Have a plan to close the gap.
A long-distance relationship is not a proper relationship. Exactly my thoughts.
Now, I’ve been in one for almost 2 years. I won’t say it’s easy, but it’s doable in the right conditions, with the right person.
What I've learned so far is this: You can never replace physical intimacy with a Zoom call. However, there are ways to manage the distance.
1. Open communication lines about difficult topics
If it’s hard to discuss over a call, it might be harder to do in person. There are topics we can avoid now, but not later.
There are topics such as having kids, finances, political ideologies, and plans for the future.
Establishing open communication lines now is an investment that will pay off later.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.—George Bernard Shaw
How to start: Each couple has their own difficult topics list. Go over yours and think of ways to talk about them while you are both in a good mood. Never start with "We need to talk."
2. Something to look forward to
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. -Benjamin Franklin
If you are not planning the next step to be together, you are wasting time. An excuse for this is enjoying the moment.
I'm not saying you should not enjoy the moment, but commitment entails looking ahead. Usually, this is a plan to get together for a short period or the long-term.
How to start: Set a goal for the next 3 to 6 months to see each other again. Find a location, look up hotels, and talk about things you can do as a couple.
3. A plan to close the gap
The distance between you is temporary. The way to make this shorter is to take that small step into imagining, planning, and executing the plan to be together.
A long-distance relationship cannot survive without hope. And for there to be hope, there must be some possibility that the two people involved will one day be together and achieve a happily ever after. -Mark Manson
Optimism without action is pointless. Take that small step into making it happen.
How to start: Whether it’s saving for flight tickets or listing down things to do for the holidays, just do it.
4. Complete trust with one another
Why do some people avoid long-distance relationships?
Honesty begets honesty. When small lies add up, trust breaks down. So when you think lying will save your soul, think again. You might as well tell the truth immediately, even when it hurts you or your partner.
Being honest about everything and saying what you mean builds a strong foundation.
Trust and relationships are built by the little things; the small acts, moments and gestures that are little deposits or investments in a relationship. -Brene Brown
How to start: Think of a secret you’ve been hiding for years. Talk openly about it without fear of judgment. Be candid.
5. Compassion for each other
Let's take it from the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, known for his teachings on mindful and compassionate living.
He says there are 2 keys to compassionate communication.
The first is deep listening. When we listen deeply, we help our partner suffer less. When we are emotional, we cannot listen.
As long as compassion is present, you can listen with equanimity. -Thich Nhat Hanh
The second is loving speech. Speaking with kind and respectful words makes up speech that lifts others up.
How to start: In your next conversation, give 100% attention without interrupting. Ask questions when your partner is done talking.
6. Willingness to work for compatibility
Most relationships begin with attraction. Most couples confuse this with being compatible.
Author and modern-day philosopher Alain de Botton argues that compatibility isn't something you begin with. Couples must strive to become compatible. It's not an automatic quality of a relationship.
The partner truly best suited to us is not the one who miraculously happens to share every taste but the one who can negotiate differences in taste with intelligence and good grace. -Alain De Botton
Strive to become the right person for yourself and your partner.
How to start: Ask your partner how you can get better at anything that makes him or her feel special.
7. Individual interests
It isn’t selfish to have desires, ambition, and dreams. What's selfish is having them and not sharing or talking about them with your partner. It could be as simple as playing video games or spending the weekend exploring Colorado by yourself.
Entrepreneurs Tom and Lisa Bilyeu, together for over 20 years, use this strategy to keep their intimacy and passion strong. Every week, they set aside time for their individual selfish desires. There are no limits to what these can be.
Fill your cup and do what you want. You will go back to your partner with renewed appreciation.
How to start: Make a list of your selfish desires and read the list to each other.
Calling each other everyday matters. Saying "I love you" before going to sleep matters. Sending gifts on birthdays matter.
Thoughtful gestures don’t need to be grand, they only need to be repeated.
Consistency beats intensity. -Simon Sinek
Being consistent is a way of showing that you remember, you are committed, and you are present.
A great way to create consistency is establishing routines or rituals as a couple.
How to start: Identify your daily, weekly, or monthly routine and see which ones make you feel most loved.
To wrap up, here are the 8 things every long-distance couple should have:
- Open communication about difficult topics
- Something to look forward to
- A plan to close the gap
- Complete trust for one another
- Compassion for each other
- Willingness to work for compatibility
- Individual interests
Long-distance couples miss a lot of opportunities to get to know each other, unlike couples who live in the same city or house. That’s a fact.
It’s inevitable to idealize your partner because he or she is far away. The distance also makes it easier to make assumptions.
Having or working on these 8 things can help minimize these and reveal what's underneath. More important, they help in giving couples a good dose of reality.