In this life, if we find “our person,” the one we want to spend our lives with…we are lucky.
If we find our person and they happen to live where we live…we are extra lucky.
If we are with our person most of the time and live happily ever after…we are the luckiest.
But what about those of us who find our person, and they aren’t where we are? Or, what if we find our person and their work or lifestyle takes them away for periods of time, short or long? Or if you’re that person in the relationship? Have no fear! You can be the luckiest too. Long distance relationships CAN work, if you are aware of a few concepts and work with them when you and your partner are apart.
We’re not long distance…are we?
First, let’s define long distance. Long distance relationships are traditionally thought of as relationships where two people live in different locations. That’s likely the first thing that comes to your mind. However, there are many times in traditional relationships where distance makes its way in!
For example, work travel. Some trips are short, some trips are long. How do you handle both types? Separate vacations are another example. If there’s a boys trip, or girls trip, and you find yourselves apart for a number of days or more. There is also job transfers and relocation. Sometimes work requires one partner to be in a new location faster than the other partner can get to them there. Regardless of whether or not you’re in a “traditional” long distance relationship, distance can be a part of any relationship and when that happens, particularly if you’re not used to it, it’s important to be aware of things that can help sustain and build the relationship while you’re apart.
Situation, Duration, Location
What’s the situation for this distance thing? How long is this long distance scenario – five days, five weeks, five months? How far will you physically be? Does that play a role in the ability to see each other? Is it true long-distance, or is it just a temporary stint of being apart? Are you newly dating? Are you in an established relationship? Understanding the scope of the entire situation will help you figure out the most important, next part.
Knowing the parameters of the situation, setting expectations is critical. How often will you talk? How will you talk? Will you use video capabilities to see each other? Is your iPhone compatible with their Samsung? When in the day/week will you talk? What works for each partner? How often will you see each other physically in person? Is that an option?
It’s important to be REAL about each other’s expectations. If this distance stint is only for a few days, how critical is it you speak every day? It may be very critical for you! It may not be. If it is for work travel and the traveling partners days will be packed, will you be disgruntled if they don’t get back to your texts within minutes? Thinking about some of these things in advance is important to create a conversation around REAL expectations to make the situation manageable for both partners.
Beyond setting expectations, another important question to ask yourselves is: will the expectations fluctuate? There is a huge life lesson around flexibility being the best ability (and I don’t mean the physical body flexibility though that’s never a bad thing)! Unexpected things are bound to happen, things you didn’t account for you. You’re not able to video call your partner because you got dragged into a conversation with the VP of Marketing and that went an hour past your partner’s bedtime. Your partner went on a boating trip and didn’t have Wi-Fi for five days of your five week time apart.
Know there is a chance things like that can happen. By knowing they may happen, you/your partner can avoid unexpected disappointment, hurt feelings, and taking things personally. It allows you to have a healthy conversation around what happened, and making up for it in the next conversation or at some point after that.
Imagination, Determination, Conversation
Okay. You know the deal with this distance situation. You’ve set expectations together. And now you’re truly apart. Especially for traditional long-distance relationships, here’s where the magic happens. Not only will you be communicating based on the parameters you and your partner have set, but you can get creative! Use your imagination! If you want to avoid the dreaded “how was your day…good!” volley back and forth and have the conversation halt after that, how can you spice it up?
- Does it make sense to jot down a small list throughout the day of little things that happened that you wouldn’t normally bring up at home around the dinner table?
- Do you do a video call wearing your partner’s favorite outfit on you?
- Do you talk to your partner from a place that’s meaningful to you both, and let them know where you are?
Possibilities are endless for ways not only participate in conversations with your partner, but make them more fun or interesting and showing your commitment to him/her and to this long distance scenario!
Next level. If it’s a true long-distance relationship, how do you keep your intimate connection? What spicy conversation topics can you discuss?
- How about the latest racy thought you had about your partner since you last spoke?
- What fantasy are you excited to fulfill when you see each other again?
- Can you send them a message with a picture of the last place you were intimate with a sexy comment?
These don’t have to come up in every conversation, but a little shock factor and keeping intimacy relevant are important while you are apart.
If you are determined to make this work, to keep a connection with your partner while enduring long-distance, you need to game plan what it will take for YOU to feel satisfied with the situation and your partner needs to share the same. Then, while focused on one goal together, your determination will get you from the first day of distance to the last day of distance. Getting to those final days of distance leads us to the next part!
Distance is about end. There’s an upcoming visit, or end to existing trip, and you’ll be back in each other’s arms soon. Talk about it! Have a countdown of how many sleeps you have until you’re sleeping together again. Send a text or calendar reminder with the things you’re excited for when you’re together. Also, build that anticipation – get each other pumped up!
That amazing day arrives and you’re TOGETHER again! Insert all the celebration emojis here! Is there a way to make it special? Is that important to both, or one of, the partners? How can you celebrate? There’s the traditional flowers, or get a babysitter, etc. What other ways are there if you don’t need to add extra cost? Squeeze them with a bigger than usual hug, kiss them longer than your traditional get-home-from-work peck, use your words to tell them you missed them! However is appropriate to let them know you love them and missed them during your time apart is the right way to do it. Just make sure you celebrate the joyous occasion of being brought back together! Because when we get to spend time with our person and live happily ever after…we are the luckiest. And THAT should be celebrated!