a multi-faceted outreach project aimed at encouraging happy, healthy romantic & parent-child relationships

Surviving the LDR: Tips and Tricks for Building a Strong Long-Distance Relationship

*This is a guest post, written by Lauren Blitz. See her full bio at the end of this article.*


Everything is perfect. They are smart, funny, caring, and they treat you like gold. You are on your fifth date, and BOOM. The bomb is dropped. They tell you they have accepted a job in a different state, and they are packing up and moving within the month. Without a second thought, you know that this is not someone you are willing to give up due to the geographical distance, and you want to make this work. However, you've never been in a long-distance relationship before, and you're anxious about how to begin. 


They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. The foundation of a healthy relationship lies within the meaning-making that the couple builds through their communication. The technological age has been a pioneer in the success of long-distance relationships, with many couples frequently using smartphones, texting, video chat, and various social media platforms (Janning, Gao, & Snyder, 2017). This allows couples to be able to feel as close as possible, mimicking the breadth and depth of communication that they would experience if face to face, thus maintaining the feeling of interpersonal closeness. Now, the use of technology and social media can get overwhelming. When do you use it? What’s the appropriate amount to talk during the day? How do you balance the use of face-to-face and non-face-to-face mediums, and is one more effective than the other? Here are some tips and tricks to surviving your LDR so that you can maintain a healthy and thriving relationship no matter the geographical distance. 

Maintain Full-Disclosure and Open Communication
Just like children, adults feel threatened and abandoned when someone they love leaves them (Borelli, Rasmussen, Burkhart, & Sbarra, 2014; Bowlby 1982). Every adult is different, with formed perceptions based on their individual internal working model, comprised of their thoughts, feelings, and expectations regarding their close relationships (Bowlby, 1982). Because of this, as adults, we feel a stress response when separated from our secure base. Disclosing these feelings to our partner both in the beginning and throughout the LDR will allow you to tailor your communication to the emotional needs of each other. Couples create meaning through the use of language and the social construction of reality (Kolozsvari, 2015). This means that sitting down and talking through your feelings before and during the LDR is one of the healthiest approaches for maintenance, and will eliminate any uncertainty. For example, if you know your partner is more anxious than you are about the separation, you know to employ more emotional support and reassurance throughout the week. 




Set Ground Rules
Sitting down and talking about “rules” for your changing relationship may seem strange, but it will allow you to set boundaries and maintenance strategies to begin practicing before the start of your LDR. No two people are alike, even those who are dating each other. For this reason, it is important that you run through your daily schedule and favorite ways to communication so that there is never a conflict when it comes to keeping up your communication. These rules can include what time of day is best for a phone call or a FaceTime, what social media is your favorite to use, and what time of day is off limit for any communication. This conversation can also include how many times you strive to see each other, whether that be every weekend or every three weeks. Setting rules will allow you to feel confident going into your LDR, with the knowledge that you will work hard to achieve these rules. Therefore, you have set goals and moments to look forward to. 

Maintain the Spark
Practicing relational savoring tasks is key in maintaining the spark in your relationship (Borelli et al., 2014). Intimacy is paramount for a healthy relationship, and there are ways to conserve intimacy even in the farthest of distance. Since physical intimacy is limited in an LDR, you must rely on technology to show your partner you are invested in them. Ask them how their day has gone, showing interest in the details by asking prompting questions. Make conscious effort to show your partner you are proud of them, and tell them why. Show your partner you love them by actively listening, and showing interest in their day since you are not there to see it yourself. I would argue that LDR couples have better communication that some close-distance couple’s due to the fact that it is exciting to share the activities of your day with them, since they are not there to see it for themselves. Use this to your advantage, and make sure you are always actively listening. Another effect of geographical separation may be a heightened positive emotional and sexual response when together in person, due to the routine of repeated separation and reunion resulting in repeated “honeymoon effects.” (Kelmer, Rhoades, Stanley, & Markman, 2013). Furthermore, communication future events you are excited about, and make plans for the future. These can be short term, such as the hike you are going to take the next time he visits. Or make it long term, such as the city you will move to together when the LDR is finally over. 

All in all, long-distance relationships are completely doable. They will teach you how to be an attentive partner, and active listener, and they have the power to make your relationship stronger. Even more, you always have a reunion to look forward to, as if the next time you see them is the first time all over again. 





References

Borelli, J. L., Rasmussen, H. F., Burkhart, M. L., & Sbarra, D. A. (2015). Relational savoring in long-distance romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships32(8), 1083-1108.

Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss: Retrospect and prospect. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry52(4), 664.

Janning, M., Gao, W., & Snyder, E. (2018). Constructing shared “space”: Meaningfulness in long-distance romantic relationship communication formats. Journal of Family Issues39(5), 1281-1303.

Kelmer, G., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S., & Markman, H. J. (2013). Relationship quality, 
commitment, and stability in long‐distance relationships. Family process52(2), 257-270.
SHARE:
Blogger Template Created by pipdig