5 Tips For Long-Distance Relationships In The Digital Age

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5 Tips For Long-Distance Relationships In The Digital Age

Long-distance relationships, like any other relationship, take effort.

Being across the country or even across the world from your partner is never easy, even in today’s technology-driven world.

Just because you can text, FaceTime, and even engage sexually in a virtual space doesn’t mean you don't need to learn how to make long-distance relationships work in the digital age.

RELATED: 5 Unexpected Ways To Strengthen Relationships When You're Apart

In fact, assuming that technology will keep you from struggling with staying connected emotionally and sexually could actually hurt your chances of making it work.

Do long-distance relationships work?

Believe it or not, almost 3.5 million married couples in the U.S. live apart, according to The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships.

And while many people view long-distance relationships as ultimately doomed to fail, research paints another picture.

A 2014 study of more than 700 long-distance partners and 400 geographically close partners found that long-distance couples were not more likely to be unhappy than those who lived close together.

In fact, research shows that long-distance couples may actually think more highly of their partners, because the lack of day-to-day contact and stress (like their dirty socks all over the floor) can lead to idealization of their partners.

However, long-distance relationships may actually fail more often when a couple finally reunites.

A 2006 study of students at Ohio State University found that a third of long-distance relationships ended within three months of living in the same city.

What can you do to strengthen your relationship for the long haul, whether you’re staying long distance indefinitely or looking forward to reuniting?

Here are 5 ways to maintain a long-distance relationship in the digital age.

1. Maintain digital communication.

In today’s technology-driven world, it’s a lot easier to stay in communication with our partners, no matter where they are.

In fact, research has shown that distance can actually enhance some types of communication for couples.

One study that analyzed people’s diaries of their texts, phone calls, video chats, and other communications with their partners found that long-distance couples actually felt more intimate with each other than geographically close couples.

Another study found that long-distance couples experienced less "problematic communications," like snapping at a partner over dirty dishes or childcare.

Still, it’s important to think about how you’re communicating with a long-distance partner, and take advantage of technology that gives you the best chance for building and maintaining an emotional connection.

2. Call or FaceTime, instead of texting or messaging.

Apps and tools that give you face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction like FaceTime, Skype, or even a good old-fashioned phone call can help you establish a stronger emotional connection with someone than texting and social media.

A study by Dr. Shanhong Luo, a psychologist at North Carolina University, found that college students who spent a significant amount of time texting were less satisfied with their relationship than other couples.

This is because texting replacing some more intimate forms of communication.

Jumping on FaceTime or the phone is especially important if you’re having a difficult conversation with a long-distance partner.

While it may be tempting to avoid face-to-face conflict by sending an angry message, a lack of body language and facial expressions can easily make a simple argument turn into a much larger issue.

RELATED: 6 Signs Your Long-Distance Relationship Is In Major Trouble

3. Take part in sexting and virtual sex.

Creating a thriving digital love life can enhance and get you more excited for the times you do get to connect, physically.

Apps with video features offer many ways to play with partners and create heat together when being in the same room isn’t feasible.

Designed for the on-the-fly photographer in anyone, they make it easier than ever to send a partner a sexy snap and get some dirty talk started.

Teasing is nothing new in dating or online relationships, but technology offers many ways to get creative with your digital love life, without having to get a degree in graphic design.

A tripod, GIF creators, and video-editing apps make it possible to surprise a partner with your own sexy memento to savor and refer back to.

Beyond sexting, using technology in relationships can is one of the most important tips for long-distance relationships to stay connected, sexually.

Technology has come a long way, and there’s more you can do today than ever before to maintain that sexual chemistry.

Teledildonics companies have even paired digital sex toys with apps that either partner can control.

Sex sleeves (designed for males) and vibrators (generally designed for females) can be controlled remotely using an app, giving you and your partner endless ways to tease and stimulate each other from across the world!

Couple this technology and sex with a video chat and it’s as close to the real deal as you can get.

4. Create a life outside of your relationship.

Learning ways to stay connected with your partner is one of the most important tips for long-distance relationships, but it’s important to also put time and energy into working on yourself.

After all, you’ll be spending a lot more time with yourself than you will be with your partner.

Whether you’re attending weddings without a plus one, celebrating a promotion without your loved one, or even just facing a sink full of dirty dishes and the kids’ bedtime routine, long-distance relationships can feel lonely.

Building independence and creating a fulfilling life outside of your relationship is important for your day-to-day happiness, but you also enhance your relationship when you do reunite.

Instead of wallowing in your loneliness and self-pity, invest your time into hobbies, activities, family, and friendships, so you become stronger and more confident.

This independence can foster interdependence in a relationship — when you and your partner can depend on each other but still maintain your individuality, which is key for overall well-being.

But while building independence is important, don’t be afraid to let your partner in on the small stuff about your day.

The mundane details that you might consider boring can actually be an important bonding tool, helping you and your partner feel closer to one another and a part of each other’s lives.

5. Get help if you need it.

While long-distance relationships are certainly not doomed to fail, they do come with unique challenges.

If you’re focusing on building and maintaining an emotional and sexual connection, but still struggling to make your relationship work, couples’ therapy may be able to help.

Another perk of living in the digital age is that online marriage counseling and online couples’ therapy is becoming more and more common and accessible.

Whether you talk to an online couples’ therapist to develop better communication strategies or work with an online sex therapist to enhance your sexual connection with a long-distance partner, a therapist can provide personalized tips that can help you make it work.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why Talking On The Phone Is Better For Your Relationship Than Texting

Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a licensed psychologist, certified sex therapist, PACT II Couples Therapist, and founder of Modern Intimacy in Los Angeles and Miami. The team at Modern Intimacy focuses on helping people heal from trauma, addiction, and sex and relationship issues. Follow her on IG @drkatebalestrieri.

This article was originally published at Modern Intimacy. Reprinted with permission from the author.