It is undeniable that long-distance relationships pose significant challenges for even the most seasoned and intimate of couples. Distance necessarily means a reduction in physical and day to day intimacy which can most certainly impact the state of a relationship. However, long distance does not have to be a prescription for a break up. There are many tools and resources couples can employ to maintain a healthy connection in spite of the physical separation long distance necessitates.
In order to manage a long distance relationship, it is first critical to be aware of the challenges that it can present.
Some of these key challenges include:
• Breakdown in emotional intimacy
• Tendency for one or both partners to either withdraw or become overly dependent on relationship
• Lack of or breakdown in communication
Breakdown in Emotional Intimacy
One of the difficulties of long distance relationships is, of course, the lack of time the couple has to spend together. Intimacy is most easily built and sustained by a couple having regular, in person time together. Thus, having a lack of time together puts the couple at risk for growing apart. In order to best manage this challenge, the couple must commit to finding and practicing regular ways to stay emotionally connected. This may include talking on the phone, skype-ing, e mailing, texting and having regularly planned in-person visits.
It is critical to note that it is not just the quantity of communication that is relevant, but also the quality of communication. Meaning, the couple should make it a point to not only communicate about every day happenings, thoughts, and feelings, but also to set aside time to discuss more in depth topics that draw upon issues that are of significance to one or both members of the couple. These topics could include conversations about the couple itself, family issues, work concerns, politics etc. Although it may feel a bit contrived to actually plan for this kind of dialogue, the trade off is worth it. Couples who spend every day together have the opportunity for these types of discussions to occur organically and spontaneously. Couples in a long distance relationship do not have that luxury and need to find ways to stay very in tune with their partners’ emotional climate.
Clearly jealousy and insecurity can rear its head in all relationships, long distance or otherwise. However, long distance relationships can be especially conducive to these types of thought patterns and feelings. Due to the lack of regular, in-person communication and interaction, both members of the couple may be vulnerable to making inaccurate assumptions about how the other person is feeling or what the other person is doing. This type of projection can occur in a multitude of arenas.
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