All relationships are complex and unique; long-distance relationships are no different. They include the “We Choose to be Apart” type of relationship which is where both partners successfully live separately as they quite simply prefer it this way.
There’s also the “Looking to Move Closer” type of long-distance relationship. In this situation, life circumstances and practical reasons make it impossible for both members to live in the same neighborhood or sometimes even the same country. This is tenable for an agreed length of time but is not desirable long term.
A final kind of long-distance relationship might be categorized as the “There’s No Rush to be Together” type. This is likely to be experienced by young people where the ‘living apart’ may occur as those in the relationship have physically moved away from one another to pursue other life dreams before settling down together.
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Do long-distance relationships work?
In 2005 a survey suggested that in the United States 14 to 15 million people were considered to be in a long-distance relationship. In 2015 closer to 14 million people considered themselves to be in a long-distance relationship. About 32.5% of college relationships are long-distance.
About 75% of couples in long-distance relationships end up being engaged at some point in the relationship. Around 10% of couples still maintain a long-distance relationship after marriage. About 3.75 million married couples are in a long-distance relationship in the US alone. [source]
These statistics about long distance relationships prove that they are hard to maintain. Fortunately, there are certain ways of maintain an LDR.
Regardless of the reasons for the existence of long-distance relationships, it is clear that they need a special kind of nurturing.
How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work?
Whilst it is often young people who are making their way in the world who are in some type of long-distant relationship it is not exclusively their territory. Sometimes dealing with the unexpected can lead to middle-aged or established couples with the task of navigating a long-distance relationship.
For example, older couples may find that they are separated as one person in the relationship must return home to care for elderly parents. Alternatively, one person may find themselves taking a ‘too good to miss’ career opportunity away from the couple’s home, leaving the other partner behind to tie up loose ends before they too relocate.
For various reasons, this type of separation can take its toll on a relationship. Diverting from routines and established patterns of behavior can lead to emotions and actions that perhaps neither partner would have expected.
Simultaneously one or both partners may be feeling of bewilderment and loss, isolation and loneliness whilst simultaneously experiencing personal growth and the excitement afforded by new openings and opportunities.
Partners have to work hard to avoid resentment or frustration seeping in when their lives and emotions accompanying it are perhaps no longer always in sync.
It is essential to be aware of the dangers that living apart can bring and make efforts to maintain the stability of a long term relationship.
Here are some ways to grow a long-distance relationship that really works:
Be Each Others’ Number One Fan
Distance means so little when someone means so much.– Tom McNeal
When embarking on a long distance relationship, particularly one imposed on a couple rather than chosen, it is essential to be supportive of one another.
Your goal is to boost your partner, lessen any feelings of loneliness and demonstrate that you are ‘in it’ together. Now is not the time to niggle or be petty or to bring up old grievances. Instead, it is the time to remind yourself, each other and anyone else who will listen to what you loved about the other person when you first met and what you still love. Keep this in the front of your mind when apart and keep your goal of boosting the other at the forefront of your thoughts, words, and actions.
If one person is less keen on the long-distance relationship than the other then put together an action plan to make it manageable and once agreed go wholeheartedly into it. Voicing regret, frustration, and resentment too often is not helpful or positive. Do not take the relationship for granted but nurture it with kindness.
Life doesn’t get any less busy just because a couple is apart. In fact, the reverse often applies and it is easy to not communicate deeply or often. Send frequent funny and loving texts or funny photos to stay connected and to keep each other cheerful. Quite simply be nice to one another.
However busy you are setting aside time to really talk and listen to one another. Ask questions, be interested and be involved. Don’t assume that the other person is on the same page as you, share the details of your life and your emotions in a way there is arguably no need to do so obviously when together.
The failure to communicate effectively is dangerous when in a long distance relationship. The opportunities for shared glances, hugs and physical intimacy are not there. This can lead to distance, isolation, and loneliness. It is easy to feel ignored or misunderstood or not valued. Do not fall into this trap.
Give as Well as Take
A partner is likely to be the person with whom you can really be yourself and with whom you are most comfortable. There is no need to be anything other than your real self but remember that life is continuing for both of you. So don’t only focus on the person whose circumstances have changed.
Of course, be yourselves but be careful not to slip into using your partner as a ‘sounding’ or ‘moaning’ board and giving nothing back in return. Be interested and interesting; ask the advice of your partner; talk about them with the people you are currently amongst so they stay forefront and central to both your lives.
One of the worst things about being in a long distance relationship is not knowing when you can next see each other and be together. With this in mind have a strategy for how often you can meet and an action plan for how you’d like the long distance relationship to be replaced by being together.
When putting this together be sure to keep the ‘Being Supportive’ strategies firmly at the forefront of your mind.
Keep it Real
Being apart is tough and although it is doable, it isn’t the same as being together. Keep it real and accept that you will have real low points. When this happens allow some melancholy and nostalgia.
Watch your favorite shared film together, listen to music from your ‘early days’ and indulge in your feelings. Don’t allow yourself too long a wallow. Instead, make yourself and your partner proud by doing something productive. Walk, swim or go to the gym and get some positive endorphins running through your veins.
Meet Frequently and Make Your Meetups Fun
“The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.”Charles Dickens
A long distance relationship isn’t the time to penny-pinch. Meet up as often as you can afford to and simply be together. Be aware that whilst apart you may have started to view your relationship through rose-colored spectacles and have forgotten the annoying habits your partner might have! (Not me, I’m perfect.)
Remind yourself ahead of time not to have unrealistic expectations of each other and accept that there may be a time of readjustment. If you anticipate that the expectations of your time together may not be in tune chat this through ahead of time so that your itinerary consists of a balance of treats and downtime that you are both happy with.
Do not put pressure on yourselves or each other to make things perfect.
Going Back to the Good Times
The participants in a successful long distance relationship are likely to experience a range of emotions that might emulate that of a courting couple. From butterflies in the tummy to pain at being apart, to an acknowledgment of each other’s flaws and imperfections to a long term solidity of trust and companionship, relationships are continually changing and evolving.
Why long distance relationship are not that bad?
Why not view your long distance relationship as a romance in which you have temporarily returned to the courting couple stage. Be emotional, it’s good to feel and remember courting couples do honeymooners make. With this mindset, a long distance relationship is most definitely ‘doable’.
Long distance relationship can be incredible if you don’t measure the distance. For a happy long distance relationship, you just need to trust more in love.
Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?
What’s your opinion on how to survive long distance relationship?
Were you ever separated from your family or your partner? How did you manage?
Share, with your friends, ways to make long distance relationships workable? Don’t forget to write back to me.