Long Distance Relationships: Do They Work?


Distance can be an obstacle to fanning the flames of love. Can a relationship survive and flourish when miles separate you and your sweetheart?

If a long-distance relationship is something you’ve never experienced, you may have to put more effort into finding your way. If you’ve been in one before, you probably know what made it successful and what extinguished the flames, turning the spark the two of you had into a smoldering campfire.

At first, you may be starry-eyed and think absolutely nothing – not even an ocean’s distance – will ever interfere with the connection you two have. That’s a good start!  But blazing fires can burn out when you let things roll along without a reality check … paying attention to what you might be neglecting or refusing to accept when two people can’t connect face-to-face on a regular basis.  


Give it Time

Try giving a new long-distance relationship a little time, like shoes you’re breaking in. By time, I don’t mean just let time go by and see what happens. Besides cruising along to see how things feel, make an effort at communicating frequently: telephone calls, text messages, emails, video chats, cards, letters.

And, just as importantly, try as often as possible to make those interactions long and meaningful conversations more than short and sweet. Bridge the distance by interacting as if you were close by or even in the next room.

Did you remember to ask about that important meeting he had? Did you share the joy she felt when she got on the scale and reached her target weight? She just finished a great book and she wants to share passages with you; are you available to spend time to listen and enjoy experiences that are important to her?

Sure, you have a life outside of your relationship – work, friends and family, obligations,  eating, sleeping, and laundry. Here’s where setting up your priorities and time management make a huge difference. Making the effort is a statement in itself to the commitment the two of you have to one another.

Close the distance gap. When you can’t be there to hold, kiss, and reassure your mate face-to-face, take the next best route: Facetime (or use your favorite video conferencing app).


When You’re Together

Have some planned activities when you do get together but keep it flexible. Planning in advance doesn’t have to mean creating an itinerary of hour-by-hour or day-by-day activities or excursions. Let things flow naturally. Go to the movies, take in a live music performance, hike in a nearby park, arrange a candlelight dinner. Sit and hold hands in the park. Mix it up. Include spontaneity. Talk!

And sure, a road trip or a vacation to some far-off exotic destination is exciting and romantic. You’re creating memories and intimacy. The important element is making the most of your time together, no matter what you’re doing and where you’re doing it.


The Effects of Absence

You know how the mind can sometimes play tricks. Doubt can set in. Maybe he hasn’t been in contact with you every few hours like he did at first. Maybe you’re creating fictional reasons why she didn’t seem as excited to hear your voice earlier that day. Maybe you’re feeling “cheated” out of a “real relationship” because you want to be there with him in person more often than she is able or wants to.

Are you depressed or sad about something in the relationship? Be diligent about keeping a level head. Be rational. Question any feelings of “neediness” as well as other feelings and behaviors that don’t “sit well” with you. Allow them to come to the surface and examine them instead of burying them in your subconscious.

Talk to yourself and to your mate directly and honestly about what you’re feeling. If you’re acting a little insecure or even paranoid about something your mate said or didn’t say, share that. Be careful not to overgeneralize their actions and behavior, steering you in a direction where you question everything, leading you to possibly question the relationship as a whole.

Try not to overreact, making a mountain out of a molehill, when a couple things upset you that might be able to be resolved in a no-holds-barred discussion. Also, keep in mind that it doesn’t automatically have to be the distance itself causing you to feel the way either of you feels and acts. Issues come up even when distance isn’t a factor.

On a more positive note, consider that distance can strengthen the love and desire you feel for each other. Consider that the time you spend together is precious and that you cherish them and look forward to the next time.


Aligned Goals

Having similar goals is so important when you’re working at having a solid relationship – relationship goals as well as professional goals. Do yours and theirs mesh? Do either of you travel a lot for work? Are you each comfortable with the hours you each spend working and doing other things? Do you both agree that you can survive a long-distance relationship indefinitely?  Do you both feel that converting to a not-so-distant relationship would help the relationship grow?

In other words, do you both want the distance to be temporary or permanent? If temporary, do you both agree there are some built-in benefits to spending your temporary time apart? Discuss them. Examine the differences in how you each feel about those benefits.


Different Strokes

You are an individual with a distinct personality. Another thing to consider is that distance doesn’t alter your personality or theirs. But, geographic distance between you could be keeping you from really getting to know your mate. Thoroughly talk about what you like and don’t like, how you like to interact, past experiences that might be having an effect on how you and your mate relate to one another, behave with one another – hot buttons to warm fuzzies.

You’ll want to understand what feelings, expectations, desires, and personality traits might be causing certain feelings or behaviors to surface.


An Investment

Not to put a damper on the uplifting feeling of love, intimacy, and deep friendship, I like to think of a long-distance relationship as an investment – a love investment of time and attention. Nurture it, be patient, pay attention to fluctuations, encourage it and watch it grow.

There are as many reasons why long-distance relationships work as there are reasons why they don’t. My point is, you and your mate have a lot of control over its success or failure. Having desire and commitment can make geographic boundaries irrelevant.