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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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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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