Being separated for an extended period from someone you love can be difficult, so it’s only natural to have some concerns and even fears if you’re considering or currently in a long-distance relationship.
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But plenty of people manage LDRs (Long Distance Relationships) successfully, according to Dr. Susan Phillips for PBS, under all kinds of circumstances, from separation caused by work or finances to military deployment.
While there’s no one surefire secret method for making a long distance relationship work, here are some little things you can do to keep your home fires burning.
1. Have Guilt-Free “Me” Time
Not only is there no point to sitting home alone and missing your partner, it’s actually not good for the relationship in general. Having a life of your own instead of one that revolves only around your partner encourages independence, and that is usually more satisfying on a personal level.
Plan your time well when you’re away from your partner. Enjoy a quiet night at home when you feel like it, but also schedule time with friends, family and just for doing things you like.
Research and try new hobbies or activities in which you’re interested. Don’t feel guilty for having a good time on your own! A good partner will want you to be happy as often as you can be, and you may even discover new things for the two of you to do together during visits.
2. Don’t Sweat The Little Things
When you live with someone on a day-to-day basis, the occasional annoyance or spat over the toilet seat being left up or the garbage not being taken out is totally normal. But when you’re spending more time without your partner than with, you have to ask yourself, “Is this worth quibbling over?”
Let your partner’s quirks or minor bad habits go when you’re spending time together. Take a breath and count to 10 before saying anything about a minor irritant to determine whether it’s worth wasting your time on.
Encourage him or her to do the same by explaining your reasoning. You’ll both feel better and more satisfied when you’re together if you don’t let life’s little annoyances get in the way!
3. Say What You Feel
Affirmation of feelings is a solid and good habit in any LDR. Since you’re not physically around your partner enough to affirm feelings consistently with little gestures like traditional couples do, you need to let your words do the work.
A 2013 study by the International Communication Association actually found that LDR couples who communicated affection and intimacy to each other developed stronger bonds as a result.
Tell your partner what he means to you, what you love about him, that you miss him… whatever it is you are feeling and want him to know. Do this during your weekly phone call or social media chat so that it becomes second nature.
Use words and gestures you can manage despite the geographical distance, such as sending a small surprise gift to reaffirm your commitment to each other and grow your relationship.
4. Plan For The Future
With an LDR, planning is a necessity. Having goals, rules and boundaries fosters trust and makes the best use out of the time you have available for each other.
Talk about the future with your partner. Establish end dates, such as how long you’ve live apart or the maximum time between visits. Set rules about communication, including frequency, times and methods. Texting, for instance, is great for little things, but you may want to hear each other’s voices or see each other’s faces at least once a week.
Above all, keep communication open and an upbeat attitude about your LDR. With positive thinking and honesty, your relationship can easily go to the next level.