Long distance relationships can be challenging for some couples, but research has found that your attitude about the relationship plays a large role in how happy you and your partner will be and whether the relationship will endure. Being a great girlfriend in a long-distance relationship is not that much different than being a great girlfriend in general, but there are a few things that you can do to help ensure the health of your relationship while you and your partner are apart.
Focus On Communication
Communicate clearly with your partner. When partners are physically together, they can rely on a variety of communication forms in order to help their partner understand what they mean. For example, our facial expressions and body movements play a large role in helping others to understand our feelings and the messages that we try to communicate. When we are apart, however, we lose the ability to rely on these other forms of communication. It is therefore very important in long-distance relationships to communicate clearly and effectively. Do your best to say what you mean and mean what you say.
Find ways to share your feelings with your partner. Feelings are often communicated through body language, a factor that is often missing in long-distance relationships. As such, it can be difficult to let your partner know how you are feeling. If you had a fight with your best friend, your partner may not be able to deduce this from the look on your face and therefore may have no idea that you are in a bad mood. Try to let your partner know how you are feeling by directly stating your feelings. The good news is that practicing your ability to convey your feelings verbally will make you a better communicator in all areas of life.
Negotiate with your partner the method and frequency of communication that you will have. You and your partner may have different needs or wants concerning how often you communicate or what mode of communication you rely on. In order to satisfy both of your needs, be open with your partner about how you prefer to communicate (e.g., over the phone, through text messaging, through email or through video chats), and how often you would like to do so. It is important that you both talk about what your expectations are concerning how and how much you communicate so as to avoid disappointment and hurt feelings.
Make Use of Your Creativity
Think outside the box. Just because you and your partner are not physically together does not mean you cannot still enjoy some of the same activities that other couples enjoy. Take in a movie by both renting the same movie and watching it at the same time while talking to each other or chat on the phone while you go grocery shopping. Finding ways to do things together even though you are apart will help you to feel like the couple that you are.
Become tech savvy. The advancements in technology have made being in a long-distance relationship today much easier than it was a few decades ago. No longer do couples need to struggle with enormous long-distance phone bills or rely solely on pen and paper to communicate. Being familiar with how to use computers, smart phones and webcams can make a world of difference in how you and your partner can communicate. From text-messaging to video calls to virtual reality, you and your partner can explore a multitude of communication forms that are changing daily.
Find unique ways to do things for your partner that you might do if you were together in person. Hire someone to clean your partner's house or buy a gift card for a meal delivery service. If you are the type to give your partner small gifts "just because," consider leaving a series of gifts with your partner along with instructions about when to open them. You can even hide the gifts around your partner's house when you are physically together and then provide instructions about where to find them once you are apart.
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- Journal of Applied Communication Research: When Distance Is Problematic: Communication, Coping, and Relational Satisfaction in Female College Students' Long-Distance Dating Relationships
- Computer-Mediated Communication in Personal Relationships; Kevin Wright
- RedOrbit: In Times of Uncertainty: Predicting the Survival of Long-Distance Relationships
- Maintaining Long-Distance and Cross-Residential Relationships; Laura Stafford
- Try to agree on specific times when you will communicate with your partner each day.
- When talking with your partner, give your full attention and avoid interruptions.
Karen L. Blair has been professionally writing since 2001. Her work has been published in academic journals such as the "Journal of Sex Research," "Journal of Social and Personal Relationships" and "Psychology & Sexuality." Blair received her M.Sc. in psychology at Acadia University and her Ph.D. in social psychology at Queen's University. She is currently a post-doctoral fellow and research consultant.
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