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Published on March 13, 2020

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

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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