10 Ways to Build a Loving, Long Distance Relationship!
The Internet Highway has changed the way we live and the way we love. It has changed the way we socialize and it has also increased the likelihood of finding love over the internet. Conversations are easy to strike up with regularity and it’s easy to discover that you have strong feelings for someone who lives hundreds or thousands of miles away from you! Many people are choosing to have long distance relationships (LDRs) LDRs might feel wonderful at first. However, they come with their own set of unique challenges as well. Many couples are blind-sided by the impact an LDR can have on their daily life. This person can now feel so close to you because of the internet and yet in reality, remain so far away. The paradox is weighty. The more prepared you are to handle the situation, the better equipped you both will be to make decisions along the way that will benefit you and your partner and possibly make it a safer and enjoyable experience. In this article, I have addressed 10 areas that you should pay special attention to when considering an LDR:
Identity. Your parents always said “don’t talk to strangers.” Long Distance Relationships that begin on the internet go against that rule 100% If you’ve never met the person, there is the issue of dealing with someone who is not who they pretend to be. They may also not be single. You don’t know their history. You only know what they tell you and what they show you. If this is the case and you like the person and they like you – I would recommend doing an online search to make sure they are who they say they are. Even then you cannot be sure but it’s a start. If you feel like your relationship could possibly get serious, the cost of the search is an investment in attaining some level of security.
Are they single? The internet is a perfect playground for people who are intent on cheating emotionally or physically. So you’ll have to do your due diligence to make sure they are available. Can you contact them anytime you want? Do they relegate contact with them during very tight windows of time? Do they suddenly have to get off the phone or shut down their connection? Can you reach them in the wee hours of the morning or in the middle of the night and have long conversations? Are they available during holidays or have that job requiring them to work every holiday?
Fidelity. Are they the loyal type (Presuming you are). Because you are miles away, you don’t have a birds’ eye view into their life. So if you have confirmed that they are available, now you have to confirm that they are just involved with you. That is something that can be proven over time. The question is how long will it take and do you have that time to invest? If so, then you want to be certain that this is not someone who is just using the internet to widen their player game. When someone is into you – they are 100% available for you and only you. It’s easy to not pay attention to the signs when they are right there in front of you when the image on the camera is attractive or you’re being told everything you want to hear. So be transparent with your life and ask the same of them. If they rarely want to let you see them on the camera or have issues with spontaneous conversations and are rarely available or extremely controlling, chances are you are not the only person in the picture or they are just not that into you.
Holidays. Remember that holidays happen all throughout the year. They will be a consistent reminder that you are in an LDR. If you are serious about maintaining your relationship you have to realize that long distance relationships cost money. In the beginning when emotions are high and love is in the air, finances don’t seem to be an obstacle. As a matter of fact, there is nothing that seems to be able to come between the two of you. However, reality sets in and catches many new lovers off guard. The desire might be high to meet but the budget could be low, unless it is planned for. So right out the gate, know that if this long-distance relationship is ever to go to the next level, you will have to take into account expenses to make meet-ups a reality. Where there is a will, there is a way. Both people should try to make equal efforts to visit one another to avoid resentment on the part of one party that could eventually break-up the relationship. If that’s not possible, then try to share the cost of one person traveling to see the other. If the holidays are approaching and it’s not possible to see one another, then you have to find a way to maintain the intimacy in spite of the distance.
Insecurity. Long Distance Relationships are not for everyone. Your trust will be tested. That combined with the reality that you don’t have the luxury of being able to get to know one another on a daily basis in person and it can heighten the insecurities. You must assess if you have the ability to withstand those elements. You may have the potential for a great relationship, but if you can’t stand that strain, it’s best to be honest with yourself and with each other before going down that road. It is possible that you could salvage a very good friendship instead or part ways with dignity and care. Figure out ways to help one another feel secure. Will you check in all throughout the day, one a day or one a week or whenever you feel like it? You have to establish what will make you both feel comfortable and yet not suffocate one another. Quite often the level of paranoia and insecurity is so high that people end up stifling one another with their imaginations. This is a very important step to cover. Also, what can you do for each other that will make each of you feel special? Send periodic messages just to let them know you are thinking of them. Really pay attention to your partner and learn who they are, what they like, etc. If someone loves poetry, books or music – take time to send them a book of poems or create a playlist and send to them. In these ways, you display your affection across the miles and let them know you are thinking of them.
Conflict. Long Distance Relationships are already stressful by their very nature. Try to minimize that stress by choosing your fights. Is it worth it to argue over every little thing? The relationship might not survive it. When you do argue, ask yourselves are you arguing over the issue or is the frustration from being apart fueling the anger? Is it that important that your partner showed up 5 or 10 minutes late for a skype date or a phone call or are you really upset because you want to see them? Try to remember that you both committed to this LDR. It is not necessarily anyone’s fault if you can’t get your needs met exactly when you want to. It is a choice you both made so try and be as compassionate and respectful with one another as possible. The internet can only stand in for true intimacy up to a certain point. On the other hand – if you met someone whom you love deeply and that love is very mutual, then time can endure much in exchange for the great reward on the other side.
Communication. Communication is especially important in LDRs. You will have to go the extra mile to speak with clarity. This can be very trying for a lot of couples since we normally take for granted that we always have time to clear up miscommunications during the course of a day or at the end of the day when we get home. LDRs can’t always take it for granted that they have that time. The relationship is probably already strained, insecurities may lurk beneath the surface and the slightest miscommunication can bring negativity looming to the surface, especially in the beginning. When you tie into that, the fact that there may not be a lot of physical contact or the knowledge that there won’t be, any time soon – every miscommunication can be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. In a relationship where two people are in daily contact with one another, a misunderstanding can be discussed later and the friction can be solved with conversation, physical contact, affection and love-making. (I am not suggesting love-making solves all problems – but it helps if it can be part of the toolkit) In your traditional relationship models it is easier, in many ways, to resolve conflict. LDRs do not have that luxury. If you don’t deal with conflict well and avoid it at all costs, LDRs offer an easy out. Every episode of conflict can make the relationship better or worse depending on how you view and respond to conflict. So much hinges on what is said and what is not said. If you’re challenged with talking through conflict, have problems knowing or expressing your feelings quickly, or know that you’re a sensitive individual, rethink an LDR. It doesn’t mean it cannot work, but you both will have to work extra hard on your communication styles and skill. Hanging up on one another angrily with no assurance of working things out later, playing possum and pouting for indeterminate periods of time are the bedrock failure for most relationships are built on, let alone LDRs. The only thing you have is electronic communication between one another. If you express your anger and discontent with one another constantly by disregarding the communication and one another time and time again, you end up with simply an abusive relationship and eventually nothing. Equate it with people in a traditional relationship who are constantly walking away from one another and giving one another the silent treatment. How long would a relationship like that last? So whatever you would not do in a traditional relationship – don’t do in an LTR. Cowards act out and hide behind computers. Be better than that.
Planning. A considerable amount of planning goes into an LDR. Where two people who live in close proximity of one another or who live together can coast from day to day, playing much of their relationship by ear so to speak, LDRs require more planning. Holidays, dates, birthdays, etc all must be planned. If you can’t spend a holiday together, how will you find a way to be “together”? How can you date one another over distance? How can you make special days like birthdays and Valentine’s Day feel special considering the physical absence of one another? Depending on how far apart you presently live, you will have to factor in the cost to mail gifts, surprises etc. Travel has to be factored in. If you have a job, you have to make sure you schedule the vacation time you need. If you’re in school you have to work around that schedule also. Time spent together which we take for granted is now at a premium and becomes very valuable.
Honesty. Honesty promotes intimacy. If you are not willing to be honest about your feelings throughout the relationship, think twice about being in an LDR. You might feel like this is a safe haven because you only have to share but so much of yourself in a relationship over distance. You share what you want and when you want. You control when you want to talk to someone and when you want to be available. If that’s going to be the premise by which you operate, then your LDR won’t hold up over time. LDRs that last and develop into long-term relationships evolve out of continued and increasing intimacy. So if you struggle with intimacy and interacting on a regular basis over the long haul with someone, your relationship will run out of steam. Also if you feel you can’t endure the inherent limitations of physical contact with someone on a regular basis then don’t start down this road either. Most of all, be honest to the person you are dealing with in an LDR. You both made the choice and since no one forced you to be involved. if you decide to deal with someone that you can physically be with or met someone who lives closer to you, remember there is a real person on the other end of the line. Don’t just drop them because you can. Even though your feelings or needs have changed, try your best to treat them with respect and love. Give them the same care you would want from them. Karma is always on the job. What we don’t need is a lot more hurt people connecting on the internet than we already have. Connect responsibly.
Creativity. If you accept this mission you have to open up your creativity in order to keep the spark alive. When you are together virtually, things can become mundane at times. Just as it can when two people who are physically together have been together for awhile. Unless a couple in an LDR pays attention, it can happen with them too. It can happen ever quicker because of the frustration from lack of physical connection or sexual contact. One person may be able to use their imagination to cross that physical bridge while the other one can’t. So you must be able to gauge whenever that is happening and commit to stay engaged. Here are some ideas to help jumpstart your imagination:
Take the 5 Love Languages Test by Gary Chapman. This will help you understand each other’s love language so you understand what the other needs to feel loved.
Watch tv together on skype.
Use music as a means of expression and connection to one another. Share playlists, watch YouTube videos, play an instrument for one another.
Meditate together with soothing music or a guided visualization in the background.
Do “facetime” together when you’re outside and show one another what you see via your phone camera
Take pictures and share them.
Make short videos and share them. They can be funny videos, Dirty Dancing videos – just make sure to be yourself!
Dress up and meet each other on Google hangout or skype and eat dinner together.
Have a skype breakfast together where one person is in the kitchen cooking the meal and the other person is watching. Record and send a segment to your partner for future savoring.
Make virtual vision boards together of your future vision of your relationship. It will keep you motivated to remain in the LDR vs. aimlessly staying in it with no end in sight.
If you decide to venture forth, know that you will both need to be very positive and not just for yourself but for each other to make your relationship work and to keep the flames burning. If one seems to be doing more of the work than the other, it will erode the relationship. The Internet Highway has expanded the reach of our hearts. The advantage: We have an opportunity to meet people we might not otherwise meet. We also are forced to get to know them on a deeper emotional level then we would if we had met and continued the relationship in person, because they are not physically available. So LDRs have the potential to reach the depths that other relationships may not. You may find that you are more candid and vulnerable in an LDR in time than you ever have been with other relationships of close proximity. The Disadvantages. You just aren’t able to be together all the time and that will create more stress the longer you are apart. The Answer: Faith, Focus and Love. The Question: Do you have enough? Will Time tell or will you tell Time? Your Choice. Your Destiny! Remember – never go to bed angry. Say “I love you” everyday and remember those words throughout the day. I wish you success and hope one day you get to close that distance.
Annette R. Brent, CLC is a Certified Life/Relationship/Spiritual Coach and radio show host. She likes to capture the beauty of life around her and share it with the world in spoken and written words and photos. She is an avid online writer and coaches people daily via her strong internet presence.
She specializes in coaching women to Survive, Thrive and Feel Alive in life, love and work. She practices Coaching with Compassion and she will be there for you without judgement and you WILL see changes.
She assists her clients via several modalities – including one-to-one in person sessions, phone coaching, skype, instant messaging and group coaching.