How to Stay Connected At A Distance? What You Do On Your Own is More Important Than You Think


By: Jennifer Belus. Jennifer has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and works as a researcher on the University of Maryland. Her research is centered on growing interventions to assist {couples} overcome psychological and bodily well being issues and relationship challenges. She is additionally co-creator of Elevate Wellness Retreats, a weekend retreat centered on serving to {couples} get more healthy collectively. Find out extra about her work here.

So you’re in a long-distance relationship (LDR)? Maybe you
or your associate took a job or academic alternative in one other metropolis, state,
or nation. Maybe one (or each) of you is at present deployed. Or possibly you met
whereas residing in separate places and have every stayed in your respective
cities. Whatever the explanation, {couples} in LDRs know that sustaining a wholesome
relationship at a distance takes work! Of course each relationship requires
effort, however LDRs have distinctive challenges to sustaining good relationship
well being.

Two main challenges in LDRs are how to preserve each day
communication and a way of closeness and intimacy if you’re bodily
separated more often than not. Maintaining that connection is tougher
if you’re long-distance, since a few of the methods you would possibly present closeness or
expertise intimacy you possibly can’t do when far aside—a fast kiss, a light-weight contact, or
even eye contact.

Of course, it is very potential to really feel linked to your
associate whereas being geographically separated; the trick is to know what to do
and when to do it, so as to maximize intimacy and closeness. Continue
studying to discover out extra about what’s essential.

One Way to Think about
an LDR

Instead of considering of your total relationship as one huge separation, it may be useful to take into consideration durations of separation (if you and your associate are bodily aside for longer stretches of time). Each of those durations of separation additionally has a earlier than and after. Let’s break this down.

Before separation. This is the time if you and your associate are collectively, however you’re anticipating the upcoming separation. Like the Monday morning after you’ve spent the lengthy weekend collectively and one in all you is driving or flying dwelling later that day.

During separation. This is the long-distance half—the place you’re your associate are bodily separated.

After separation. This is the time period if you and your associate are bodily reunited. For some {couples} this is one weekend at a time, whereas different {couples} would possibly reunite for a month or longer, however then have longer durations of separation in between.

This earlier than, throughout, and after separation is a cycle—you’re
bodily collectively, then you definitely separate, after which lastly (after what would possibly really feel
like ceaselessly) you reunite. This cycle continues for so long as you’re in an
LDR. So why is fascinated by LDRs on this approach useful?

The most essential motive for breaking down LDRs on this approach is that what you do to preserve a wholesome relationship seems completely different in every section. A lot of what is written about LDRs focuses on the section of separation. Now in fact this is essential—being bodily separated is in all probability most of the way you spend your time (bodily aside, as a substitute of collectively). But the opposite phases are essential to take into consideration too. So let’s discuss what’s useful, and what isn’t, in every of those time phases.

Before we discuss what to do in every section, have you ever ever thought of your personal LDR on this approach earlier than?

How do ‘I’ and ‘They’
Fit into ‘Us’?

Before we dive into what to do, and what not to do, in every
section of the LDR, I would like you to think about yet one more factor. If you learn a lot about
LDRs—looking for recommendation or recommendations on how to finest handle your relationship at a
distance—then you definitely in all probability learn lots about what you and your associate, collectively, ought to be doing. Like
speaking typically. Spending a sure period of time collectively. It is smart
to concentrate on the relational side, however it’s not the one piece.

What you every do individually,
your personal ideas and behaviors, and the way you every incorporate your broader social community, like leaning on household
or pals for help, has an impression.

There are literally three dimensions to the way you
preserve your relationship—what every associate does on their very own (particular person
dimension), what the couple does collectively (relational dimension), and the way every
associate brings of their broader social community (community dimension).

Before you learn on, have you ever thought-about the person and community dimensions of the way you method your LDR?

Different Ways of
Maintaining your Relationship at a Distance—All are Not Created Equal

If we put collectively the LDR phases (earlier than, throughout, and after separation) with the size of relationship upkeep (particular person, relational, and community), we find yourself with a 3 x 3, like this one (click on to obtain a PDF outlining the three angles we can use to consider an LDR). When we take a look at it like this, it helps us see that the methods we use at every section and at every dimension can look completely different. These methods then have the potential to work roughly nicely, relying on the section and the dimension.

You could be questioning, “So which of them are good? Which ones
ought to I focus my vitality on?” Lucky for you, we did a survey examine on this with
US adults in LDRs that may shed some gentle.

The Role of the

The first not too stunning discovering was that the relational
dimension (what the couple does collectively) throughout the separation section was
essential for total relationship well-being. Individuals who communicated
extra with their companions throughout their time aside reported better relationship

However, what the couple did earlier than or after separation did
not predict somebody’s reported stage of relationship satisfaction.

The take dwelling level
right here is that what you do as a pair when you’re bodily aside appears
to be most essential for relationship well-being.
Focus much less on what
precisely you’re going to do if you’re reunited and spend extra time figuring
out how to talk with one another usually when you’re aside to preserve
that connection. For some {couples} that features frequent texts all through the
day and quick name at evening. For different {couples} it’s a protracted make amends for video
chat within the night however little or no all through the day. You and your associate
want to work out what works for you, as a unit.

The Role of the

Now, the extra stunning findings. When we seemed on the
particular person dimension of relationship upkeep—every particular person’s ideas and
behaviors outdoors of what they do with their associate—we discovered that particular person
behaviors earlier than, throughout, and after separation have been all associated to relationship
satisfaction—however in numerous methods. More individually-focused behaviors earlier than and
throughout separation (e.g., mentally making ready for the separation, reflecting on
the connection throughout the precise separation), have been associated to extra
relationship satisfaction.

In different phrases,
individuals who engaged in additional psychological preparation and private reflection in
advance of the bodily separation, after which once more whereas they have been bodily
separated from their associate, have been extra glad with their relationship
This highlights that what you do by yourself is essential in your
relationship well being—not simply what you and your associate do collectively.

What you do by yourself is essential in your relationship well being—not simply what you and your associate do collectively.

Jennifer Belus

Even if you happen to’ve been in an LDR for some time, and really feel such as you’ve gotten right into a rhythm with the separating and reuniting, the method can nonetheless take a toll, bodily and emotionally. Taking the time to plan for the separation and get into the appropriate ‘head space’ may also help with the transition.

It additionally helps that when separated out of your associate, you
proceed to have interaction in constructive beliefs about your relationship. Of course, if
you’re actually struggling within the relationship, simply considering positively is not
going to resolve the underlying downside. But it may be useful to maintain constructive future-oriented
ideas readily available as a relationship software, like reminding your self that your
relationship can face up to the gap.

And if you’re lacking your associate throughout the separation, you can even do some unbiased reminiscing. Thinking again to earlier good occasions within the relationship could be satisfying and proceed to strengthen the connection you’ve got together with your associate, even when the 2 of you aren’t collectively. (Here are another methods to help yourself become happier and healthier when you’re aside.)

Although these extra individually-focused behaviors earlier than and through separation seem fairly useful, in our examine, the usage of these behaviors throughout the time when the couple was reunited was associated to decrease relationship satisfaction. Things like processing the current separation by yourself if you and your associate have already reunited is doubtless unhelpful as a result of it pulls you away from spending time together with your associate and constructing new connections.

The Role of the

And what in regards to the position of the community in relationship
upkeep? It seems, these behaviors don’t matter an excessive amount of. Whether you
like to share slightly, or lots, with pals or household about your
relationship, it doesn’t appear to affect how glad you’re with
your relationship.

Bottom Line

Here are the highest three take-home factors from this analysis examine and a few motion gadgets for you to think about:

1.     How typically you and your associate talk throughout the interval of being bodily separated was related to relationship satisfaction—extra communication was related to better relationship satisfaction.

Each time you and your associate talk, it provides you a chance to develop a brand new, deeper connection. 

Action merchandise: Reflect on how typically you and your associate talk throughout your time aside.

When you do talk, whatever the mode (textual content, telephone name, video chat) are you and your associate utilizing communication as a chance to construct new connections with one another? If not, think about altering up when or how you talk as a primary step.

You additionally could have gotten right into a rut with what you discuss. Experiment with video date nights or exploring new subjects of dialog as a approach to have enjoyable and get to see one another in a unique gentle.

2.     What you do by yourself (your personal ideas and actions) earlier than and through separation is simply as essential in your relationship satisfaction as what you and your associate do as a pair.

Getting into the appropriate ‘head space’ earlier than you and your associate separate may also help ease the transition of flying solo once more. Once separated, you should utilize that solo time to proceed to really feel nearer to your associate by actively reflecting on previous constructive relationship experiences (like that nice trip you took collectively final summer season) and in addition persevering with to have constructive future-oriented ideas about your relationship (“Our relationship can withstand the distance”). 

Action merchandise: What sort of ideas do you have a tendency to have earlier than and through bodily separation out of your associate? If they’re principally unfavourable, strive beginning by deliberately reflecting on a constructive reminiscence. It’s additionally okay if some emotions of disappointment/longing come up when you’re reflecting—that simply means you care about your associate and worth the connection.  

3.     In our examine, better relationship satisfaction additionally predicted better private well-being.

People who reported greater relationship satisfaction additionally reported much less psychological misery (much less despair, anxiousness) and total extra satisfaction with life. The profit then of enhancing your relationship is that there’s additionally likelihood you’ll enhance your personal well-being within the course of. 

Action merchandise: Reflect on how your emotional well-being is linked to your relationship satisfaction. Notice how you are feeling at occasions when your relationship is thriving and occasions if you and your associate could be struggling. If you discover that these two go hand-in-hand for you, then all of the extra motive to discover methods to prioritize your relationship well being. Start by incorporating the connection motion gadgets mentioned above and see how which may shift your emotional well-being.

Food for Thought

What particular person, relational, or community behaviors do you have interaction in earlier than, throughout, and after separation?

Use the chart supplied to establish which behaviors you (and your associate) are at present doing. Are you spending sufficient vitality and time on the behaviors that depend most (particular person behaviors earlier than and through separation and the connection behaviors throughout separation)?

Stay in contact by signing up for my FREE 5-day course, LDR ESSENTIALS.


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