Not too many long distance relationships work. The majority appeared doomed from the moment two lovers go their distant ways. And as the saying goes, out of sight often becomes out of mind. However, in one situation or another, you might find yourself separated by distance, for example work transfer. But there are steps you can take to protect your long distance relationship from the apparent inevitability of failure. Let us look at some of them:
Communication in long-distance love unions
This is the secret that will keep intimacy in your relationship alive. Your communication channels must remain open at all times. “You must communicate as regularly as possible, and update each other on how your day or events have been,” says psychologist Ken Munyua. He also says that you must also deliberately go beyond phone calls and online chats and start doing similar things such as watching the same movie series, or reading the same books. “This will give you more to talk and cheer about other than the routine ‘How was your day?’ inquiry. It will also give you a sense of trustworthiness and closeness,” he says.
According to Dr. Wendy L. Patrick, a behavioural analyst and the author of Red Flags, the frequency with which you will talk about certain subjects will largely depend on the type of communication you have been having even before the distance came between the two of you. “For instance, synchronous communication (video chats and phone calls) is mainly used for friendship talk among long distance couples while (electronic) letters are mostly used for both friendship talk and love talk,” she says. Dr. Wendy recommends that your communication should not just be about what you talk about but also how you talk. This will help guard your feelings of relationship satisfaction.
Suspicions in long-distance relationships
Long-distance relationships evoke higher fears and worries over possible infidelity than geographically close relationships. For example, if you only physically meet your UK-based partner once a year, you might fear that he has someone else who meets his sexual needs in your absence. This is not always the case.
“While such fears are normal, and potentially true in some cases, they should not fuel behavior and attitude that slides towards suspicion,” says Dr. Andrea Bonior, a psychologist and the author of Detox Your Thoughts: Quit Negative Self-Talk for Good and Discover the Life You've Always Wanted. She also cautions against playing detective on your away partner.
“Once you start playing detective, your partner will quickly pick up the cues and feel untrusted and unwelcome, leading to a breakdown in communication or a total breakdown of the relationship,” she says.
Building trust in long-distance relationships
You will not be able to trust your partner if you cannot trust yourself. “Trust must be earned and given out in equal measure. This build-up of trust must transcend the sexual,” says Dr. Bonior. For example, if you say you will be in touch at a certain time, you must strive to be in touch at the said time. If you have scheduled to fly out and meet each other on a certain date, do not postpone unless there is a valid reason to. “Stick to your plans. Plan their execution in advance and don’t start a habit of shelving things you had scheduled to do,” says Dr. Bonoir. For example, if you have planned to do a live video chat, get a good and stable internet connection that will ensure that your conversation will be as clear as though you are having it in a room together.
The target in long-distance relationships
In a long distance relationship, geographical closeness should be your ultimate goal. This means that issues such as relocation should be part of your relationship goals. Who can move to the other without upsetting their individual life? At what point should permanent relocation be effected? “You must also be clear from the word go if there is possibility of the away partner extending their stay beyond the time he was scheduled to be away,” says Munyua. For example, if he went abroad for his Master’s degree, will he pursue a job search or return once he graduates?
Growing yourself in long-distance relationships
One of the benefits of long distance relationships is the total retention of individuality among couples. This means that you have a lot of room to develop and grow as an independent individual. “Convert the distance into an opportunity for both of you to accelerate your individual growth. Do not put your lives on hold. Neither should you peg your financial hopes on the partner living in the dollar country. Grow yourself,” says Munyua.