Long distance relationships are becoming a very real reality for many people, for a variety of reasons. Who is to say that you will find your soul mate in a local coffee shop and not half way across the world while exploring a new city? What about the man/woman that you just met and fell head over heels for – what if they get a promotion and have to relocate to an office in another country? How easy is it now to connect online and fall in love with someone in a completely different time zone?
There are so many situations that have people engaging in long distance relationships – which is why it is disheartening to hear people say that they cannot and will not work out!
In fact, studies have found that there is no support that suggests that long distance relationships are any worse off than those in geographically close relationships. Yes, long distance relationships are hard work, and require a lot of effort, but what relationship doesn’t? It also makes every moment that you have with your special someone that much more worth it. After all, it is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Relationship expert, Clarinda Brandão of Psychotherapy In The City shares with us some important tips on how to make long distance relationships long lasting and worthwhile.
Rochelle: What is the most effective way for couples in long distance relationships to get through an argument?
Clarinda: I feel what is key is to avoid email or text matches. When couples choose outlets like texting and emails they are removing their emotional selves from the fight and that will only escalate the argument. More so, it will actually make each partner feel even more distant. The key way to best communicate when sorting through some more difficult discussions is by phone or video calling. It’s not easy being vulnerable with your partner and speaking to them or seeing them, can be hard, but it’s in the vulnerability that the strongest connections are made. Plus, by being able to communicate with your own tone and/or facial reactions your partner doesn’t need to read in-between the lines or make assumptions of how you’re actually feeling. Because let’s be honest, when we are angry no matter how kind our partner is being through text or email, we read it through our own hurt and anger - which ultimately results in miscommunication and even more pain.
Rochelle: What are some ways couples in long distance relationships can express their love to one another?
Clarinda: This is probably one of my favourite parts of being in a long distance relationship. Couples are more pressured to be creative to express and maintain their relationship when they are further apart. which results in putting more effort into their connection than dating someone geographically closer. It’s important to stay connected daily - even if its a text or phone call to check in on your partner. It’s fun to think of ways to show your partner you’re thinking of them - whether its an email, a letter (yes, people still write letters) or even sending a “care package” in the mail.
Most importantly, communication is key! We can show love in many ways, but making time to connect with your partner via phone, text, email or video calling is probably the best way to show we care and that the other person is an important part of our life, regardless of the distance.
Rochelle: What qualities are necessary in both partners to make a long distance relationship work?
Clarinda: Understanding and security. Those two words pop in my mind when I think of long distance relationships. It’s important to understand each other and be understanding of each other. Meaning, both will have to be patient with one another when one is busy and can’t be there for you in the same way as someone geographically closer. When you’re in a long distance relationship, those harder days where you’d love to just cuddle into your partner and cry it out - looks different. You have to be more understanding and patient with the process of dating.
Security - that’s a HUGE one… reality is, for some, that is probably the hardest piece. Being secure in your relationship is hard even for those that live in the same city… now add oceans, cities or different time zones to the mix! That might feel like the biggest hurdle for many relationships. It’s important to discuss your boundaries and expectations with your partner when you decide to take the leap into a long distance relationship. Setting up boundaries will allow both partners to feel secure in their connection. This can also mean identifying whether this is an open relationship or closed one.
Rochelle: How long is “too long” to go without seeing one another?
Clarinda: That all depends on the couple themselves and their own schedules. I think each relationship looks different and can go longer or less time a part.
I feel it is important is to plan ahead! Always have a trip planned to connect, after you’ve returned from being together (or during) plan the next trip. This allows both to feel connected and have something to look forward to. When couples don’t have a set plan of the next time they will be seeing each other, it puts a lot of pressure on the relationship and couples begin to feel the weight of the distance.
Rochelle: What are some ways each individual in the relationship can cope with being apart from their significant other?
Clarinda: It’s good to maintain a normalcy in your every day life - this means having your own hobbies, connecting with friends and allowing yourself to still do things that you love - instead of waiting by the phone or going home to text the night away. Having a fulfilling life outside your relationship whether long distance or not is important and a must for a emotionally healthy life.
Overall, long distance relationship take more work; however, they can be more fulfilling in other ways. Remember, there is a lot of communication that happens during these long hauls apart, after all, you can’t just sit across from your partner and eat in silence or even watch a movie on the couch together - so, communication will be your biggest asset to maintain a healthy and long lasting relationship when you’re apart.