4 Tips For Surviving A Long-Distance Relationship

Make your romance go the distance when you're miles apart.
With the globalization of everything, travelling and working overseas becomes part and parcel of life. And like many people, you may find yourself having to cope with a long-distance relationship: Maybe you were stationed apart when you met. Or maybe your partner has been offered a fantastic opportunity abroad, and you're trying to keep the magic alive despite the distance.

One thing's for sure: Maintaining a long-distance romance can be extra challenging. "Being able to plan to do things with someone and having them nearby does help in building intimacy and allows the relationship to strengthen through shared experiences," says relationship counsellor, Julia Armstrong. "Long-distance relationships can mean that it is easier for insecurities to arise that could be allayed through a hug or a shared evening and through being close on a regular basis."

But there's no reason to think yours is doomed. You do need to be prepared to work much harder to make things work, though. Armstrong suggests four things you can do to make a long-distance relationship work.

1. Communicate frequently

Number one rule: Communication. Keeping in very close contact is important in a regular relationship, but it's doubly vital for a long-distance one. Just how close? "The more, the better," says Armstrong. "The space between two people is where the relationship exists and what is put in that space makes the difference to whether the other feels safe or not." Agree how often you'll call each other and stick to it so that it becomes part of your regular routine. Of course, real life might not in the way of this but it's good to lay ground rules so that you both know where you stand. Using a webcam can add a more personal dimension to the conversations as you can see each other while you talk and the distance doesn't seem quite so overwhelming. How you handle the conversations is just as important as how often you speak. "It is really important to listen deeply and carefully so that the space between builds in trust," says Armstrong.

2. Arrange visits

Phone calls and video chats are great for touching base but there's no substitute for spending quality time together face-to-face. If possible, set "rules" that you'll see each other whenever you can afford to. As with scheduling phone calls and general communication, Armstrong advises seeing each other as much as possible.

If you can't meet up as often as you'd like, you'll need to be mutally understanding and avoid saying negative things like 'If you really loved me, you'd make more effort to visit.' Armstrong suggests trying a change of attitude to avoid seeming as though you're pointing the finger. "Look at the positives of having your partner in your life and how it is enhancing your life rather than the focus being on how you would like them to be there more, as this can make all the difference to how you are together when you do actually see one another." Most important of all, do make the most of the time that you can spend together and see this in a positive light.

3. Ditch the paranoia

When you're apart, it's easy to find yourself wondering if he's cheating. But trust is so important especially in a long distance relationship. Expressing and demonstrating your feelings for each other can go a long way towards letting your partner know that you're committed to making the relationship a success.

Discuss what you're feeling rather than projecting onto your partner. For example, instead of saying 'You never call me on time' say something like 'I don't feel important when you're late for our calls' as this sounds less accusatory. Also avoid using words like "always" and "never", says Armstrong, as these can be very off-putting.

4. Surprise your partner

Planning little surprises every so often shows that you're thinking of him even when you're apart. "Surprises show that you're making your partner a priority," says Armstrong. "We all want to feel loved and taking notice of what your partner likes and acting on it is a very powerful message that says 'You are important to me and I love you'," she adds. Not sure what to surprise your partner with? "Keep a list of things that your partner mentions in passing, like a book or something that they would like to do," suggests Armstrong. Want to get soppy and romantic? Send a gift that you know will be appreciated with a romantic note attached or record a personalized video message.

Long-distance relationship don'ts

When you're hundreds of miles apart, there are plenty of things you can do to keep the flame alive. A long-distance relationship, however, has its don'ts, too. And these are some things you'd want to steer clear of:

It's always you doing the chasing
If it's always up to you to make the phone calls and visits, a long-distance relationship can become even more frustrating. "Reflect on whether you have any part of you that doesn't believe that your partner will stay if you don't do the running," says Armstrong. If this is the case, it's time for some personal work to shift that part of you that doesn't feel worthy, she adds. If you find him fading from your life, make an effort to talk in an open way, listen to one another and empathize with what is going on for the other before thinking and talking through how you both want to go forwards.

You're always sitting by the phone
Being in a long-distance romance doesn't mean putting your life on hold in case he decides to call. If you're waiting by the phone, it isn't a relationship. "It's worth remembering that no-one else can really 'make us happy' -- engaging in your own life is very important and a relationship can then be a place of personal growth and a chance to develop and open up to your passion," says Armstrong.

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