Sometimes we have no control over who we feel attracted to and who we fall in love with. Meeting Mr. Right can sometimes be a big surprise, especially when that Mr. Right does not live in the same city as you do. Long distance relationships, despite being less than ideal, happen regularly and many last far longer than most would have expected. Being in a committed relationship with someone means putting in time and effort into the partnership.
Spending quality time together and getting to know one another. Long distance relationships mean that quality time is spent on the telephone and over email and it is often far more difficult to put in the time and effort required. For one thing it is easy when in a relationship to spend time with your partner and your friends or family. In a long distance situation, however, one tends to isolate from friends and family in favour of spending time with your partner on the phone or over Skype – neither of which are particularly social activities.
Furthermore, the practicalities of this sort of arrangement mean that there will be specific times at which you can connect with your partner and this may be hindered by work, family and social obligations and even different time zones in some cases. So the connection and communication is not all that easy to maintain over long distance. Yet, despite the myriad difficulties that relationships across distance endure, there are still quite a few of them that survive and become fulfilling long term relationships.
The first and foremost rule to making long distance relationships work is to ensure that you create and maintain open and honest communication of your expectations of one another. In this sense, both partners need to be clear about the time that is available for communication and connection, as well as the how and when involved. Discuss your expectations around social events – is it ok for you to go out with friends and attend functions and parties. This may seem pedantic, but it is important to discuss these issues as often one partner may have a different view to the other and this area has big potential for creating insecurity and mistrust in the relationship. As long as you are both clear about the “do’s” and “don’ts” in the relationship then you will find it easier to meet each other’s needs.
While apart, it is important to stay connected and have similar interests and goals. Couples living together will do things together. In this sense, it will be useful for you to watch the same movies and shows, read the same books and perhaps even take on the same hobbies. This will ensure that you always have something in common to connect over. Keep connected by staying interested. Ask each other about your day and endeavour to find out about your partner’s schedule. Keep in contact via messaging and send each other playful messages as well as the serious ones.
Being in a long distance relationship can sometimes mean that the playfulness leaves the relationship. Feeling like you have to talk about serious and meaningful things when chatting can exclude the day to day banter that couples living together will experience. The key is to maintain as much ‘normal’ connectedness and communication as you would were you living in the same area.
Delaney is a senior registered psychologist working with people of all backgrounds and with a special interest in LGBTI+ people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and Indigenous people.