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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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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