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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.

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 April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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