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How to Make Long Distance Relationships Work for You

How to Make Long Distance Relationships Work for You

As you pick up the phone and start to talk to your partner, your eyes become dreamy as you imagine being with them, but in between calls your mind is wondering whether your long-distance relationship will work or not.

This is a common situation for people in long distance relationships. It’s common to start considering how to make long distance relationships work for you.

Today I’d like to reveal untold secrets to long-distance relationships that actually work, so you can benefit from using these powerful strategies to enrich your love life.

Do Long Distance Relationships Work?

Honestly, the answer can be yes and no.

There are three key components in keeping a romantic relationship alive and thriving:

  1. Shared vision
  2. Emotional connection
  3. Sexual intimacy

Clearly, in a long-distance relationship, the third key component is absent because you can’t be intimate with your partner in the bedroom when you are in two different locations.

Keep in mind that a relationship with emotional connection but without intimacy is actually just a friendship. Obviously, you don’t want to friend-zone your partner or have this happen to you.

In order to ensure the health of a long distance relationship, try to put the following strategies into place.

How to Make Long Distance Relationships Work

When you are in a long-distance relationship, you need to build a shared vision, be responsible for how you feel, and support each other emotionally… but without always relying on your partner to pick you up when you are feeling down. Remember that to maintain attraction and not be friend-zoned, you need to consistently be in charge of how you feel.

Since you may only see each other sporadically, it’s also important to deal with any intimacy function issues so that they don’t hinder your ability to connect with your partner when you’re together. This will also enhance your own self-esteem and the emotional and physical connection in your relationship.

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Trust is very important in a relationship, and a long-distance partner needs to know that their investment in time and energy is going to yield a happy and fulfilling life together.

Use the following strategies to ensure the health and longevity of your long distance relationship:

1. Create a Shared Vision

Building a very strong shared vision will not only increase your emotional connection but enhance attraction for your partner. Here are two examples that demonstrate this point.

Example 1: Sarah and Joe are in a long-distance relationship and are building an online business together. They have a shared vision of growing their personal development business to become hugely successful while benefiting as many people as possible. Their goal is to live in the same city within 1 year.

Example 2: Alex and Samantha are a couple in a long-distance relationship. Between them they have two children (a 13-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl). Both love their children very much and want the children to have a happy family life. Because they want to role model a happy relationship for their children, Alex and Samantha are planning on moving to the same city in the near future.

In these two examples, these two couples have an obvious and straightforward shared vision. As a result, their long-distance relationships work well as they are committed to creating a happy future.

Whether you are in a long-distance relationship or live in the same location, having a shared vision with a higher purpose is key to staying focused on what you want to create. This is especially important during times of disagreement.

However, many couples don’t really have a strong shared vision and are not clear on what they want to create together. This lack of a shared vision can make your long-distance relationship unsustainable.[1]

Make Sure You Are in Alignment With Your Partner

It’s important to make sure you’re in alignment with each other’s desires so you can build a strong shared vision with your partner. This can happen if you have a business or charity that you are building together, or if you are developing yourselves as individuals and as a couple so that you role-model what an ideal relationship looks like to your children.

Even if you aren’t interested in starting a business, you can still consider something realistic and practical, such as designing a particular kind of lifestyle that you and your partner can share together within one or two years.

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Creating a shared purpose will make you and your partner look forward to creating an exciting life together.

Never underestimate the power of anticipation!

The stronger your shared vision, the more likely you will be determined to stay together and work to create a happy future during times of high stress.

2. Strengthen Your Emotional Connection

You should work on constantly strengthening the emotional connection with yourself as well as your partner. This requires being responsible for how you feel and not putting all your needs on your partner.

Living apart can be challenging, but it’s not good to dump all your concerns and day-to-day worries and stress on your partner as this can cause them to question your attractiveness as a life partner.

The fastest way to get knocked back to the “friend-zone” is by sharing every moment of every day. This is because it is boring and leaves nothing to your partner’s imagination.

While it may be tempting to call your partner every day, being in constant contact can actually make your partner less attracted to you and damage your long-distance relationship.

Developing yourself as a person through having a life outside of your relationship is essential for all couples in a long-term relationship. Sharing exciting discoveries through meaningful communication builds a genuine connection and can lead to intense attraction.

An Exciting Way to Enhance Connection

To enhance your emotional and intimate connection, consider using sexting to make your long-distance relationship work for you. Short, cheeky text messages can have a much higher impact than just sharing your day and helps to create sexual tension to be enjoyed by both partners.

In this way, you can respond to each other’s messages at a more leisurely rate… keeping in mind that the longer you wait before responding, the more attraction you will spark in your partner.

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Timing is a powerful tool. Respecting your partner’s needs outside of your own goes a long way toward enhancing their attraction for you. Sext your partner when the time is right, i.e. when your partner is not having a meeting with their boss, lunch with their niece, or visiting their parents, etc.

To enhance physical as well as emotional attraction, it’s important to demonstrate confidence and self-esteem. This includes inside as well as outside the bedroom.

3. Discuss Sexual Intimacy

This is something that most people don’t want to talk about. However, cultivating intimacy is essential for developing a healthy and happy relationship.

In a long-distance relationship (especially in the early stages), it can be tempting to focus on your emotional connection and all that’s going well and not address any potential threats to your relationship.

In my practice, I have experienced several couples in long-distance relationships who refused to discuss the topic of sexual intimacy with each other.

Usually, avoidance about sexual intimacy indicates a personal concern in this area, and in many cases, a partner is worried about an issue affecting sexual function. These issues are very common (31% of men and 43% of women report difficulty in this area) and can greatly affect a person’s self-esteem and self-worth. This will often lead to avoidance of discussing this very important topic.

This is a dangerous choice that will generate anxiety and frustration in the relationship as one partner begins to wonder why their partner is not interested in being sexually intimate with them. It is, in fact, a common cause of relationship breakdown in a long-distance relationship.

It’s important to note that intimacy issues are usually caused by focusing on the wrong action at the wrong time, which is something you can work on.[2]

In western culture, sexual intimacy is often viewed as a taboo topic, and this leads to much confusion, frustration, and disappointment when not discussed by a couple.

This is amplified in a long-distance relationship, where couples often focus on building their emotional connection. They may wait much longer than other couples before discussing intimate needs, meeting in person, and being able to engage sexually.

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If you choose not to discuss intimacy with your partner in a long-distance relationship, you are basically sailing your ship without a rudder, and this can result in dwindling interest, as well as lowered libido and sex drive.

Hence, it will serve both partners to learn some skills that can help you fulfill intimate needs in your long-distance relationship so that you can make your long-distance relationship work for both of you.

Ways to Fulfill Intimate Needs in a Long-Distance Relationship

While it’s important to discuss your intimacy needs so you’re on the same page, fulfilling these needs in a long-distance relationship can be a little more challenging.

As I mentioned earlier, you can start to sext your partner. This does not require nudity. In my opinion, when you are still wearing something, you look even sexier because that gives your partner some space for imagination, which is very important in terms of keeping the spark fresh in your long-distance relationship.

It’s important to focus your attention on how you want to feel. Imagination is a powerful tool at your disposal, which you can use to enhance your awareness of feeling intimately connected. You and your partner can set up an intimacy call, where you describe in detail what you imagine doing to them. The partner on the receiving end “tunes in” to that experience and images how wonderful that would feel.

Focusing your attention on how it feels enhances your awareness of feeling, whereas focusing your attention on the mechanics of providing that act keeps you in control.

Your imagination can also sabotage your happiness, so be careful where you are allowing your imagination to take you.

Another way to fulfill intimate needs[3] in a long-distance relationship is to channel your intimate desire into something creative, e.g. writing a novel, going to the gym, or transforming your career.

Realistically, when your intimate needs are not met directly by your partner, and you’re not focused on that being a problem, then you are more likely to build something phenomenal for yourself.

Just make sure you don’t try to suppress your arousal as “trying not to think about it” will just enhance your awareness of it. This is because where your focus goes, energy flows.

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Final Thoughts

Long distance relationships require conscious effort and attention to detail. Like any other relationship, you need to communicate your desires and dreams for the future and take steps toward achieving them.

More Tips on Handling Long Distance Relationships

Featured photo credit: Vladimir Kudinov via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Jacqui Olliver

Psychosexual Relationship Specialist

How to Be a Better Lover and Spice Up Your Relationship 3 Simple Signs of a Strong and Healthy Relationship 3 Signs of a Failing Marriage (And How to Deal With It) How to Make Long Distance Relationships Work for You Why Boundaries in Marriage Are Good for Your Relationship

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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