Maintaining Healthy Long-Distance Relationships

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Back in March, during the fast-paced transition to social distancing, many of us found ourselves unable to receive the closure needed before switching to a virtual environment. For the majority of us, we did not know that the last time we saw our friends and loved ones would be the last time for quite a while.

For those of us living in residence, we were encouraged to move out. In addition to being advised not to see individuals from other households, it was not uncommon to be physically unable to see others due to distance.

Fast forward to this week, with gradual reopening of certain businesses in some regions, some more interactions have been allowed again. While some couples have been able to reunite after months apart, others may still be unable to see each other due to distance or additional health concerns.  

Couples suddenly found themselves in a long-distance relationship without any warning or preparation. Whether five minutes or five hours apart, it was a change to the relationship. Long-distance relationships are commonly painted as being difficult and exhausting. This outlook is inaccurate, and in reality, there can be lots of success in long-distance relationships. In fact, majority of relationships undergo a period of long-distance at some point.

So, if you’ve found yourself thrown into long-distance due to recent events, no need to panic. We’re going to cover some of the most influential factors of managing a successful long-distance relationship.

Communication

It is not uncommon for miscommunication to flourish through texting and social media platforms. This can lead to a number of difficulties in a long-distance relationship. Here are some tips to help avoid miscommunication while interacting virtually.

  • Girl textingFocus on becoming familiar with your partner’s communication style over text. Being able to read texts in their voice can help avoid incorrect interpretations and assumptions about the meaning behind their messages.
  • Take advantage of features available for text messaging. Using emojis can help convey emotions, and voice recordings are an effective alternative to text since your partner can hear your tone of voice and more accurately interpret emotion. 
  • Establish a healthy routine and schedule. When navigating a long-distance relationship, it can feel difficult to find time to call your partner regularly. It can be beneficial to agree on a set time each week to call each other, in an effort to maintain healthy communication. 

It is also important to recognize when communication may be failing. This can happen when you and your partner are communicating less frequently and responses start to become shorter. Being able to recognize these warning signs can help you reach out to your partner and initiate a conversation about your concerns and work together to come up with solutions.

Intimacy

Couple holding handsFor many, physical intimacy is an important part of a romantic relationship. For long-distance relationships, being able to engage in physical intimacy may not be possible all of the time. There are a number of alternative forms of intimacy for long-distance couples to engage in, allowing both partners to embrace more intimate activities.

While masturbation and the use of solo sex toys are one form of personal intimacy, there are other intimate activities that partners can participate in together. Before initiating any of these, it is important to have a discussion with your partner regarding consent and boundaries.

You and your partner may agree to try sexting as a way to maintain physical intimacy. This can include using text messages, photos, or videos that can be sent through text, apps, and live video calls. When engaging in these activities, it is important to be aware of how you are feeling and recognize your comfort level; this can help ensure trust. Remember that consent is fluid and can be given or withdrawn at any time.

Support

If you find yourself struggling while trying to maintain a healthy long-distance relationship, there are a number of support resources available to you. Individual counselling can be an incredibly helpful support that is available through Counselling Services. You can also reach out to friends and family, talk to others who have experience with long-distance relationships, and access a number of reputable resources online. When experiencing something new and challenging, it is important to remember to prioritize yourself and your own self-care; do not sacrifice your own health by trying to cope alone. Your partner is likely to be feeling similar emotions, so reaching out to them to talk about how you are feeling has the potential to improve communication, intimacy, and support all at the same time.

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