Long Distance Relationships
Relationships, in general, are difficult. Nearly, one in two relationships ends in divorce.
If you intend to have a long distance relationship, they require additional effort to keep the spark between two people alive.
Experts state that 2.9% of marriages in the United States are considered long distance relationships.
Furthermore, one in 10 marriages has reported a period of long distance within the first three years.
Though these numbers are small, some attention should be given to those that try to keep the romance alive over many miles.
Suggestions for a successful relationship will be highlighted to help couples learn to communicate and interact with each other in ways that will nurture their relationship, rather than tear the relationship apart.
Before we offer suggestions, let us review some ingredients that are essential to a healthy long term relationship.
What You Need
Trust is essential to any relationship. The “trust” component is especially essential to a long distance relationship.
If the relationship is exclusive, you must trust that your partner is honoring his or her part of the relationship.
When your mind begins to wonder about whether or not your partner is being true to you, you may become accusatory and blame your partner without cause.
Lack of trust causes problems in the relationship.
Establish trust by keeping the lines of communication open.
Discuss your feelings, desires and inhibitions. Then develop a plan of actions to alleviate fears, fulfill certain desires and release inhibitions.
Learn to compromise in areas where one partner is uncomfortable about a request. When you always honor your word and express your feelings honestly, without being hurtful, trust is established.
Always be honest with your partner. Do not give them any reason to be suspicious of you cheating or being dishonest about your activities outside of your relationship. If you had dinner with a person of the opposite sex, then just admit to it and state your intentions.
Admission will build trust faster than trying to hide the truth. If you admit to your dinner, then your spouse or partner will not suspect that you have anything to hide.
In the case of same sex relationships, reassure your partner that you have not ventured outside of your pre-determined boundaries. Then always share the details of your life. The fewer details you leave out, the less likely your partner will become suspicious or jealous.
Sometimes you may have to tell your partner something you did that he or she may not like, but the lines of communication will be open to work on a resolution to the problem.
Communication is instrumental to a healthy relationship. There are so many ways to communicate with your partner these days that there is really no excuse for a relationship without communication.
Before the Internet age, couples in long distance relationships relied upon traditional “snail” mail and telephone to maintain relationships. Mail, however, was far too slow to maintain a solid relationship, and long distance phone bills were exorbitant.
Now, people can communicate long distance via a land line for $0.10 or less. Alternatively, couples can obtain an unlimited cell phone plan for as low as $35 per month domestically, in some instances. Couples can talk as long as they would like without fear of an exorbitant phone bill.
There is even an application called FaceTime on some mobile phones that will allow you to view your partner while having a conversation. Other Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phones will allow couples to talk to one another for negligible costs.
In some instances, couples can talk for free. Skype is a VOIP phone company that will allow couples to make domestic video calls Skype-to-Skype for free. Skype to mobile phone will incur a charge, however. This method of calling allows you to see your partner’s face while you are talking. Therefore, the interaction is more personal.
A simple text throughout the day will lift your partner’s spirits. Some phone companies allow unlimited phone texting. Emails, Instant messaging, Twitter messages or Facebook posts are all ways to keep the relationship alive. There are so many ways to communicate with your partner to make them feel special. The best part is that most forms of communication are low cost or free.
Schedule Some Face Time with Your Partner
Long distance relationships will not last if there is no face time at all. Couples must plan a trip periodically to see one another in person. As the relationship grows, the couple will have to make decisions about whether or not they would like to take the relationship to the next level.
Couples may decide to move to the same area or even move in with one another to save money. Living together is often the stage before a more permanent relationship is established.
Moving closer to one another may alleviate the yearning that you have in your heart for the person. Incorporate more physical interaction to keep the relationship growing strong.
Depending upon your finances, long distance relationships can be costly. Be mindful of the costs incurred in a long distance relationship. Some couples may spend the majority of their discretionary funds on travel to visit the one that they love. Therefore, when you are together, cherish these moments and make each moment special.
Make small things for one another if you cannot afford something large. Bake cookies or make a coupon book with redeemable massages. These are small ways that you can make your partner feel special without spending a fortune.
Additionally, you may split the travel expenses or relationship expenses, so that it is more equitable. Perhaps you share a phone plan together so that you can lower your expenses. Alternatively, you may split the cost of the plane ticket for you to travel to his or her location. Help each other, so that you do not feel like you are the main one bearing the expense of the relationship, if you cannot afford it.
These are the five essential ingredients to a healthy and loving relationship. Once you are aware of the five essential ingredients, you can then apply them when you interact with your partner. Each suggestion we provide for creating a healthy long distance relationship will incorporate one or more of these essential ingredients. Keep reading to learn how to keep the spark alive in your long distance relationship.
Suggestions to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work
Make a Love Contract with the Parameters of Your Relationship Highlighted
Not everyone will have the same relationship. Some people want their relationships to be exclusive. Others want their relationships to open.
Open relationships allow couples to have external relationships with people that both partners agree upon. Some couples find that open relationships work for long distance. However, this is not preferable for all people.
There is no one way to have a relationship. As long as both partners agree with the terms of the relationship, the relationship will thrive. If one person is unhappy with the agreement, problems may arise. Clearly define the boundaries of the relationship to avoid problems.
To define the relationship, you may answer the following questions: “Are we dating?,” “Is the relationship exclusive?,” “Are we allowed to date other people?” “Are you open to moving closer to me in the future if we decide we are serious?”or “Why would you like to have a relationship with me?” These are just a few of the questions that may be answered in your love contract. This removes all ambiguity and helps partners develop relationships on trust and honesty.
Communicate with One Another Daily
Whether you call, text message, video call, email or Instant message, communicate with each other every day. It is important to be a part of each other’s lives every single day. Inform each other about your day or have a long distance date.
There are numerous date ideas that will be mentioned later. Incorporate some of these ideas into your daily conversations to break up the monotony of discussing daily activities. Communication is instrumental to a healthy relationship.
Plan a Long Distance Date
Watch Netflix Simultaneously Together. There are several Internet television companies that allow couples to watch television together and comment about the show in real-time via chat or via the phone. Netflix is a low cost movie rental company that will allow you to rent movies online or to receive DVDs in the mail.
Couples enjoy watching the shows together and bonding from a common experience. Try a Netflix movie night as a long distance date.
Play 1000 Questions for Couples. Couples enjoy learning more about each other. This particular game can help the relationship grow stronger. The questions are pre-set, so you do not have to worry about leading the conversation.
The categories may be about the following: Travel Destinations, Past and Future, Pets, Money, Friends or Sex. As the questions are answered, you will learn more about your partner. You may even have the courage to ask him or her questions that you were afraid to ask.
In these economic times, it is difficult to determine how anyone could think about sending flowers. Most people are considering practical gifts. However, flowers are beautiful, romantic and appreciated by the recipient. They are proven to brighten the recipient’s day through aromatherapy. The sheer color of the flowers evokes positive emotions.
Send flowers and experience the gratitude of your partner. If, however, your partner is cash-deficient, you may want to consider something more practical. Although, flowers create romantic feelings that a practical gift cannot.
Create a Collage of Memorable Moments from Your Relationship
Both partners can create a collage of memorable moments from your relationship. The photos may be obtained by sharing on Facebook or another means. A collage will help your partner remember you fondly when you are away.
Collages evoke memories and couples remember how their relationship began. In long distance relationships, you need constant reminders of each other to keep the relationship alive. Online websites help facilitate the scrapbooking experience. , Webshots.com, Flickr.com and Rollip.com are just a few companies that will help couples build an online collage of photos to share.
Do an Online Journal of Your Relationship Together
Couples can keep an online journal through sites like LiveJournal.com and Xanga.com. You can each record the milestones in your relationship and your personal lives together. Through a journal, your partner is always aware of your feelings about the relationship and your feelings about life’s events.
Journals will help you recognize your strong points and weak points in the relationship. When you are physically together, you will know how to treat each other better. Through journals, couples in long distance relationships may actually learn more about one another and build a stronger foundation than couples in traditional relationships.
Send eCards Often
Let the other person know that you are thinking of them. Send an eCard to make your partner laugh or send an eCard that is romantic. eCards make a person feel special and wanted. eCards are often a pleasant surprise during a mundane day.
Have a Karaoke Night Together
An online Karaoke bar allows couples to sing karaoke songs and share them together. Couples may even sing duets together as long as a webcam and a microphone are present. SingSnap.com is a lot of fun for couple. Couples bond as they sing the songs together and laugh about their singing skills or lack thereof.
Read a Book Together
eBooks are abundant on the web. With the new books, couples are finding it romantic to cuddle together and read a book. You may also read a book simultaneously over the Internet and make comments about the book. This will help the two people engage in intellectual dialogue together. Growing together intellectually is as important as growing together physically and spiritually.
Engage in Some X-Rated Banter
A site called HoochyMail is a MadLib style site that allows couples to make up a fictitious story from fill-in-the-blank prose. The story level may be: Sexy, X-Rated or Off-The-Wall. After the story is generated, couples can laugh about the creation that they generated together.
====Listen to Music Together==== Listen to music together and chat about your favorite songs or artists. This date would be akin to listening to music together while driving to the movies. You can even make your own radio station together at Blip.fm. The date will then be personalized to your personal preferences.
Create a Virtual Wedding
If you and your partner are getting serious, plan a virtual wedding to determine how it makes the both of you feel. Go through the entire process of proposing, filling out the marriage certificate and having the wedding. You can also create guests lists, invite them with wedding invitations and create wedding videos. At the end of the date, you can even virtually divorce.
Send Fun Coupons
GiveCoupons.com is a special website that allows couples to select coupons to give to their significant other. The coupons are already pre-made and you simply have to fill them in. Redeem the coupons the next time you see each other. The coupons may consist of massages, free dates, free room cleaning or free kisses.
Send a Date-In-A-Box
This is a really great idea. Partners are challenged to fill the box with everything your partner will need for a date. The box could include a DVD, candy, popcorn or a restaurant gift card. Furthermore, your date may deliver food from your favorite restaurant to your home. Some couples send bottles of wine, candles, a CD with the music to set the mood for the date or a recipe that you can make with your partner separately.
Quiz Each Other about What You Have Learned about Each Other
MakeAQuiz.net allows you to develop quizzes to learn more about each other. Then, exchange the quizzes. The person who scores the highest gets a prize from the other person. Quizzes are an excellent way to determine if your partner has been paying attention.
Make Your Message Into a Song
“Let Them Sing It For You” allows couples to make a personalized song for their partner. Simply type your message into the box. The software will convert the message into a song that will be sung by an actual artist. If you know your partner’s favorite artist you can allow them to sing the message.
Make Cookies and Send Them Overnight
Make cookies for your partner. Several five-star recipes are available online. Send them to your partner, and they will feel comforted by your thoughtfulness.
A Mizpah charm will describe the emotional bond between two people. The charm is a circle that is separated in the middle and each person receives a half to remind them of their bond together. The charms are affordable. Some start as low as $7.95.
Send Your Significant Other a Hip-Hop Gram
This software allows you to actually put the name of your partner in the song for free and send it to them. The software is free.
Convert Your Image into a Funny Caricature
ZingFu will allow you to turn your photographs of your significant other into a funny picture. Simply upload your photo, watch the transformation and laugh. You can add the finish product to your photo collage as a reminder.
See What Your Babies Will Look Like Together
MorphThing.com allows you to morph your images together to determine what your babies would look like. It is another fun idea that is similar to the virtual wedding idea.
You can also adopt a virtual baby to take care of together. This will help you determine what your partner’s parenting styles prior to actually having a baby together. Cyberinfants.com helps couples try their hand at parenthood before the actual event.
Take a Virtual Vacation Together
Talk about and plan a vacation to some place you always wanted to go. Use 360Cities.net to get 360 degree panoramic pictures of the areas you would like to visit. From this tool, you can see street scenes, museums, neighborhoods, bars, hotels, restaurants and so much more. GoogleMaps and EarthAlbum.com are also other helpful tools in virtual vacation planning.
Email a Time Capsule to Your Partner
Create a time capsule on FutureMe.org together. Tell your partner something that you would like him or her to remember 30 years from now. Describe your current relationship problem to determine if you have the same problem in your relationship 30 years from today. This will help you see the progression of your relationship.
Create a Font in Your Own Handwriting
Create a font in your own handwriting. Then type all your messages in your own font. This tool makes your messages more personal. YourFonts.com will assist you with creating the font.
Interactive games help people build bonds. Share a screen together by using technology like Twiddla.com. This will allow you to doodle and write love notes to one another interactively in real time.
Send a Letter of Apology or Remorse
If you mess up, say you are sorry. There is nothing more sincere than a formal letter of apology to let your partner know that you made a mistake and you want to formally apologize for your mistake. Sample letters may be found on the BureauofCommunication.com.
Focus on the Benefits of a Long Distance Relationship
Many people do not recognize how little people actually know about each other before they engage in physical interaction with them. A long distance relationship forces you to get to know the person before physical interaction. Many people prefer long distance relationships, because the relationship cannot be based on intimacy alone.
The other major benefit of long distance relationships is that you do not allow arguments about petty household chores interfere with your relationship.
While living together, you may argue about the toilet seat, the toothpaste caps or the cleanliness level of your partner. With long distance relationships, you only have to be concerned about these types of issues during physical visits.
Believe it or not, email allows couples the chance to read over what they might say to their significant other before they send it. Many times, a partner may writes something hurtful and then, reword it in a way that is more reasonable. This practice helps couples avoid hurting their partner unnecessarily. Long distance relationships are also great for people that are afraid of commitment and need to maintain their identities.
Long Distance Relationships Help You Resist the Urge to Be Controlling
In relationships, control is not a desirable attribute. Some partners try to control every aspect of their mate’s life. Long distance relationships make controlling each other’s lives difficult. If you want to maintain your identity and still have a relationship, long distance may be a good choice for you.
Keep in mind that most people control when the trust is compromised. Trust is essential in every relationship. Maintain open and honest communication and the trust will be maintained. Controlling behaviors will also disappear.
Discover the interests you share in common. Then, share those interests together, while you are apart. If you are movie buffs, watch movies together.
If you enjoy the stars, watch the stars together and point them out. If you enjoy the sunset and you are on the same coast, watch the sun set together. If you both like sports, watch a game together. Each of these activities can be performed separately, but together.
You could also go to a restaurant separately and talk discreetly on the phone while having dinner together. Whatever your common interests are, nurture your interests together. Common interests brought you together, and therefore, you must maintain those interests to grow closer to one another.
Challenge Each Other
Take a class online together. Encourage each other to exercise more or to cook more often. Help each other in your given professions. Encourage your partner towards a promotion. Challenge each other to travel to a certain place or achieve a lifelong goal.
Always become your partner’s biggest fan or biggest cheerleader. Try to support him or her in whatever they do. Do not discourage your partner. Embrace their interests and challenge each other to become better at whatever they do.
Plan a Vacation Together
Since long distance relationships require travel, why not meet some place for a weekend that you have wanted to visit? This will allow you to play together without the stresses of either of your homes. Of course, you both would have to be at the stage in your relationship where you are comfortable sharing a hotel room together. You may reserve your rooms separately, but this would increase your expenses.
Perhaps you both love to hike. Plan a trip to a National Park or to a tropical location such as Hawaii. Hawaii has number hiking trails that lead to waterfalls. The Grand Canyon is also known for its waterfalls as well. These types of dates are for people that love adventure and romance. Visiting waterfalls in a tropical location or in a natural setting is a romantic date idea.
Visit Each Other Often
Visit with each other physically as often as you can. This is the only way to verify the relationship will work between the two of you. Cherish the times that you physically spend together. Always plan one special event when you visit with one another.
Then, you can remember the event fondly and reminisce about the good times. Memorable moments will keep the longing in your heart for each other.
Give Your Partner a Keepsake
A personal object of yours or a small keepsake will help you remember your loved one when they are away. A favorite jersey to sleep in at night or a locket with a picture may give your partner comfort when separation anxiety sets in.
Some experts say that shirt scented with cologne or perfume can make you feel closer to your partner when he or she is away. Even something previously worn will provide feelings of comfort.
Some partners that are more financially stable may give a promise ring, diamond necklace or diamond earrings. The last three items are not very comforting when you miss someone, but they will help you remember your commitment to the person.
Work on the Relationship Mutually
Long distance relationships require work. For the relationship to work, one partner cannot plan all of the dates or activities in the relationship. The relationship requires a strong foundation from both partners to feel secure. Work together and put forth the effort necessary to plan dates and surprises for one another.
Even if one person is richer than the other, the financially deficient partner can bake cookies or give a massage for the other partner.
Always Be Available for Your Partner
Long distance relationships are difficult. Add a crisis, and your relationship will be put to a real test. When you have a bad day or crisis, you need your partner to be there for you.
People tend to stray during emotional crisis, when their partner does not have time to listen. Always make time for your partner, even if it is simply to set up another time to talk about the situation.
Before you schedule another time, assess the situation to ensure that it is not urgent. There is nothing worse than being in impending danger or other crisis and you partner “pencils you in” for a later time. If your partner deals with most of their major milestones alone or with another person, then your relationship will become irrelevant.
The communication tools are already in place for a solid relationship. A quick 15 minute chat session, phone call or Facebook email will help you deal with any problems that you or your partner may be having. Long distance communication tools provide daily practice. When a crisis arises, the foundation is in place to have a quick conversation through instant messaging, Facebook, email or Skype conversation.
Planning for Emergencies
Think of what you might try to do for your partner in a crisis if he or she is in the same state with you. Then, modify the solution for your long distance relationship. Give your partner the same attention that you would give them if you could get in the car and drive to them.
For instance, if you would give a massage to relieve stress, schedule an appointment for a massage in their area. Do whatever you can, within your budget, to make the person feel special. Otherwise, you may wake up one day to find that your relationship is severed because your partner was feeling neglected.
Intimacy is an Important Part of the Relationship
Intimacy is a major portion of the relationship. Intimate acts are virtually impossible when you are miles away from your partner. Therefore, you should do things to prepare for your time together. If you are scheduled to have a weekend with your significant other, make sure you have no interruptions from your friends and family, unless it is pre-planned.
Do not hastily rush to intimacy. Practice some romantic gestures like massages, long embraces and soft gentle kisses. Cuddle each other as much as possible before engaging in intimate acts. Draw a long candlelit bath with essential oils, rose petals and aromatherapy for additional romance. Therefore, you will gradually enjoy your moment with your significant other, and the moment will feel special.
If you are not able to be with your significant other, some experts recommend engaging in intimate talks via phone or chat. Some partners also feel comfortable revealing parts of their body via webcam and others do not. Some partners may engage in mutual self-gratification.
Each couple must set their boundaries and comfort level. Agree upon what you are comfortable doing with your partner. Then, attempt to please one another and keep each other interested.
Intimate acts over the phone or webcam builds tension. When the couple actually engages in the physical act, the experience is more intense. The longing for one another increases and desire in the relationship grows stronger.
Many therapists recommend long distance intimacy to couples that are having difficulty with arousal. As the longing for one another grows, the couple will eventually desire to be closer to one another physically. The relationship will become serious. The couple may even move in together or at least move to the same area.
Honor Your Commitments
Whatever you say you are going to do for your partner, ensure that you do it. If you promise to talk with them at a certain time, make every effort to make the call at the agreed upon time. If you are going to visit a certain weekend, then ensure that you arrive according to schedule. When you do not honor your commitment, this creates suspicion and diminishes trust. Do not make promises you cannot keep.
For instance, a partner may become so enthralled with their significant other that he or she will say anything to keep him or her in the relationship. Do not make promises to buy the person an extravagant gift such as a car or a diamond ring, if you are not going to honor your commitments. The person may think the relationship is progressing to the next level; when in fact, it may just be a ploy for sex or a longing for a rebound relationship.
Partners that make empty promises will find themselves alone eventually. Alternatively, they may find themselves in a number of disingenuous relationships that have very little meaning. If you are seeking a serious relationship with someone and you truly care about them, make every effort to be with them and talk to them as much as possible. This will help the couple develop a strong bond.
Remain Positive in the Relationship
When times are difficult, it is easy to become negative about the situation. Often negativity makes us feel better. However, try to remain positive despite the situation that you are faced with. This will prevent needless arguments between you and your partner over issues that could have been avoided.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Acknowledge those times when you are longing for your partner. Do not deny that you miss your partner and that you desire to be near them. Tell your partner that you miss him or her and would like to be near him or her.
Express what you miss about the person and tell them how you feel since they are not physically in reach. If you do not have an open relationship, talk about your feelings to prevent your partner from cheating with someone else. Your partner may engage in physical intimacy with someone else when he or she truly misses you.
If you truly love the person, cheating with someone else will feel empty and meaningless. Partners will have difficultly to engaging in the act with someone else, without feeling guilty, if the love is strong. There are some instances where a partner can love their significant other intensely and still engage in intimacy with someone else.
This occurs, most often, when a partner is physically not able to engage in sexual activity with their significant other. In this case, sex may be simply about the act and not the emotion.
Be Patient with Your Partner in Trying Times
Patience is another essential component of a relationship. Patience is required in a long distance relationship. When you are not able to physically see your partner daily, then your mind tends to wonder more. Be patient with your partner if they become suspicious without cause. Sometimes it is difficult to trust initially. Over time, the trust will develop.
Know How to Diffuse Arguments
An argument is inevitable in a long distance relationship. However, you should make every attempt to diffuse the argument if at all possible. Use humor to diffuse arguments as long as it does not offend and make your partner angrier. Be diplomatic, rather than argumentative.
Talk calmly to your partner and listen to their argument even when it is hurtful. Then, state your case when your partner is done. Rather than arguing, ask your partner to help you devise a solution to problem. This will keep you from irreparably harming your relationship.
Apologize When You Make a Mistake
When you make a mistake, acknowledge that you made a mistake and then, apologize. Be genuine in your apology. If the mistake was particularly huge, do something to let the person know that you are genuinely sorry.
Send a formal apology by mail or send flowers. Take your significant other someplace special like a five star restaurant or vacation if you make a mistake. If you are financially stable, you can even ”pull a Kobe Bryant” and buy an apology ring, house or car.
Whatever you do to say you are sorry make sure that the apology is genuine and heartfelt. If the apology is perfunctory, then your significant other will notice and probably begin to lose interest in the relationship. Since it is much easier to find another person when the relationship is long distance, you can expect that if you do not find a good way to apologize he or she will find someone else.
Even if he or she does not find someone immediately, your significant other may wake up and decide that being alone is preferable to someone that does not care enough to apologize.
Nurture Your Relationship
In all things, listen to each other and nurture your relationship. Always try to be understanding and recognize that a long distance relationship requires sacrifice. You may not be able to visit with your partner daily or after a long day at work. But you can engage in an activity with them after work to help build the bond between the two of you.
If you are feeling discouraged, just tell your partner how you feel. Then, devise a plan to make things different. If your partner is unwilling to compromise, then you may not be with your true “soul mate” and it may be time to move on.
However, consider also the request you are making. If the request is completely outside of the scope of your partner’s current lifestyle, then the person may not immediately agree. If you love the person, you will either work with them gradually to change or you may drop your request entirely. If you cannot live without whatever you are requesting and your partner will not comply, then perhaps you are not perfectly matched. You may be better off finding someone that shares that common interest.
One benefit of long distance relationships is that they allow both partners to focus on their work when they are away from each other. When you are together, you can focus on the relationship. This helps you maintain your identity and enjoy the comfort that a relationship provides.