Due to the circumstances of life, you and your loved one might find yourselves in a long-distance relationship. Initially, this type of relationship might feel like a strain on your love. But research shows that long-distance lovers often enjoy equal or higher levels of relationship satisfaction as compared to couples who live close by, according to a study titled "Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder," in the "Journal of Communication." Long-distance relationships don't generally require less work -- sometimes, they require more. If distance plays a role in your relationship, there are some strategies you can employ to keep that spark alive even when the miles separate you.
Consider Your Level of Attachment
Different people have different levels of attachment. Those who are securely attached are not necessarily pleased with the geographical separation of a long-distance relationship, but they can handle it emotionally, suggests Susan Krauss Whitbourne, professor of psychology, in her "Psychology Today" article "Love from Afar: Staying Close While You Live Apart." Those who are not securely attached can fall victim to depression or anxiety during the long-distance relationship. Be honest with yourself and consider past relationships. Ask yourself how well you weathered the absence of past partners. If you suffer from insecurity, communicate this with your partner and understand that you might have to build your independence before a long-distance relationship can work.
At the very beginning of a long-distance relationship, both partners should establish their expectations with each other, suggests relationship therapist Terri Orbuch in her "Huffington Post" article "Going Long-Distance? 8 Essentials to Help Your Relationship Thrive." Talk about the typical relationship concerns, such as the possibility of kids, how to navigate trust issues and even finances. Since this is a long-distance relationship, you'll also need to talk about visiting arrangements. Talk about how often visits should occur, how long they will last and the possibility of meeting each other halfway.
Set Goals Together
Make future goals for your relationship. While long-term long-distance relationships can work, a plan to eventually be together can provide a light at the end of the tunnel. For example, perhaps after your girlfriend finishes pursuing her master’s degree, you can aim to live geographically closer. Or perhaps you want to look for job opportunities closer to her. In addition, Orbuch points out that shared goals remind you that you are both working as a team despite the distance.
Set a Routine
No matter how secure the two of you are, schedule time to communicate. Whether it's a daily phone call or a weekly video chat, set contact times. During these chats, let your partner know what's going on around you. Describe the people you interact with daily, and share your ups and downs. The goal is to help your partner envision the world you are living in. If your long-distance chats seem to be losing your interest, consider a shared activity like reading the same book or watching the same TV show and then comparing notes.
- Wiley Online Library: Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships
- Psychology Today: Love from Afar: Staying Close While You Live Apart
- Huffington Post: Going Long-Distance? Eight Essentials to Help Your Relationship Thrive
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images