Maintaining a healthy relationship requires serious work and commitment. More work is even needed when it is a long distance relationship.
One of the reasons people go into romantic relationships is for companionship. Physical, emotional and psychological connections are attributes of companionship. However, when you are separated from your loved one by distance, then both of you need to put in the extra effort to make your relationship work by keeping the romantic flame alive and burning despite the distance.
I strongly believe that long distance relationship is not meant for everybody. Come to think of it, who wouldn’t want to be close and together with their loved ones? However, things such as career/work, academics/educational pursuit, and other life commitments tend to separate people from their loved ones.
One of the indispensable features of a successful long distance relationship is the ability to trust your partner. If you have serious trust issues in your relationship, going into a long distance relationship with that partner may be more frustrating than rejuvenating.
Long-distance relationships come in different shades and forms. One common thing is that the partners involved in the romantic relationship are separated geographically from each other. The general saying is that ‘out of sight, out of mind’. How true is it in long distance romantic relationships?
Let us consider some hypothetical situations of long distance relationships. Austin is a young Nigerian man in his mid-thirties, who lives in Canada. During Christmas holidays, he returns to Nigeria to spend his annual leave. While in Nigeria, he met Ella, a young Nigerian lady in her mid-twenties. Two weeks after they met, Austin and Ella got married in Nigeria and one month after the wedding, Austin returned to Canada to continue with his job and life. Meanwhile, Ella was already pregnant when Austin returned to Canada. Austin did not intend to invite his wife to join him soon in Canada. Rather, the plan was for him to be coming home twice every year to check on them in Nigeria. Can the young couple withstand the challenges created by separate geographical location?
Biola is an industrious Nigerian lady in her early thirties. She is in a romantic relationship with Uche, a young Nigerian man also in his early-thirties. Along the line, Uche got admission with full scholarship for his postgraduate studies in the United States of America, a programme that will last for at least four years. So, he left for USA to resume with his studies while Biola stays back in Nigeria. Meanwhile, he plans to invite her to join him in the USA within two years of commencing his studies. How do you think Uche and Biola will manage their relationship within these two years? Do you think the relationship can withstand the pressures and challenges associated with long-distance relationship?
How do you and your partner keep the fire in your relationship burning, even when you are separated by geographical location?
Here are great ways to make your long distance relationship work:
- Define your relationship: If you are married, then the relationship is already defined. However, if you are not yet married, then you need to define the aim of the relationship so that you both have similar expectations. Defining the relationship guides your commitment level and expectations. For instance, is your relationship casual or exclusive? If it is exclusive, then the other points given here will help you and your partner to successfully navigate the separation period.
- Plan for the future: Long distance relationships hardly last forever. It is mostly for a period of time, after which the couple gets to be together. So, discuss the duration of your being apart. Have a plan on how and when it would end and you both get to be together. The expectation of being together again can be a great motivation weather for the period you are apart.
- Deliberate and effective communication: Communicate as often as you can, but do not choke yourselves up. Talk about both the big and the seemingly little things. Explore different means of communication, such as skype, video calls, chats, emails, etc to keep the fire in your union burning.
- Build trust: The distance separating you and your partner is an avenue to build trust between yourselves. Trust is basic for the success of any long distance relationship. Trust is built, not forced. Carrying each other along in your plans and activities helps to build trust. When you have an idea of what your partner could be doing, it makes you feel close to each other, even when you are apart.
- Do things together: Although you are separated by distance, technology has made it possible for you and your partner to plan and do similar activities together. These include, but not limited to seeing same movie same time, watching same programme, reading same book, taking a stroll together and chatting, cooking/eating same thing/same time, etc. Remember to take the different time zones into consideration where necessary.
- Set boundaries and limits: Setting boundaries, especially with the opposite gender, will help you to maintain trust and avoid being in compromising situations.
- Do the sex talk: Do the so called ‘dirty talk’ (sex talk) with your spouse. This helps to reduce the sexual pressures, which can be a challenge when long distance is involved.
- Give each other gifts: Gifts have a way of warming the heart. Order and send personal gifts to each other to mark birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. Online shops have made it easy to do this. Give yourselves positive surprises to cherish.
- Be accountable to each other: Carry yourselves along with your plans, programs, friends, family, and work/career related happenings.
- Keep busy: An idle mind, they say, is the devil’s workshop. Keeping busy helps you to fill up the time and space created by geographical separation in your relationship. You need some level of self-sufficiency and independence in order not to choke the relationship by seeking too much attention.
- Connect with family and friends: No body is really thrives in isolation. So, maximize your connection with family and friends.
- Maximize the opportunity: Invest in self and career development with your extra time
- Share your wins and your losses/mistakes: Encourage each other, be positive and happy.
- Review you relationship: Periodic review of your relationship is important to know how well each of you is coping with the long distance thing and to identify areas that you need to adjust or review.
- Plan and visit: No matter how well and long you carry on in your relationship, you still need each other physically for extra emotional support. Therefore, plan a visit. This could make a whole lot of difference in your relationship.