Wellness Wednesday: Tips for a Stronger Long-Distance Relationship (LDR)
by Nicole Feehan
“I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more…” But what are we walking for?
Photo: “long-distance;” by Eileen. Flickr, Creative Commons.
It’s a question that crosses a lot of minds when we hear “long distance relationship,” as though the sacrifice is too much. For some people, that may be true, but for others LDRs aren’t that much of a sacrifice.
People in LDRs can still have a relationship with their partners. We still hear about their long days at work, their awkward conversations with their parents, their bad jokes… The intimacy and the romance is still there, it’s just a little more spread out or creatively communicated.
The distance can be good for both partners, as it gives us some room to be with ourselves. This could mean sorting out our own emotions or stress, or working on our careers, but the point is that we have the space to do it.
And if we do reunite with our partners, it’s always a treat. It’s like a mini-vacation from our day-to-day lives with someone we truly enjoy at the other end. That weekend may even be the motivation you need to get through an especially hard workweek or paper.
Perhaps the most important thing, though, is that our LDRs make us feel good. Even with the distance, our partners make us happy and bring joy to our lives. They can support us through a rough patch, and we can brag about them to our friends. The distance doesn’t seem to matter so much when we’re still being fulfilled.
Some of us may know exactly what we love about our LDRs, while others may be struggling to determine if it’s actually worth the stress. All relationships can be stressful at certain points, but distance can further complicate things.
For example, while maintaining an LDR, both partners may be faced with the increased financial burden to maintain their relationships. This doesn’t stop at paying for a plane ticket or gas, it includes taking time off of work – time which you otherwise would have gotten paid for.
Partners in LDRs can also have a hard time maintaining close friendships. This could be the result of not being able to partake in “couple activities”, or even dealing with the lack of free time to develop those relationships so you can contribute to your romantic one.
And finally, what are we? It can be difficult to assess the state of a relationship when the two partners are separated by distance. How do we know our roles in the relationship when we’re living week-to-week, or month-to-month? Partners in LDRs tend to set such high expectations for their time together that the roles can be unclear for time that is spent apart.
All of this added stress could make a person wonder: Why are we doing this?
It’s an important question. Why are you doing this? What do you enjoy about this relationship? It’s important for both partners to know why you are in a LDR, to clarify the logistics of the situation, the timeline, your feelings, and your expectations.
When partners feel as though they are out of sync, it can be easy to lose focus and to develop feelings of blame, resentment, or even personal guilt. These are feelings that can come up again and again.
So, you’ve decided you love being in your LDR, and you want to keep it going strong. Here are some relationship-maintaining strategies that others have used keep their LDRs healthy:
Positivity. An optimistic attitude about your relationship is invaluable to ensuring the security of your relationship. Always look for the best in your partner. Relationships can really suffer if we start searching for the other person’s flaws.
Assurance. It’s normal to have doubts every now and then about your relationship, but communicating your commitment and support frequently and verbally can really help both you and your partner to feel confident in the status of your relationship.
Openness. Let your partner know how you feel—don’t expect them to guess what’s going on with you. It will save you a lot of time and a lot of pain to be open and honest, even if that means spending your only two days together fighting.
Fight fair. Speaking of fighting, remember that while arguments inevitably happen in relationships, it’s important to fight fair. Listen, be gentle, and be kind. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt — or if nothing else, at least a chance to explain what they think.
Sharing tasks. Support one another through bad days, and look forward to future plans. Check in with one another throughout the day. Something as simple as sending a text and saying “thinking about you, hoping your day is good” can go a long way in helping us to feel confident in our relationships.
Share social networks. Talk to your partner about your friends and talk to your friends about your partner. By integrating the different areas of your life, you are likely to feel more comfortable with the relationship and the role it plays in your day-to-day routine.
Intimacy. Each couple does intimacy differently. Find what works for you and your partner and enjoy it! (Note: Sometimes our access to technology can do more harm than good.)
It may be difficult to implement all these strategies, especially right off the bat, so it’s important to remember that it takes time. Dealing with the stress of a LDR can be frustrating, but if we know why we’re doing it, it all becomes a little more manageable.
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Wellness Wednesday blog posts are written by Student Wellness or Campus Health Services staff members. Visit healthyheels.org for the original post.