Keeping the spark alive while living apart can be tough! But these simple yet helpful tips might make your long-distance love a little easier. Read on!
1. Set guidelines
Boundaries and rules may sound serious, but without some sort of plan, living apart can become complicated. ‘Almost 70% of couples in long-distance relationships who did not set rules, or deal with changes ended up breaking up within six months,’ says Dr Gary Guldner, director of The Centre for the Study of Long Distance Relationships.
Set guidelines that can help you both nurture the relationship. Be honest and talk about what you expect from one other; whether it’s the possibility of an open relationship or staying faithful to one another.
These guidelines can include scheduled times to chat – like date-night for long-distance couples. If you argue a lot, scheduled catch-ups can help both of you know you’ll have a set time in the week to talk things through properly.
2. Don’t make assumptions
Trust is important in every relationship, more so when you don’t get to see each other often. If you allow your mind to wander and imagination run wild when your partner lives in another province, country or even continent, you’re only going to become anxious and stressed.
‘Remember to build trust continuously through having regular contact, creating special moments and being as close as possible through the use of technology,’ says Sandton-based psychologist Dr Tanya Robinson. ‘I do believe a long-distance relationship needs to be built on trust and can only work when there is open, honest and frequent communication.’
This starts with you being up-front and honest about any fears you may have, behaviour of your partner’s that worries you, or exes who may still be in the picture. Check in regularly with bae and ask the tough but key questions: ‘How are we doing?’, ‘Is this working for you?’ and ‘Do you still feel committed to us?’ could open up deeper conversations.
Kobus van der Merwe, a therapist at Imago Relationship Therapy in Pretoria, says, ‘Call each other at least three times a week. You can sit 1 000km from each other and have a good conversation over the telephone and feel very close. Because you can’t see each other in a long distance relationship, you need to put extra energy into listening. Listening is the most important element of good communication.’
4. Wrap and send
Do something different; write a letter or send your partner a care package filled with all of their favourite comforts. In long-distance circumstances, taking the sentimental route will can keep the spark alive. It’ll also remind each other that, despite the distance, you’re thinking of your relationship first.
5. Reunite as often as you can
If you can’t afford to fly to see bae, reuniting can be in the form of planned-out Skype dates – eating dinner ‘together’ over Skype or video call, for example. If you can, plan holidays together and set up a savings account to allow for visits every now and then. Every little helps!
6. Don’t neglect intellectual foreplay
According to relationship and life coach, Shelley Lewin, physical intimacy might be a large part of a fulfilling relationship, but there are other more crucial aspects to a deep and meaningful one. ‘Sometimes sexual chemistry is so overwhelming we become wrapped up in the excitement and we forget to ask pertinent questions crucial to a long-term, successful romance,’ says Lewin. ‘Distance can provide an excellent opportunity to become conscious and objective by getting to know your partner on a much deeper level. Intellectual foreplay will help you to determine whether it’s worth all the waiting.’