How to Make Your Long Distance Relationship Stronger and More Resilient
Updated: Aug 28, 2018
A long distance relationship doesn’t have to be difficult. While it won’t ever be easy, with the right relationship strategies and boundaries, you can work to make your relationship resilient regardless of the distance between you and your partner.
This is by far the most foundational element, and out of this come all the following steps. Both you and your partner need to be 100% committed to making your relationship thrive, no matter how far apart you are or how long your relationship is separated by distance.
If both of you are committed fully to the idea, you can start to lay the groundwork for a healthy, happy long distant relationship.
But if one or both of you aren’t ready to give this your all, you’ll quickly run into the rough patches that so many long distance couples experience. Both of you must lay all your cards on the table, and communicate how important this relationship is and how committed you are to it.
You’ll also want to check in with each other on a regular basis to discuss this ongoing commitment.
2. Set Expectations
“Expectations are dangerous,” warns Lionel Shriver, “when they are both too high and unformed.”
Unreasonable expectations, or expectations that aren’t communicated clearly, are poison for any relationship. But those unmet or miscommunicated expectations become a much bigger deal when distance is involved.
For example, if your partner forgets to call you on his lunch break, you might be annoyed until you see him at dinner. But if this was going to be your only point of contact with him until the next day (like it may if you’re in a long distance relationship), the missed call takes on more importance and significance.
Before distance separates the two of you, sit down and talk about both of your expectations. How will you communicate and stay in touch? How often should this happen? How often will you be able to see each other? Who will do the traveling? Who will pay for the traveling?
These are just basics. You may also want to get into additional ground rules. Are there social circumstances you’d prefer your partner to avoid while you’re separated? How much of their extracurricular life do you need to know about? Are either of you open to unconventional, more digital ways of keeping the spark of romance alive between the two of you? And so on.
3. Be Aware of Idealization
Similar to setting expectations with each other, it’s also critical that you set expectations on your own inner self.
When you are apart for a while, it can be tempting to think with a black-and-white, all-or-nothing mindset. When something bad happens, it might feel like the end of the world. If something good happens, you might be on cloud 9.
During this time it’s also tempting to begin to idealize your partner. In many ways, the phrase is true: Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
Without the daily grind and the annoyances of everyday life, it’s easy to see your partner as some sort of perfected, romantic picture, forgetting all the little things that would otherwise remind you daily that he or she is still human with annoying habits or odd quirks.
Idealization can put the pressure of perfection on your partner the next time you’re together, which can crush a relationship. Keep yourself grounded on the humanity of your partner to help ground the relationship itself.
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