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How To Survive A Long-Distance Relationship

How To Survive A Long-Distance Relationship

What comes to mind when you think about surviving a long-distance relationship? Do you experience negative or positive emotions? Whether you have been in a long-distance relationship for a while, or recently started a long-distance relationship, it’s important for the both of you to be on the same page.

Being in a long-distance relationship is a challenge, but definitely worthwhile if you are committed to developing your relationship. A long-distance relationship can either bring the two of you closer together, or pull you further apart. I want to share with you the top 5 precedents that my husband and I used while we were in a long-distance relationship. I highly suggest that you share this article with your partner. There will be a “Take Action” exercise at the end of each precedent that I encourage the both of you to implement. This article is not really about just “surviving” a long-distance relationship, it’s about developing and growing your long-distance relationship.

Precedent #1: Be Committed

When you are in a long-distance relationship, it’s important for the both of you to know that you are equally committed to developing the relationship. Why bother being in a long-distance relationship when one or both of you are not committed? You might as well just have it be a fling and then find someone locally. So, the first precedent to surviving a long-distance relationship is to both be committed to maintaining and developing your relationship.

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Take Action: Spend some quality time talking with your partner about the commitment that you have in the relationship. It’s important that the both of you are on the same page when it comes to investing your time and energy into it. It’s all about effective communication and knowing that you are just as committed as your partner. Simply ask your partner, “Are you committed to developing our relationship?” The sooner you’re able to be on the same page, the sooner you’ll know if this relationship is worth your time and energy. Wouldn’t you rather know where your partner is at now instead of investing so much and possibly finding out later that they’re not as committed as you thought? Be open and make sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to the level of commitment in the relationship.

Precedent #2:  Write it down

Surviving a long-distance relationship is definitely a challenge, but when you know what your partner plans on doing in developing your relationship, you will feel much more secure. It’s important for you and your partner to write down on a piece of paper the commitments that both of you plan on living out every single day in developing your relationship. My husband and I did this while we were in a long-distance relationship and eventually used these commitments for our vows on our wedding day. I’m not saying write down your future wedding vows, I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know the power of writing down your commitments to each other.

Take Action: Use whatever kind of communication that the two of you have and take the time to write down your commitments to each other. I would suggest using either Skype or FaceTime when doing this exercise. It would be best to actually see your partner. Start off by writing, “My commitment to (your partner’s name)…” Then start writing down the commitments that you plan on following through with every single day. Some examples may be sending your partner a text message during your lunch break or calling your partner after you get home from work. You decide the commitments you plan on doing for your partner. Take some time to write down the commitments that you have for your partner and vice versa. Once you’ve finished writing them down, say them out loud to your partner. Once you’ve shared your commitments, make a copy of them and send the original to your partner and have them send their original to you. This way, your partner will have your commitments to them, and you will have their commitments to you. Have these commitments in a place where you see them daily. This will really help in staying connected with your partner.

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Precedent #3: Take the time to visit

You may have a busy schedule with work, but when you are committed to developing your relationship, you will take the time to visit your partner. You may have to do some planning around your schedule, but when you make the effort to visit, your partner not only feels important but you are able to physically spend quality time together to develop your connection. And when you do visit your partner, make sure it’s quality time. It’s all about planning. When you visit your partner, spend time focusing on loving them. If you can help it, don’t be on any business phone calls or dealing with work while you’re there. The secret to taking the time to visit your partner is to spend 100% quality time with them.

Take Action: Take a look at your schedule and plan on visiting your partner. Depending upon the distance, you may have to save up some money before visiting. But when you’re able to plan ahead and save as much money as you need, you’re showing your partner that you care and that you want to develop the relationship. When you continue to make excuses and don’t take the time to visit your partner, that’s a clear indication that you’re not committed to developing your relationship. You may want to add how many times you want to visit in your commitments to your partner.

Precedent #4: Think long-term

This goes back to precedent #1 of being committed. With commitment, you will need to also think long-term. Where do you see this relationship going in the long run? You will need to take some time to reflect on why you’re in this relationship? Some of us end up being in a relationship because we’re lonely or just want to say that we’re with someone. Make sure you are in your relationship for the right reasons.

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Take Action: What does the future look like with your current relationship? Do you see yourself being with this person for the long run? If you’re unsure, why? What are the key issues that need to be discussed with your partner? I want you to take the time to communicate these questions with your partner. Remember how I’ve shared with your the importance of being on the same page? Well, it’s important to be on the same page when it comes to long-term commitment. If you or your partner are experiencing certain issues like lack of trust or jealousy, it’s important for you to have an open discussion about these issues. If you feel stuck, I would suggest that the both of you seek counseling. It’s always helpful when you can have a third person who can look at your relationship without any attachments or emotions involved.

Precedent # 5: Be Real

When it comes to surviving a long-distance relationship and growing the connection with your partner, you need to always be real. It’s important to know who you are and express the real essence of you to your partner. We all know that during the beginning stages of dating, we experience that “Cloud Nine” feeling where we see our partner as being perfect. But we all have imperfections and eventually these will come out. There is nothing wrong with having imperfections, we’re only human. Make sure that you share with your partner all aspects of you, not just the good ones. Don’t play any games! This is a big NO-NO when it comes to being in a relationship. Being real and not playing any games will help you and your partner truly get to know each other. How can you possibly get to know your partner when they are playing games and not being their real selves?

Take Action: Take some time to reflect upon who you are. Are you staying true to yourself? Are you expressing the real you or are you playing games and putting up a façade just so your partner likes you? It’s important for you to ask these questions because this is an important aspect of building the foundation in your relationship.

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These are the top precedents that my husband and I set in our relationship from the very beginning and still use today. When you’re able to set good precedents in your relationship, you are building a solid foundation. When you don’t have any precedents in your relationship, the foundation is weak and will fall apart. Surviving a long-distance relationship is all about creating and maintaining a solid foundation!

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Tiffany Mason

Tiffany is a life coach empowering women to unleash their feminine essence & design a meaningful life & marriage.

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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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