Ways to strengthen your long-distance relationship
Being in a relationship is the most wonderful, special thing that you experience. They make us want to be better people, to be kinder and more compassionate. They teach us how to care about someone other than ourselves, to understand what we want in a partner and how to love. However, being in a long-distance relationship requires an additional kind of teaching. It requires a deeper kind of commitment to each other, transparency and a different way of communicating. Long-distance also means that you get to the serious and deeper conversations earlier on in the relationship, which can be overwhelming and nerve-wracking. But having to establish your relationship and commitment fairly early gives you a solid base on which you can build upon.
At some point in your relationship, you will have established that you’re both in it for a reason and want to commit to it. The challenge of any long-distance relationship, other than being apart, is communication. Sure, in any relationship communication can be a core problem but in a long-distance relationship, where you’re apart for weeks at a time, communication is all you have. Therefore it’s vital that as a couple you understand each other’s needs and communication styles. Without taking the time to sit down and talk about how you each communicate best and what your expectations are, you will run into the trap of miscommunicating and interpretation. Getting your relationship out of this trap can take longer than needed if you haven't defined the way you both communicate.
As I mentioned, being apart forces us to talk and share our feelings a lot sooner than you might want to. We often don’t open up to that person who is closest to us until we feel ready because we want to protect ourselves from being hurt. But through being apart you will naturally be more aware of each other's feelings, making it very important to be transparent in how you feel and how you communicate it.
If you’re struggling to open up, or have hit a wall in your relationship follow the tips below on what you can do to improve your communication, understand each other and gain a brand new relationship.
Learn your love language
Knowing how you and your partner express and receive love is the first step in overcoming communication barriers. We each have a different way in which we feel loved, and how we give it. We might not be even aware of how we feel cared and loved for, so how can your partner know how to express it in a way that you will feel it most.
Gary Chapman has defined five love languages, each different to the other. Through following a quiz you can view which of the five categories you fall into. Knowing your own love language and your partners is an essential part of understanding how you can show you care and express your love in a way which will translate the best to each other. Take the quiz here: https://www.5lovelanguages.com/.
Depending on the type of person you are in a long-distance relationship, chances are both of you will have different communication styles. Some will need consistent communication and connection on a regular basis, while others can be quite content with talking less regularly. Whichever type of communicator you are, you need to know what your partner is - especially if you both have different needs. This is one of the main reasons why confrontations and arguments can appear in a long-distance relationship. One of the hardest things with being apart is that if things escalate, you can’t sort it out face to face which can cause frustrations and tension between you both. To solve the issue you have to rely on the way you communicate with each other, to have an open and honest discussion about what is the core problem. Which again brings us back to our needs and expectations.
Have a discussion with your partner about the type of communication they need, whether it be more texting than calling or vice-a-versa, and make sure that you both establish the level of contact you need. If its poles apart come to a middle ground, to compromise on something that will meet both of your needs. It's also important to define how you can support the other if they are anxious, stressed or need more support. The way you communicate when stressed might be completely opposite to when you’re not. Meaning our communication style will change with your headspace. Layout the different scenarios that could happen and how you tend to react to them with your partner. Being aware of this can help you be there for the other rather than get annoyed when trying to figure out what’s wrong.
Talk to each other
It might seem obvious but talking to each other, not just about your goals or your dreams, but your feelings and your thoughts can bring you closer even if you are miles apart. When you encounter dips in your relationships or the start of negative mind space, talk to your partner about it as soon as possible. If you have an expectation or feeling annoyed voice your thoughts. Don’t let your feelings simmer and get worse, accept them and talk about them. Bringing them to the surface will help you and your partner solve the issue there and then. Remember, you might think that how you’re feeling is obvious and that your partner should be able to pick up on it, leading to further aggravation. But this isn't the case and shouldn't be what you expect to happen. The only person who knows how you’re feeling is you, so open up and say it as it is. You’ll find that this route allows you to cut the rubbish quickly and lets you get back to your normal happy relationship by eliminating any grudges or annoyances.
Challenge yourself to open up about topics which might be difficult to openly discuss. At first, it might be painful or embarrassing to bring them up between you. But what will quickly follow is relief and a feeling of closeness which only strengthens any relationship.
Be present and live your own life
It’s too easy to keep thinking about your partner, what are they doing, how are they feeling, when will I see them again - wanting the weeks to fly by so that you can spend a weekend together. You can fall into this trap without even realising, and way too often. Centring yourself and coming back into the present is what you need to do to refocus on yourself. Start caring about yourself, start giving yourself the time and love you need to find your own happiness. Get out and do the things you want to do, fill your time with adventures and hobbies that you love doing. Remember that life doesn't stop when you're apart, and that you need to keep living yours.
Read our article about how to stay present here.
It can be daunting to have a conversation with your partner about where you see yourselves going. It can be difficult to imagine how the future might look like or what it will hold. Regardless, you both need to have some common ground on where you will be within the next year. During being apart you will need a point in time that you have both decided you will stop being long-distance. Defining this gives you a way of reminding you where you are heading as a couple once the time is right. Being apart can be difficult, and so in times of struggle, it's a way to bring you back to the present.
Make the most of your time together and time apart and enjoy your journey.