Go ahead. Overshare ... it will actually help.
Intimacy is a key aspect of any healthy relationship or marriage. It's based on a deep knowledge of one another, which typically comes from spending time together. That's why being in a long-distance relationship or marriage brings on special challenges to, both, emotional and physical intimacy.
Without spending time together on a regular basis, we miss out on all the little details that help to define our partner. We don't know what radio station he listens to in the car, or if he's changed his morning routine. We might not hear about that new friend at work, or her favorite new television show. And while these details may seem unimportant, knowing them undoubtedly makes us feel closer to our partner, and helps build intimacy.
Similarly, physical intimacy, the comfort and familiarity we get from being physically close to one another — whether it be holding hands, kissing, or shared sexual experiences— is super-important. Long-distance couples have very limited time together, therefore limiting their time to develop a physically intimate relationship. Some long-distance couples are able to have frequent, long conversations, which help to overcome some of these challenges. In fact, some of these couples get to know each other quite well because of these lengthy, late night Skype chats. Still, without spending the time together, intimacy can suffer.
Here are 10 tips for long-distance couples to maintain closeness, despite the distance:
1. Visit, but not just each other. Visit each other's homes.
Seeing each other is key, so regular visits are a necessity. But, be sure to stay at each other's homes instead of just taking vacation weekends together. Vacations are great, but they don't give us any insight into our partner's daily life. As I previously mentioned, intimacy develops from a deep sense of familiarity with your partner — this familiarity starts at home.
2. Become an oversharer.
The most important thing you can do to build intimacy while you're apart is talk. Talk about your day, and ask about your partner's. Talk about the details, however unimportant you think they seem.
3. Video chat ... daily.
Even those with the busiest of schedules can make time for a quick video chat each day. Being able to see one another daily, even for five minutes, goes a long way toward developing intimacy. The consistent visual connections build familiarity and confidence in knowing one another.
4. Send photos often.
Taking photos throughout your day, and sending them instantly is a quick and easy way to share your daily experiences. It also adds to the transparency of your daily life, which is a key factor in keeping trust alive.
5. Always be willing to learn.
No matter how much you try to build intimacy, living apart means there will likely be things about your partner that you don't know. Whether it's his new favorite beer or her latest work drama, there's often something you yet to hear about. Recognize this, and try not to let it overpower how much you do know. Try your best not to get jealous of the people who are in your partner's daily life — people who may know more of the details.
6. Respect the importance of making an effort.
Long-distance relationships often require more effort from each partner to keep the relationship healthy. You'll have to make time for each other when you're busy, talk when you don't feel like talking, and spend time and money on travel. Recognizing this and respecting its importance will make for a healthier, more intimate relationship.
7. Set an intimacy goal for each visit.
To make the best of the time you do spend together, take time to plan an "intimacy goal" for each visit. One weekend might be all about staying in bed to develop physical intimacy. Another might be about showing your partner the details of your everyday routine. The next visit might be about meeting local friends. When you design your visits with an intent to increase intimacy, the visits will likely feel much more fulfilling, and bring you much closer than they would otherwise.
Instead of trying to forget about the physical intimacy you can't have while you're apart, fantasize about it. Let your mind create stories that you can share with your partner, and consider acting them out next time you meet.
9. Start the countdown
When you make the choice to pursue the relationship long-distance, decide how long you'd be able to live apart. Envision your future living together, and create a plan to get there. Take measurable steps along the way and stick to the plan.
10. Enjoy your personal time.
Instead of focusing on how much you want to share every moment with your partner, appreciate the personal time you have while the two of you are apart. Do the things that make you happy, and tell your partner about them. The happier and more comfortable you are as a person, the better you'll be able to communicate with your partner, and the more intimate your relationship will be.
@RebeccaAMarquis is the author of How to Be a Good Boyfriend: 34 ways to keep her from getting annoying, jealous or crazy, and offers dating humor and advice on her new Facebook page.