ERP 082: How To Survive A Long-Distance Relationship
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“I have recently discovered your podcast and have listened to a couple episodes. I appreciate your insight in many relationship scenarios. I was hoping that you can dedicate an episode or part of an episode to long distance dating and how to sustain it. I have been dating my boyfriend for a little over a year, and we live one state apart. We seem to have an issue with communication, in that he doesn’t like talking on the phone that often and he has 2 jobs so he doesn’t have much time to give me. I wouldn’t call myself a talkative person, but i do love one-on-one talks and just building a deeper connection. It doesn’t seem like he is interested in that, and I feel im taking over the conversation most of the time. I have laid it out clearly that I need consistency and communication in a relationship. Dr. Higgins, is there anything you can speak on regarding what is needed in a long distance relationship and what may be signs that it may not work out.”
(Please listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript to hear my stories and examples to describe these points.)
Long distance relationships are tricky. Partners have to endure the discomfort and pain of not being in each other physical presence, missing out on being together, holding each other, and sleeping together. Many people avoid or refuse to engage in long-distance relationships as it is not for the faint of heart. They require a more energy, effort, and commitment on the front end.
However, if you have found someone special and you want to develop the relationship (despite the distance), then you will want to learn how to be more skillful, flexible, and creative.
The good news is long-distance relationships can offer some great benefits. They allow you to build a solid foundation, as well as:
- Have more time to build emotional intimacy.
- Be more clear and explicit about your needs, desires, and expectations.
- Have to work through insecurities. so that you can develop more trust in one another.
- Be less likely to lose yourself, as you will be more likely to keep your independent endeavors, friends, and interests.
- Feel stronger as a couple having gotten through the challenge of a long-distance relationship.
1. Have an end goal in mind
- Set a date when you will be ultimately be together.
- Know your level of commitment. What are you going to do when things get hard or when you start having doubts?
- Think about the long-term goal. Stay connected to the relationship payoff and reward, so that the investment will feel worth it.
2. Practice constructive communication
- Develop explicit communication skills.
- Clear the air when you feel upset. Talk about your experience.
- Be honest and open about your expectations, needs, desires.
- Be slow to judge. In a long-distance relationship, there will be a lot of room for misunderstandings and assumptions.
- Plan ahead together. Have fun dates and trips to look forward to.
3. Be Flexibility
- Try different modes of communication: Video conferencing, sending photos, videos, and memes.
- Be open to connecting when both people are available. It is okay to not talk everyday, as this allows time and space for desire to grow. Rules can drain the flow and natural excitement.
- Be aware of each other’s schedules and stress.
- Don’t keep score: “Believe me, after three years of long distance I’ve come to realize that sometimes you have to go the extra mile. My girlfriend texts me 100 times more than I text her, I visit her 10 times more often than she visits me, she makes the effort to call me or write me way more than I do for her. But we don’t keep score. We each do what we are able to make this work.” Submitted by StevenH92
4. Deepen your emotional intimacy
- Ask deeper questions of one another (see articles below for ideas)
– What would constitute a perfect day for you?
– If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
– Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
– What is the one thing that makes you feel alive?
- Craft the type of relationship you desire together (i.e. how do you deal with conflict? How do you deal with anger?)
- Read a personal growth book together.
- Take the Empowered Relationship Course.
5. Have fun & Be creative
- Read a novel or short story together.
- Play a game together. For example, play “Would You Rather?”… like would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly? Would you rather know secrets of the past or be able to tell the future?
- Watch a show together.
- Take a walk together.
- Send care packages. “I sent my husband a sapphire ring of mine that he would carry around everywhere, and he sent me t-shirts that smelled of him that I could wear at night so it was like I was getting a cuddle from him. There’s something soothing about having something physical that they’ve touched in your hands.” Submitted by Danni Little
6. Create space for sexy time
- Phone sex. I get this is probably not your first choice, but it is better than not sharing in your sexuality at all together.
- Ask questions about sexual beliefs, history, expectations, desires, etc.
- “You need to seriously trust this person: Scrutinizing everything and constantly questioning them only makes things worse, we both learned that quickly. Your sex life will take a huge toll, so you need to get creative.” Submitted by Alisha Cogdell
As far signs that the relationship is not working out, I would treat it like any other relationship. Look for signs of: Dissatisfaction, unhappiness, discontent, lack of intimacy, unresolved conflict, and lack of motivation. If you notice any issues, do your best to address them respectfully.
Click on this link to access the transcript for this episode: ERP 082: How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship
If you have a topic you would like me to discuss or a situation you would like me to speak to, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here.
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If you are interested in developing new skills to overcome relationship challenges, please consider taking the Empowered Relationship Course or doing relationship coaching work with me.