Aleeza Ben Shalom
Deepening A Long-Distance Relationship
Long-distance relationships have their ups and downs. Your heart may be happy but your day-to-day relationship can be challenging. Here are some ideas to keep stress and anxiety at bay and to help you move your relationship forward.
The delicate travel balance. How often do you pack up and how long do you stay? Of course there are many factors, like how much time you can get off from work and what kind of travel budget you have. All things being equal, it would be ideal to see each other every 3 weeks for 2-4 days at a time. With budget concerns, work schedules and intercontinental dating, every 3 weeks may not work. Try not to let more than 6 weeks go by without a meeting in person. Although video chat has advanced our dating, when you’re marriage-minded it’s vital to date someone in person, as a relationship can change drastically once you spend time together.
Managing visit expectations. My clients often tell me they feel extra pressure to make something special happen since so much time has passed since the last in-person meeting. Acknowledge your desire to make the visit meaningful, and also realize that things won’t go perfectly. All relationships have ups and downs, and although it’s no fun, it’s likely that at least one visit together will fall during one of those down moments.
The best preparation is mental preparation. Get your mind set to be present during your visit. Don’t let your past hurt or future worry be at the front of your mind. Try to enjoy just being together, whether you go out on the town or have a cozy date night just hanging out at home together.
Talk about expectations and fears. Some of us try so hard not to say what’s on our mind to avoid conflict, while some of us have a need to talk about things up front and be straightforward. Try to gauge when it’s the right time to talk about the stress of long-distance dating, as well as your expectations and your fears. Make sure you both know that expectations and fears are a normal part of all relationships – long-distance or not. Make a safe place for the other person to express what is on their mind. Provide comfort, and then go back to enjoying your relationship. Don’t dwell on your expectations or fears, as they are often related to your past or your future and are not rooted in the present moment.
How well do I know you? If you started your relationship at a distance, before thinking of getting engaged it’s a good idea for you to have time with their family and friends. People act differently when they are around others. Seeing someone in different contexts is important before taking the next step.
Calming insecurity. We all have insecurities about relationships and they often become even more pronounced with distance. For example, if you sometimes feel lonely or disconnected in a relationship, those feelings are usually much stronger and can last longer in a long-distance relationship. And that can leave you wondering if the relationship is real, or all a figment of your imagination.
These feelings are common. If you know these feelings are your own insecurity, you can try positive affirmations and reframing how you view yourself. If you’re not sure, you should discuss your feelings with your partner, and see if together you can find ways to make you feel better. Also know when it’s time to get help from a professional to guide you through the process of calming yourself.
Managing family and friends. Well-meaning family and friends often ask questions and try to guide you in your relationship, and can be even more involved when it’s long-distance. Before anyone has the opportunity to put you on the spot, think about who you want to speak to about your relationship and what you want to say. Seek advice from those you trust. For everyone else, remember that just because someone asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer. Long distance relationships are more fragile. Guard your relationship and give it the appropriate privacy so it can flourish.
Quelling cold feet. While the old adage is absence makes the heart grow fonder, the reality is that absence can also create distance, and distance can lead to cold feet. Dating at a distance is an investment. Both sides have to be willing to put in a big effort to build the relationship. Give yourself extra time to allow the relationship to develop, and try to use a little extra patience during conflicts.
Have fun. You may feel like your in-person time has to be serious because you have limited time to get those important conversations out of the way. Like any relationship, remember to infuse it with fun as well as some serious moments. Give funny cards, or thoughtful gifts. Keep your sense of humor when you’re miles apart and especially when you spend time together.
Managing the transition to one location. By the time you finally get the hang of dating long-distance it will be time to learn how to live and date in the same city. One of you will need to make the transition to a new and unfamiliar location. If you’re the one moving, give yourself extra time to adjust to a new city and new life. Moving is a big challenge, and even more so when in a serious relationship. If you’re the one who got to stay in your city, be extra forgiving of your partner in the first month after the move.
Long-distance relationships require some serious work and consideration. Ask yourself if you’re up for the challenge, and if you are, give it your best effort.
Originally published on Aish.com.