My girlfriend is out of town for a few days, which has me thinking about all of the relationships out there that do not have the luxury of being in the same zip code at any given time. In the US, there are an estimated 14 million long distance relationships, 40% of which will likely end in a break up.
There is a string of commercials by Jeep that have been going around for a while, and one of them really hits the point that long distance relationships are hard to manage. It’s a powerful message, and it’s just emotional enough that I’m sure that it’s sold a few SUVs.
Long distance relationships can work, but that distance needs to be something that is navigable. What is “too far away” or “too long” for one couple might be a short trip down the road to another. So how does one manage the distance without quitting their job and driving 300 miles to crash on their girlfriends couch?
Long Distance Needs a Purpose
Being apart does not need to be the end of a good relationship. If you have a solid connection, you can manage being apart for a given amount of time. A 3 month internship in New York City, or spending a year abroad are not necessarily cause to drop everything and follow your partner. Nor do they need to be the reason you break up.
If you know when you and your partner will be reunited, you can make the distance work for you. You can take the opportunity to work on your own identity, and can even identify issues in the relationship that you may not have noticed if you were together all the time. Make the distance work for you, or else it will work against you; and not always in the ways you would expect.
Long Distance Can Hide Problems
Just like distance can highlight issues you might be having, it can also hide them. One of the ways that long distance relationships can hide problems is that they can get stuck in a cycle of “this needs to be discussed in person” and “I don’t want to ruin the time we have together by bringing this up.” Allowing this cycle to persist can cause what could have been an easy discussion to turn into a much bigger problem.
Staying Emotionally Close in a Long Distance Relationship
How you handle being geographically separated is a matter for you and your partner to discuss, but it may be helpful to consider some guidelines.
- How long are you going to be separated? This is an important piece of information to share. Generally, if a temporary move is imposed (such as by an employer), a time frame will be given. If it is permanent, than that needs to be known too. Communication is kind of important in relationships, after all.
- Communicate openly. As I mentioned earlier, it is really easy to fall into a cycle of wanting to wait until you and your partner are face to face to talk about difficult subjects, only to continue avoiding out of a desire to enjoy your precious time together. How issues get discussed will vary from relationship to relationship; what matters is that discussion happen.
- Know where you stand. When you don’t have constant connection, it can be easy to lose sight of the goals of the relationship. Figure out the ground rules for your relationship before the distance becomes an issue.
- Make intimacy a priority. I’m not just talking about sex here; intimacy is that sense of connection. As technology continues to develop, more and more tools are at your disposal to ensure that you and your partner can maintain a strong connection with one another. This is sort of the flip side of what I talked about before, because technology is capable of either bringing you together or tearing you apart. Use it wisely, and it can make the distance between you and your sweetheart merely miserable, as opposed to intolerable.
What are your thoughts? Are you in a long distance relationship? How do you maintain a strong sense of connection despite the distance? I would love to hear about it in the comments! Share this article if you found it helpful!