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14 Things No One Tells You About Being in a Long-Distance Relationship

14 Things No One Tells You About Being in a Long-Distance Relationship

Boy meets girl. They go crazy over each other, knowing one of them is leaving town in less than a month (or a week, or a day!). The story never gets old.

The dreadful day approaches. They’re at the airport, time is running low. There are tears, sloppy kisses and endless promises that they will get through it no matter what! One leaves. One stays. But know this: “dating” in no way prepares you for a long-distance relationship. It is a different kind of ball game altogether.

Before moving to France to be with my partner, I spent over a year living in a limbo of visa paperwork, lonesome nights lying awake, and carefully crossing out days left until we met again.

Now, I need to put it in bold: long-distance relationships seriously suck!

Below are 14 things no one will tell you about being in a long-distance relationship, except for someone who has already done it.

1. Congrats! You’ve got a free ticket to an emotional roller-coaster ride!

Some days will be fine. You’ll just do all the usual stuff — go to work, catch up with friends for drinks, walk your dog and work out every day to look fit when you finally meet again.

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But there will be terrible days too. Days when you don’t want to get out of bed or do anything meaningful — except for embracing your pain and loneliness. Days when you seriously question your decision: “Is it worth it? Why am I doing this?”

You’ll go from moments of tremendous joy together to hopelessly depressing thoughts on the night before your departure: “Will I survive another separation? I’m not sure how many more times my heart can be torn apart until it finally breaks!”

2. There will be a lot of tough choices to make

So where are we heading? How do we see our future together? Should I leave everything and move to you? Is it worth it? Who will come and visit? When?

Get used to the endless swirl of complicated questions you both need to answer honestly.

3. Your laptop is your real significant other

At least for now.

You will fall asleep with your beloved’s face on the screen. The first thing you’ll grab in the morning is your laptop to check if they’ve already sent you a sweet “Morning, sunshine!” email. You’ll put your laptop next to your plate so you can have dinner together.

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You’ll also get to know all the latest video, chat and photo exchange apps, all designed for couples who are apart.

4. Time will be your main enemy

When you are together, you’ll savor each and every moment. You’ll plan to do all those amazing super-romantic couple things, or simply enjoy the warmth of actual hugs as long as possible. Yet, you will never get enough time.

But once apart again, you’ll simply wish the clock ran faster: “Is it Friday already? So, there’s just 24 days left until I visit. Can I please wake up on day X?”

5. You will get more creative trying to fill up your time

Always wanted to learn French? How about play tennis, enroll in a Japanese cooking class, or master ink drawing? This is a high time to find new hobbies and try new things. Keep your mind engaged and let it focus on learning new skills. Besides, isn’t it an awesome way to impress your partner when you finally catch up again?

6. There will be all sort of memory triggers that will cause you to randomly cry

I thought I was emotionally strong. I was proved wrong. Numerous times.

7. It won’t get easier in time

Even if you think you can get used to being apart and are now stoically waiting for when things get easier, they won’t. No matter how long you are in a long-distance relationship, you always miss your significant other like crazy.

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Revisit points #1 and #6 and accept that.

8. You learn to live in a twisted reality

They’re never there, but they’re all yours. You spend too much time inside your head replaying all those sweet moments spent together, having all those daydreams and conversations.

That’s odd. I know.

9. Your friends won’t be as supportive as you expect

“OMG! So you’re like one year into a long-distance relationship? How do you cope with, you know … desire?”

“Does your boyfriend even exist?”

“Why don’t you find someone else to date?”

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Right.

Why can’t a cat become a dog?

10. Long distance feels heavy

Your partner won’t be around every time you desperately need them, not on one of those “bad days” when you are one step away from a yet another mental breakdown. Not on those days when you fail and need more support that any sweet words on Skype can convey. Eventually, you learn to cope with a lot of things on your own, and you grow stronger and more mature in the process.

11. Finding the time to visit is complicated

You won’t be able to come and visit each and every weekend or month as you originally intended to. You still have different and conflicting commitments holding you back. (Or else you’d be sitting next to each other already, right?) And unless booked months in advance flights cost a pretty penny and get insanely expensive during holidays and vacation seasons. Exactly, those times when you are most likely to be able to visit.

12. When you finally meet again, you just pick up just where you’ve finished

When you are together again, it seems like those ugly weeks apart never existed. Like you finally pressed “Play” and started living your perfect life again. At least until it’s time to go back home.

13. Eventually, you develop this odd feeling of sureness

You will begin to consider that if you are not soul mates, why would both of you bother so much? Your relationship are definitely not about sex. Rather, you are like friends without benefits most of the time. You can talk over anything — hopes, fears, dreams, insecurities. Jealousy is just an empty word as you grow absolutely confident in your partner and yourself.

14. You know if you both see this through to the end, your relationship will survive anything

As a couple you will develop this invisible, bulletproof bond. It will carry you through all sort of arguments and life difficulties. After all, if you survive the long-distance thing, everything else from then on will seem easily manageable!

Featured photo credit: Hearth symbol in sunset via shutterstock.com

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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