7 ways to make a long-distance relationship work (and actually last)
Most women I know tell me that they would never be in a long-distance relationship because they think it would be too difficult. I have people tell me they would absolutely never participate in one, as if long-distance relationships are toxic to them.
But “long-distance” doesn’t have to be such a dirty word. Long-distance means you have your own damn bed to sprawl out in, and you don’t have to reply on someone else to do the dishes.
If you’re interested in trying out long-distance, or you’re already on that wave, there are ways to make the relationship go more smoothly. We spoke to relationship expert and clinical phycologist, Dr. Danielle Forshee, about the main things that help keep a long-distance relationship as strong as a regular one.
“Regular, intermittent positive reinforcement. For example, if you normally only get a phone call from your partner, yet you love it when they facetime you, you will want to make sure that you positively reinforce the behavior of them facetiming you.”
“Constant integration. This means despite the distance, you are able to integrate this person into your life and vice versa. Integration will assist both partners in feeling very close emotionally, which will help the relationship last.”
“Expression of appreciation. Regularly, you want to express how much they mean to you verbally as well as non-verbally through your behaviors.”
“Rituals of connection. It is important to have some sort of creative and predictable ritual that the both of you engage in together while you are apart. For example, every Sunday you eat dinner together and watch a movie while on the phone at the same time.”
“Active listening. When we are far from our loved one, it can be really difficult to feel like you can really be there for them in their time of need. The way that you can do this most effectively from a distance is to come from a place of inquiry and understanding. This means that you should listen to what they say, ask open-ended questions so that you can understand better, and then validate and empathize.”
“Plan ahead and schedule. When we know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with how long we have to tolerate not being affectionate and not connecting physically, it helps ease the time in between.”
“Having disagreements can be scary when you’re apart. When a fight occurs, it is important that you not respond in the heat of the moment, because that is when you are most vulnerable to saying things that you will later regret. Have an agreement with your partner that you will take some time apart for no more than 24 hours, and no less than 1 hour, where you will have time to calm yourself down and reflect upon the argument. When you come back together to talk about it, it’s important to take turns with sharing your feelings, describing your reality of what happened, and taking responsibility for your part in it.”