Long-distance romantic relationships can be challenging. Missing the person you’re in love with and longing to be together are among the most intense feelings we experience. But long-distance relationships have a lot to teach us. And in some ways, they can even be healthier than conventional relationships.
A lot of thought and care must go into making any relationship work. This is especially true of long-distance relationships. People often enter relationships because they’re lonely and feel the need to love someone. Before committing to a long-distance relationship, it’s important to understand why you want to be in the relationship. Is it solely out of comfort? Or are you pursuing the relationship because you’re insecure?
When we invest in a romantic relationship, it’s common to attempt to rationalize that our partner is worth the investment of our time. That gets complicated when their values don’t align with ours, or they’re not fulfilling our needs. This requires us to adapt to a situation that we may not genuinely want to be in. To be happy, we need our behavior to line up with who we truly are, so we must be clear about why we’re in the relationship.
In any relationship, we should be sure our partner’s values align with ours. This is especially true of a long-distance relationship. Knowing this before beginning such a relationship will contribute to the possibility of its success. Long-distance relationships can endure, so don’t reject the possibility should the opportunity arise. And if you’re feeling stressed because you’re in one, don’t give up on it.
Here are three key benefits of long-distance relationships:
Benefit 1: Communication
A long-distance relationship forces partners to communicate precisely and succinctly. You will also experience the different ways your partner communicates. Does she confront problems head-on, or does she walk away from them? Does he step back and measure his response, or does he react immediately and emotionally? These factors will give you precious insight into the type of person your partner is. You don’t have the luxury of physical presence in the relationship, so the other facets of the relationship are sharpened.
Benefit 2: Interdependence
Long-distance relationships help establish healthy interdependence, which can only develop when partners don’t have to sacrifice their values. Long-distance relationships force partners to maintain their independence. They won’t have to sacrifice friendships, ambitions, or life purposes for the good of the relationship. Interdependence is the ultimate goal of any romantic relationship. It’s healthy to maintain your identity while loving someone else, involving your life with your partner’s, and honoring each other’s individuality. Your self-esteem isn’t wrapped up in your partner, and you’re not afraid of emotional intimacy. You mutually respect each other and support each other’s ambitions and dreams.
Benefit 3: Self-discipline
Long-distance relationships test partners’ discipline. Physical distance requires the inclusion of celibacy, which involves high levels of self-control and self-discipline. Partners must resist temptation and have intimacy in communication with each other.
There are many positives related to long-distance relationships. But they are also among the most challenging interpersonal relationships to maintain. It can be difficult to focus on the positive aspects when you miss the partner you love and can’t be with him or her.
Here are six tips to help long-distance relationships thrive.
Tip 1: Make future plans together.
Planning things for the future motivates you to look forward to something, which is important. If you can’t get together for a while, purchase plane tickets and make plans. Know the specifics of when you will see each other again. That gives you something to look forward to and something to keep you moving forward in the relationship.
It also serves as proof of your devotion to each other and to the relationship, because it shows you’re working to make it succeed. If your partner isn’t investing the same level of effort to plan things together in the future, there may be issues in the relationship that need to be addressed. Which brings us to…
Tip 2: Communicate openly and honestly.
Long-distance relationships can get frustrating. You spend so much time apart, and you just want to be together. You can only share your lives over FaceTime or phone calls, which may only enhance feelings of isolation. Many long-distance relationships end because frustrations build up and the partners don’t communicate about their feelings. When they finally communicate, arguments erupt and fingers get pointed. That’s ironic because most of the frustration is rooted in the unfulfilled desire to be together.
Remind yourself that long-distance relationships require teamwork. Experiencing frustrations together can help you understand where those feelings are coming from. It requires understanding and empathy to navigate these arguments in a healthy way. Strive to communicate honestly and often about your frustrations.
Tip 3: Don’t sacrifice your goals in life.
Your goals in life need to come first. Life goals are a common reason why people enter long-term relationships. A partner may be working toward career advancement, or furthering education. Don’t sacrifice your ambitions and purpose in life for a romantic relationship. Live each day to the full, whether you and your partner are together or not. Focus on your goals, and continue cultivating your interests, hobbies, and friendships. A healthy long-distance relationship is possible.
Tip 4: Keep your long-term plans in sight.
It’s important to keep in mind your long-term plans for both yourself and for the relationship Partners must understand and respect each other’s long-term goals for the relationship to succeed. If there isn’t, misunderstandings will arise. Discussing long-term plans helps clarify the fact that you see each other in your futures, what your expectations are, and the sacrifices you’re willing to make. It reveals the nature of the compromises that may result. These discussions must be held openly for the relationship to work.
Tip 5: Be considerate of your partner’s schedule.
Differences in time zones, work schedules, and sleep preferences will make it challenging to stay in touch. Even the most well-intentioned partners struggle with this hurdle. When you’re physically together, it’s easier to sync up your schedules and naturally slip into each other’s grooves.
In a long-distance relationship, make the extra effort to know when your partner is most energized, and when he or she can focus on a private conversation with no distractions or time restrictions. As long as both partners feel as though the respect is mutual for your schedules, then resentment or frustration will not build up from feeling that the relationship is unsupportive or inconvenient.
Tip 6: Keep your mindset positive.
It’s not ideal to be physically separated. But being apart can serve as a reminder of how thankful you are for your partner and how much you appreciate him or her. Staying positive helps you through even the most difficult scenarios. Surviving difficulties together helps develop deeper intimacy, and that’s a significant positive.