Long-distance relationships often get a bad rap. People often assume that physical distance can equal emotional distance, and that living in different states (or even different countries) can lead to mistrust, arguments, and a lack of passion and connection.
Thankfully, this doesn’t have to be the case. A new study published in the Journal of Communication found that long-distance lovers report a closer emotional connection to their partners than lovers who live in the same house. Long-distance couples also report improved communication and they are more likely to say that they believe that their partner is really listening to them.
It’s wonderful news for the nearly 14% of Americans who are in long-distance relationships, as well as for couples who separated for days or weeks at time due to work obligations. The truth is that physical distance does not have to amount to a lack of intimacy and connection. In fact, it can actually encourage couples to foster healthy habits and improved communication.
Here are some tips to consider to help keep your long-distance relationship strong:
- Make (and keep) regular phone dates. Thanks to today’s technology, long-distance lovers can easily stay in touch. Thanks to Skype and Facetime, you can even see your partner’s face as you catch up on the phone. Make sure to make regular phone dates and to block out a part of each day (or week) in which you can connect with no other distractions. Sending frequent texts and emails is also great, but sometimes your partner needs more than just a note on his Facebook wall in order to feel close to you (and vice versa).
- Take turns visiting each other. Sometimes long-distance couples squabble over who’s turn it is to travel, and work, kids and financial issues can complicate these matters. However, whenever possible, it’s best to trade off evenly so that one partner doesn’t feel as though they are always the ones who are making the effort. When your partner does arrive, make an effort to put your focus on them and enjoy your precious time together. Nitpick about things like cutting the grass or dusting the shelves later.
- Don’t buy into the “he said, she said.” It’s important to talk openly about issues that are bothering you rather than letting all of those miles (and rumors) get in the way. If you see someone new on his Facebook page, ask him about it, rather than going behind his back and trying to get the dirt from one of your mutual friends. Open and honest communication is key in every relationship, but especially so when it comes to long-distance relationships.
- Don’t let expectations and disappointments overwhelm your time together. It’s natural to look forward to seeing your partner and to excitedly plan your activities together. However, remember not everything always goes according to plan…and that’s okay. Let things happen naturally and don’t put too much pressure on having the “perfect” weekend. Just being together is enough!
- Stay connected sexually. Whether it’s a short and naughty sext or a long, erotic email, there are so many ways to stay connected sexually even when you are separated by the Atlantic. Spice up your phone calls with dirty talk or wear a slinky teddy when you chat on Skype. You can even send your partner a letter describing all of the X-Rated things you want to do with him when you are finally together.
- Communicate. Make sure that you talk to your partner about anything that is bugging you, and that you regularly check in to make sure that you are and your partner are still on the same page. If the relationship isn’t working for one or both of you, it’s better to talk about it now and to try to figure the issues out if possible. It’s easy to sweep things under the rug in relationships (especially when you are long-distance lovers), but remember, those issues never go away. They just fester and become worse: So tackle them bravely and honestly in the present.
- Behave as you would want your partner to behave. Stick to the Golden Rule when you are out at parties or socializing with the opposite sex. It’s nice to have attention and to feel attracted and wanted, but if you are coupled up, it’s important not to cross the line or to give the impression that your partner is “out of sight, out of mind.” Finish up your night out by Skyping with your partner if possible—that way, you can both fend off temptation and drift off with sweet thoughts of each other.