It has been a long held belief in our society that long distance relationships are almost impossible and that they take up too much time and effort to sustain. Contrary to this assumption, studies are now suggesting that couples in long-distance relationships actually have an equal shot at making it work. One of the most difficult factors involved in being away from your special someone is the lack of physical proximity. Although physical affection and contact is imperative for a healthy relationship, psychological intimacy is what ultimately preserves the vitality and security of the relationship. So what is the secret to a long-distance, long-lasting love-connection? Here are 4 fundamental habits that can create a world so intimate, you might not even notice the distance:
- Forthright Conflict Management Style: This is the most critical component because couples who are in close proximity with one another have the luxury of physically being in the same space to work things out. They also have the ability to read each other’s body language and facial expressions. In any relationship, but especially in long-distance relationships, avoid managing conflict through text messages. Raise the issue to your partner from an “I” perspective. Do not try to persuade your partner of your stance on the issue, rather honestly share your thoughts and feelings as to why you feel so strongly about your position.
- Equality, Fairness, and Balance: There will inevitably be a lot of traveling, calling, texting, emailing, and skyping. If one partner feels like they are carrying most of the responsibility and weight in the relationship, they might grow resentful over time. Try to make an equal effort to stay connected by sharing or alternating the contact and/or visits.
- Rituals: Rituals are defined as consistent behaviors or acts of communication assigned to one or both individuals in the relationship that are expected and repeated habitually. Rituals are about the roles each individual plays in the relationship—What do we do or say when one of us gets sick? Do we say good morning every day? Do we talk on the phone at a certain time every night? How do we celebrate birthdays? How do we celebrate milestones? These are all rituals that build a sense of consistency, belonging, predictability, meaning, reliability, dependability and ultimately trust without having to say a word. Rituals help shape the relationship into its own unique entity.
- Create Permeable Worlds: Creating and sharing one world with someone is a meaningful and extraordinary experience that is essential to a relationship; however, it is equally important for each person to preserve and maintain their individual worlds. The individual world includes all of the elements that make you, you such as: work, family, friends, hobbies, good and bad memories, your likes, your dislikes, your mood, your emotions, etc. Your individual world is constantly transforming, effecting your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Making your individual worlds permeable for one another permits and generates insight and a sense of inclusion for your partner. Why is this important? It eliminates assumptions which in turn eradicates doubt and uncertainty in each other and in the relationship.
These 4 habits create a sense of intimacy regardless of the number of miles between two people. All relationships require a certain level of effort, attention, and tender loving care—near or far. After all, the heart knows no distance.
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