How to Handle Long-Distance Relationships

April 11, 2016 | Emoke

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The commuter marriageThese days as the world continues to become more connected, and working remotely for a job becomes more and more possible, couples are bound to face some separation times, whether temporary or longer-term.

I have had to go through this type of situation recently with my partner, and I wanted to share some tips and positive thoughts for those of you out there facing similar life events.

Sometimes it can feel as if you are alone in your relationship experiences, but you are not! Depending on the work or school situation, in today's competitive marketplace, it can become inevitable that one or the other half of the couple will need to travel for school (to complete a degree in a more remote place when it was too difficult to get into a school in a city with fierce competition) or work (for a brilliant opportunity that presents itself in a tough industry, i.e. a fashion internship in Paris).

Opportunities present themselves in unexpected ways, and sometimes you just have to take them to progress in your work life and in your development as a person. So what does that mean for the couple? (especially who live together?) Either one of two things usually; either the other partner moves too, or you begin your long-distance journey. Or in the worst case, I guess, you separate, but that is certainly not what I am promoting here!

Obviously, the other partner moving to the new place is not always possible or the smartest solution for the couple as a whole. They may already have a great career in their current location, or family responsibilities, etc. And sometimes, if the couple is in it for the long haul, for example engaged or married, the new opportunity may be beneficial for both parties, either financially, or otherwise.

This post is all about my personal advice and experience, and is just one opinion in how to handle long-distance for a while. I have never done long-distance for a really long term, so that one, I would have to ponder more on.

First of all, convince yourself that this is not the end of the world, or more specifically, the end of your relationship. Of course, again, I am generalizing here and only using my experience as inspiration.

I think it all starts with an examination of how healthy your relationship is in the first place, and if you decide that it is pretty solid, you can start to worry less straight away. What do I mean here? Do you fully trust your partner? Have you had any reason not to trust him or her in general, and when they have been away in the past? Are you supportive of each others' school or work decisions? Can you yourself handle being alone and taking care of yourself for a while? And last, I think at least for me, most important and glaring questions to ask yourself: how is your communication? Are you able to decide things together, and work out ways that both parties are generally satisfied?

Once you have answered positively to most of these questions, you can begin to feel better about your time apart and even think of it as a good thing for your relationship or yourself as a growing human being. A little separation can be a beneficial, so you are not so dependent on your partner and are able to take care of yourself and be independent. A chance to miss your partner can be good to keep the "spark" in your relationship. I think also just knowing that you support each others' dreams and goals, is always reassuring in your relationship so you each feel that you have the freedom to still be your own person and develop. The time apart also gives you a chance to simply think and take a breather from your relationship as a whole. What do you appreciate about it? What would you like to work on when your partner returns? What are your overall relationship goals? Sometimes it can be hard to think about this stuff when your partner is around you all the time and you have to discuss all the mundane day to day things.

While you are apart, however, I think communication often is the key, so you do not feel too out of touch with each other and that you are drifting apart. Talk every day. It doesn't matter what form of communication you like the best: text, email, video chat, phone conversation, etc. There are lots of options available. I personally have preferred the phone call every night, filling each other in on all the important events of the day. I find that the conversations become very to-the-point, as there is no time or point to discuss so called "small-talk". Of course, you can keep up some of the "small talk"  in texts for instance, so you don't feel that your partner is worlds away. And visit regularly if possible, or however often you can afford. This is to keep your connection strong and keep the physical intimacy intact. This is ideal though, of course not all couples are able to do this.

And finally, keep communicating in your regular talks about how you are feeling about things, what works and what doesn't for you.

When your partner comes back, you should feel pretty excited and appreciate them and your relationship all the more. It is easy to take things for granted these days, but once you go through any kind of separation, I feel that it gives you a chance to see things in a new way, and can even help progress things further and make you appreciate your time together more, as life is short and unpredictable.

Read on for more information about this topic from the Toronto Public Library:

The long-distance relationship guide-advice for the geographically challenged  The long-distance relationhsip survival guide- secrets and strategies from successful couples who have gone the distance  Wired to connect- the surprising link between brain science and strong, healthy relationships 

Closer together, further apart- the effect of technology and the Internet on parenting, work, and relationships  The thinking girl's guide to the right guy