twenty five that have no real meaning. Sometimes don’t even text at all. Let the tension build up and then at the end of the night, really have that quality time before going to bed.

Also, because you can’t rely on physical touch, you have to communicate. You have problems in the relationship? You can’t just sex it away. You can’t just close up and go to another room when you argue. You actually have to talk things out. Dates? You don’t get to integrate them into your everyday lives like “I’m here. You’re here. Let’s go” You actually have to talk and make plans and make time for those to happen.

Setting Clear Expectations:

It’s time to have that talk that starts with “Now that we’re in a relationship, I don’t think it’s appropriate to…” and fill in the blanks yourself. If you require a call or text every morning or night, let your partner know. If you won’t feel comfortable with them spending too much time with some members of the opposite sex, especially when there will be alcohol in the mix, state it. State your expectations clearly but do not demand anything. Let them show you how much they value the relationship with you by their actions afterwards.

If the end result of the relationship (i.e a life together) is what you’re after, you should be willing and ready to talk about and subsequently adjust anything that might hinder the relationship from working over a long distance. For instance, “I’m not used to talking, but now I have to be more emotional because it will help our relationship,” “You shouldn’t just walk away and give me the silent treatment when we argue. We have to talk things out.” “I would love to hear your voice first thing in the morning and last thing at night.”

Quality Time Over Quantity Time:

Try not to pack too many activities when you do see each other. Don’t go from not seeing each other at all in two weeks or a month to spending so much time doing stuff that you forget to just have quality boring days in. If you do this, when you eventually close the gap and start living close to each other and experience the boring days when life sets in, you’ll think there’s something wrong in the relationship.

Your relationship will not be a series of crazy weekend getaways forever!

Reassurance:

Doubts, insecurities, and jealousy can run high in long distance relationships simply because you’re spending so much time away from each other. This is why I’d recommend using frequent verbal assurances with one another. They help minimize these negative feelings and clarify where you stand as a couple.

The next time you talk, tell your partner how much you love and appreciate your relationship. And if you’re feeling uncertain about where you stand, don’t be afraid to ask for reassurance for yourself. “I love you and wish we could be together today,” is as wonderful to say as it is to hear.

Securing your attachment by supporting each other’s interests:

Whether you’re together or far apart, you and your partner will continue to grow and change as life moves forward. That is both normal and a good thing – even if it forces your relationship to change in the process.

I think long distance couples who have a secure attachment together are able to let each other grow and mature. They find ways to stay connected and push each other forward. In a secure attachment relationship, personal growth and change is healthy. It’s a product of security and safety in the relationship.

One of the best things you can do to promote a secure attachment is supporting your partner as they grow in their individual strengths and interests. While it might be frustrating if her new hobby cuts into your nightly catch-up time, it’s important to encourage her to do what she loves – just as she should for you.

Finding ways to hang out together while apart:

Research shows that interdependent relationships are proven to be the healthiest form of relationships for marriage. What does that mean? That means you and your partner do things in sync together while maintaining your own separate identities as individuals. Chances are your long-distance circumstances are forcing you to do more things independently than you would probably like, which is why it’s really important to identify a few activities you can do remotely but together.

Having shared experiences with your partner increases your bond. Finding things you can do together as a couple pays off big time in helping you feel more connected, and that’s a huge win when it feels like the distance is pulling you in two different directions.

Whether it’s reading the same book, streaming the same show/movie while talking on the phone, playing games online, listening to the same playlist, or even eating at the same chain restaurant on the same night – all of these can help you and your partner feel more interdependent and, ultimately, more connected.

Learning how to address important issues.

Whether you’re living under the same roof or far apart, all couples need to learn healthy ways to talk about and resolve conflicts. Bigger problems can arise if you ignore little struggles or are unwilling to address sensitive topics.

If you don’t feel comfortable bringing up tricky issues over the phone, they won’t be resolved, because let’s face it, when you visit each other, you won’t want to ruin your time together by starting an argument. This might create a vicious cycle where you feel like you can never share what’s bothering you. You would eventually blow up and break up, and it would be unfair though because they would have no idea anything was even wrong.

If you’re struggling to bring up difficult topics, tackling hypothetical scenarios together can help ease you in to those conversations. Learning how to talk about difficult topics takes time and effort, but it’s essential to the health of your long-distance relationship so you don’t let small problems balloon into bigger ones.

Focusing on the positive aspects of the distance.

Being separated from the person you’re madly in love with can hardly seem like a positive thing. But where you can’t immediately change your circumstances, you can immediately change your attitude.

I know it sounds crazy, but I personally love being in a long-distance relationship. I can devote 100% of my attention to my boyfriend when we’re together, but when we’re apart, I can focus on all the work I have to do and spend time with my friends. It works really well when you have a busy schedule.

As frustrating as it might seem to be separated, try to think of a few ways your long distance relationship is actually beneficial. Do you have more time for hobbies or working out or spending time with friends and family? Make a list of the positive aspects of long distance and focus on these during the harder days when the distance is really getting to you, and make getting to know one another the focus of your conversations – not so much the withdrawal you are going through by being apart.

Trust:

Building trust in close relationships takes time. It’s not something that magically appears in your relationship after you celebrate anniversaries together. Research actually shows that trust is built slowly, in the little moments of your relationship. So be present and aware, and intentionally build the trust in your relationship.

Be open with your partner
An open and honest relationship is a healthy one. Don’t be scared to open up about what worries you, or about problems you can’t handle. The same thing goes for him/her. If they feel bad or frustrated about something, they should be comfortable opening up to you. Your partner is not only your lover, they can also be your best friend if both of you would just talk openly about what you feel. Be completely honest with your partner and trust that he/she will be with you.

Give them time for themselves
Though you are miles apart and may want to spend every minute talking with each other, you also have to give him/her space and time for their own life. Don’t demand for their time and don’t be over-possessive towards your partner because they might feel you’re already too controlling. They also have other important things to do and you can’t expect them to spend all their time on you.

Have faith in your partner
Having faith in your partner is also having faith in your relationship. If you believe in him/her and what they do, then you trust them enough to commit yourself, your feelings, and the relationship to them. Being faithful will make you feel positive and secure on most of the things within your relationship.

Don’t assume negative things to what he/she does
There might come an instance where you are going to be confused or alarmed about what he/she did. They might not call or tell you hurtful things unintentionally, but don’t jump into conclusions. Instead, assume that there’s a reasonable explanation about whatever he/she did. Maybe they were just having a rough time or were just too busy. Ask them about it the next time you talk, it will help you be a little less worried.

Always tell the truth no matter how painful it is
Lies are one of the main reasons why long distance relationships fail and come to an end. Telling the truth may not be easy to do but it is the safest option. Your boyfriend or girlfriend may get hurt hearing the truth from you but that’s better than hearing lies that would hurt them even more knowing that the one they love and trust lied to them.

Don’t make them doubt you because doubting is next to breaking trust. Be honest with your lover, it will make them appreciate you more for making a better decision for your relationship.

Trust your partner, and be a partner that can be trusted!

So I’ll end with this: if you’re in a long distance relationship, take heart and don’t give up. Be honest with one another and recognize that this is just a phase in your lives that could lead you to a deeper relationship. Remember what you are learning and apply it to the next (hopefully not so distant) phase of your relationship!

That’s it, guys!

What are your thoughts about long distance relationships?

What have your experiences been like?

Do you think it’ll work for you?

I’ll see you guys in the comment section.

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14 thoughts on “Long Distance Relationships Work. Here’s How!

    1. Juicy!!! Changed my perspective of LDR… tried it 2ice tho against my normal ideology, blew up in ma face.
      I still feel there’s no harm in diving in again this time with smallee’s C-caution. Thanks abunches dear ✌🏾

  1. Great piece. Imma share asap.
    LDR is totally very cool as it helps to build emotional strength and tolerance, trust and also withstanding challenges. I bet couples who finally get back to each after a long LDR enjoy happier and lengthier relationships. These highlighted steps are the bomb.
    However, if you know you really really can’t deal, it’s advisable to not try it.

    1. I agree with you. It’s not for everybody, but for those that actually do it and make the necessary efforts, it can be amazing.

      Thank you for visiting SmalleeWrites ❤

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