Long Distance Relationships

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 in long-distance relationship, no need to panic. We’re going to cover some of the most influential factors of managing a successful long-distance relationship.

Communication

Girl textingIt 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.

  • Focus 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.


How to Be a Better Ally: A Non-Exhaustive List of Resources

Here are some of the ways you can continuously work to be a better ally for the LGBTQ+ community.

We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.

GEORGE TAKEI

Pride flag

Educate Yourself

One of the most important things you can do is consistently and actively educate yourself on LGBTQ+ rights and history. This can involve many different things, such as listening to the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals, learning about gender identity and sexual orientation, watching informative LGBTQ+ documentaries and movies, and becoming familiar with the terms and definitions commonly used within the community.

It can be overwhelming when trying to figure out where to start, but the most important thing is that you do start. Why not try researching some of these important LGBTQ+ topics:

Practice Inclusive Language

Practicing inclusive language, such as the proper use of pronouns and gender-neutral language, is an incredibly important tool to help ensure allyship and respect. Here are some resources to help you learn how to be respectful and understanding of others’ identities, names, and pronouns:

Actively Show Support

There is always something you can do to show your support and allyship, no matter how big or small. Call out homophobic and transphobic language, share informative and inclusive resources on social media to help educate others, and be present at LGBTQ+ events, such as Pride. Use your voice to show your support and be unapologetically loud when it comes to addressing and challenging discrimination and injustice, both in your own community and on a global scale. We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the gay rights movement, but the fight for equality and inclusivity isn’t over yet.  

Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it’s a good place to start.

JASON COLLINS

 

 Finding a Sense of Belonging 

    Students chatting in a common areaWellbeing and a sense of belonging go hand in hand. When we talk about belonging, we express it as a feeling of being an important member of a group. Without the feeling of belonging there is no wellbeing, also known as the state of being comfortable, healthy and happy. It is normal to struggle sometimes when it comes to finding a connection, but there are ways to build a sense of belonging!

    Belonging creates a sense of empowerment that allows us to overcome obstacles and bounce back. The feeling of belonging is often perceived as a basic need because it motivates us and allows us to feel safe. When it comes to a new environment, it can be hard to feel like you are a part of it. With active effort and patience, creating a sense of belonging is achievable.

    How to Build a Sense of Belonging

    • Concentrate on ways you are similar to others rather than what makes you different from them
    • Work on accepting people even if they have different ideas and beliefs than your own
    • Say yes to opportunities that help you meet other people
    • Find a fun social group through a community with common interests such as clubs on campus
    • Volunteer to deepen your connection to the community by finding a volunteer position you are passionate about
    • Build stronger relationships with those you are close to by calling them to connect or making plans to meet up
    • Find people you are comfortable with rather than trying to become more likable by a certain group

    A sense of belonging won’t come overnight. Keep practising these tips and remember to be kind to yourself. If you feel like you need extra support, contact Counselling Services at 519-888-4567 ext. 32655.


    Making Friends and Finding Your Community

    A sense of belonging to a greater community can improve your motivation, health, and happiness. Studies demonstrate that a sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. That is, if you don't feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles.  

     

    If you are feeling lonely or like you don’t belong it is important to remember:

    • You are not alone – It is common to feel like you don’t belong, especially after starting something new like a new job, or a new university program
    • Don’t give up – Everyone has the opportunity to find belonging.  Don’t give up yet, community may start with the next person you meet. 
    • It gets better – Even if you feel like you don’t belong right now, does not mean this will be forever. 

    Tips for building a sense of belonging wherever you are:

    1. Say yes to new opportunities. If you take a risk and try something new, you might meet new people or find a new place you belong.
    2. Be open and approachable. Try to be empathetic, trustworthy, and compassionate and people will be more drawn to you.
    3. Set achievable expectations. Go easy on yourself and practice self-kindness. Despite what you see on social media, most people have a small group of close friends. Don’t feel like you need to achieve hundreds of close friendships.
    4. Monitor your thoughts. Keep track of your thoughts and reframe negative thoughts.
    5. Find the common ground. Look for similarities between yourself and people you meet not differences. Finding commonalities can help you empathize with other people and help people bond with you.

    A sense of belonging won’t come overnight. Keep practising these tips and remember to be kind to yourself. If you feel like you need extra support, contact Counselling Services at 519-888-4567 ext. 32655.


    Healthy Relationships

    Relationships can be exciting and fulfilling. From acquaintances to romances, there is the potential that relationships can add enjoyment to our lives. Even though our goal is to have healthy relationships, there are unhealthy relationships to be aware of. Although no relationship is perfect, a healthy relationship should bring you more happiness than stress in your life.

    So what does a healthy relationship look like? Some common characteristics of a healthy relationship include:

    • Feeling good about yourself and about your relationship
    • Mutual respect
    • Trust
    • Honesty
    • Fairness/equality
    • Good communication

    For romantic relationships, here are 7 key tips to forming and maintaining a healthy relationship

    1. Respect: Respect yourself and respect your partner. Each person has their own wishes and feeling that have value. Make your partner aware that you are keeping their opinions in mind.
    2. Consent: Consent for any sexual activity must be freely given. Check with your partner and make sure you are both willing, comfortable and in agreement to continue every single time there is a sexual encounter.
    3. Commitment: Invest time into the relationship to make communication easier and to build trust.
    4. Communication: Open and honest communication is the foundation to any relationship. Choose an appropriate time to discuss something that may be bothering you, it may also be better to discuss difficult things face to face to avoid any miscommunication.
    5. Supportive: Encourage each other to be best versions of yourselves that you both can be. Being supportive also means listening and being there for someone during the difficult times in life when people may need extra support. But remember, take care of yourself and be aware the degree of support you are capable of giving.
    6. Comfort: Being comfortable in a relationship means that you can trust your partner. By having trust, you both can discuss important topics, such as getting tested for STI’s and safe sex practices.
    7. Boundaries: Just because you are in a relationship does not mean that the relationship takes over your whole world. Remember that your relationship is just one aspect of your life and it is healthy to do things for yourself and set a level of privacy.

    Now what is an unhealthy relationship? An unhealthy relationship is based on power and control. Abuse, whether it is physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional is never acceptable. Feeling scared, humiliated, pressured, or controlled is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

    If you think your relationship is unhealthy there are resources that can help!

    • Health Services at the University of Waterloo: Call 519-888-4096
    • Counselling Services at the University of Waterloo: Call 519-888-4567 ext. 32655 
    • Sexual Violence Reponse Coordinator for the University of Waterloo: Call 519-888-4567 ext. 46869 or e-mail amanda.cook@uwaterloo.ca
    • Good2Talk: 1-866-925-5454
    • Here24/7: 1-844-437-3247
    • Waterloo Region Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre: Call (519) 749-6994 or go to the Emergency Department of St. Mary’s General Hospital

    Healthy relationship resources

    Region of Waterloo Public Health 

    Rainbow Health Ontario

    SexualityandU

    Kitchener-Waterloo Sexual Assault Support Centre