Let’s face it, all relationships can face tricky periods, it’s natural, but add long-distance into the mix and it can be another barrier to overcome. Today is Armed Forces Day, and being in the armed forces is just one of the many reasons why you may be in a long-distance relationship. Whether you are currently apart or facing the thoughts of long-distance, we have some expert advice on how to keep the romance alive…
Clinical Sexologist & Relationship Advisor Katie Lasson of Peaches and Screams says,
“Relationships need to be nurtured every day. There is no denying that this is a difficult process because we have to learn to live with ourselves and our partner. Being together on a daily basis makes it easier to build relationships, but there are also relationships that need to be kept while having a distance. Relationships that are divided by cities, countries or continents are becoming more widespread.”
Dr. Jacqui Gabb, Professor of Sociology and Intimacy at The Open University and Chief Relationships Officer at Paired couples app says,
“Yes, you can stay physically and emotionally connected to your partner even when you’re apart. Whether you’re in an ongoing long-distance relationship or the pandemic is keeping you separated, living apart can be tricky. You’ll have geographical distance between you, meaning physical affection is more challenging, and in the space, in between it’s easy to build up a narrative between conversations and for insecurities and jealousy to form.”
“However, more and more research points to the fact it’s not a relationship deal-breaker, in fact, it might even have its perks. A 2014 study by Emma Dargie, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University, found that individuals in long-distance relationships are not actually at a disadvantage and that it’s the general characteristics you bring to a relationship, not the proximity that counts. For example, a couple in a long-distance relationship might work out a way to talk about the small stuff of their day via Whatsapp, and organise weekly Zoom comedy nights, might spend more quality time getting to know each other and gathering trust than a couple living in the same house sitting side-by-side watching Netflix, or out running errands or doing activities together.”
How To Stay Close Physically
Dr. Jacqui Gabb says, “Experts suggest that body language can be an important substitute for physical touch when you’re apart. Plan a video chat, give your partner your undivided attention and make eye contact to show that you’re physically with them. You can even send them a T-shirt of yours or a personal memento so they can still enjoy your scent while you’re away. Also look to other sources of the feel-good chemicals you get from being in close proximity to your partner such as oxytocin (the “cuddle hormone”) and dopamine (the “happy hormone” associated with our reward system) – such as self touch, exercise and laughing with friends. Research has found that practising yoga and listening to music also lead to increased levels in both.”
Katie Lasson says, “It is important to hear your partner’s voice every day to maintain a sense of closeness. On days when you may not have time for a long phone call, send messages throughout the day to ensure that you are always there. Calls and messages throughout the day show that the other person is thinking about you, which is very important if you are separated for a long time. In order not to face the feeling that you have become alienated you have to talk about and around everything. It is important to tell your partner how the day has gone, and to talk about everyday things as well – this can help maintain the relationship. Tell them what book you read, where you went in the evening, what happened at work, these are small but important things. They help your partner get used to your daily routine.”
“One should not rely solely on technologies that can provide a sense of closeness. You can give gifts to feel each other’s warmth. It is important that they are real, tangible, surprise gifts, they do not have to be big and expensive. Imagine you are alone in a strange city. The doorbell rings. The postman has brought a package – that is a big and pleasant surprise. You understand that your partner is thinking of you. The distance is typically characterised by sadness and longing after the other person. In these situations, a gift from your loved one can really help.”
How To Stay Close Emotionally
Dr. Jacqui Gabb says, “If you tend to miss your partner’s emotional support when you’re apart, make sure you make time to connect during the day to maintain closeness and intimacy – send a sexy text; watch a movie together via Zoom, take an online class together or ‘digitize’ dinnertime. You could also start an ongoing project together to work towards. Both buy the same jigsaw puzzle and keep working on it, maintain an ‘LDR playlist’, buy a photo album and take turns being the custodian of it, adding to the pages while you’re apart.”
“Finally, even though it can be tough, take comfort in the fact that space can be good for relationships, allowing you to focus on yourself and bringing excitement and novelty to the relationship. Remember, a relationship is about making a unit from two whole people. Go out to the gym, meet friends, knit that second lockdown scarf – these are things that make you a whole person. Give your partner the go-ahead to do the same. It might seem counterintuitive but it will enrich your relationships rather than detract from it and bring you closer together as a result.”
Katie Lasson says “Schedule your meetings. Planning also creates a sense of closeness. Then time seems to be running faster. Plans don’t have to be grand, they can be small but important. Doing so will leave you both in a positive mood, as you look forward to meeting each other. When you are separated, emotional exhaustion can occur – maintaining the illusion of a common world becomes extremely difficult.”
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