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2.06.2017

Long-distance love: making the relationship work

Whether because of a job opportunity, deployment, or continuing education at a distant institution, more couples are living geographically apart than ever before. And despite the conventional wisdom that long-distance relationships are doomed without continual physical intimacy, many partners are discovering that with effort, trust and honesty, it’s possible to keep the connection and flame alive no matter how many miles are between them.  Here are some ideas:

Accept that it will take effort. Know that it is going to take time and expense to travel, planning to talk on different time zones, and social adjustments to fly solo to gatherings. Remember, the payoff is worth it.

Make video chat a consistent event. Sharing face time is one of the most important connections you can make.

Open up and share details. It’s the little things that help define us and our partners. You might mention the new co-worker who joined your team, the dog that made friends with your pooch at the dog park, or the new plant you saw at the greenhouse that caught your eye. Be sure to ask detailed questions of your partner in return.

Try to do things together, “over the line.” For example, try reading the same book or watching the same TV series individually on your own. Then discuss it during your calls. For something more lively, try online multiplayer games like Scrabble or backgammon.

Send photos of your daily experiences—especially things of special interest to your partner or of shared interests. Snap a pic of a new dish you sampled, of the street jazz artist you passed by, or of the sign-up sheet for the 5K you plan to run.

Plan for your reunion. Discuss what you can do to further strengthen your bond. Keep in mind that a visit need not resemble a fancy destination vacation. Strengthening bonds also depends on being involved in your partner’s everyday life/routine/environment.

Be wary of idealizing your partner. This can set you up for disappointment. Remember, when you reunite, there will be a period of re-adjustment when the other person’s faults may come into view again. Don’t let it overshadow his or her assets.

Really listen to and applaud new experiences and people in each other lives. Remember, couples who embrace opportunities to expand their own horizons and grow as individuals can enrich and strengthen their partnership.

For Health Advocate members

  • If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program and have issues with relationships, talk to your Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor. You’ll receive free, confidential help, and if needed, referrals for additional support.
  • If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.