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I was wondering if you could help me out with some confusion. I have a boyfriend but we’re currently in a long-distance relationship. I’m not sure how to help us stay together, and I was wondering if you could help me with some tips or something.
Please, will you help me??
Relationships are difficult enough, but when you introduce physical distance into the equation it only amplifies the difficulty. (Below if from our e-report on Long Distance Relationships. We hope it helps.) For more e-reports on the seven most frequently asked questions, visit our e-report page.
Relationships are all about trust, which comes from experiencing life with someone day in and day out. Trust matures from the mundane—you know he’ll remember to pick up dinner and drop off your dry cleaning if you ask him to—to more extraordinary events—he remembers your birthday, he’s good at listening when you discuss a family issue, he’s willing to go with you to that uncomfortable work party because he loves you.
But the most essential attribute of trust is knowing the other person wants to, and is willing to resolve issues, rather than run the other way. And that they have your best interests in mind as they navigate the world without you in their presence.
When your partner lives 1,000 miles away, and you can’t reconnect every evening after work, with a hug and a glass of wine, it requires even more effort to keep the connection strong. Not everyone is willing to put in the extra effort. Guys seem to be guilty of this more often than women.
So the question begs to be asked: Are guys any different than women when it comes to long distance relationships?
We would say, yes and no. Guys are just as willing to commit to a serious relationship, but they’re not as willing to give a long-distance relationship a shot if they’re not 100% sure about their feelings. Whereas a woman might be willing to give it a shot, even if she’s not completely sure, just to see if the relationship can blossom into something more serious.
The guy’s take on this is not necessarily a bad thing. We see a guy’s apprehension as a good barometer for women. If your guy starts saying, “I’m not sure I can do a long distance relationship.” Or, “I’m just not built to do a long distance relationship.” What he’s really saying is, “I don’t value you or this relationship enough to put the time and energy into it.” He’s also saying, “I want regular sex. And if I can’t get it from you on a regular basis then I’m going to find it elsewhere with someone close by.” (See our e-report on Friends with Benefits.)
This sounds harsh, but wouldn’t you rather know now than five years down the road? You might as well find out you’re dating a guy who is afraid of commitment, instead of learning about this a few weeks before the wedding when he’s getting cold feet. It would be even worse if he decided he wasn’t happy or satisfied, after you were already married. Here’s an interesting idea: Maybe all women should propose a long distance relationship to see how how secure their relationship really is. It’s something to consider. (And, we’re only half-joking.)
With all this in mind, is it possible to have a “successful” long distance relationship? If so, how?
It is possible, but couples need to take four important and pragmatic steps to keep the connection strong, always with one goal in mind: Working towards being together in the same place.
Step One: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Have a discussion about how often the two of you will communicate. Will it be by phone? By text? Email? Skype? IM? And, will you communicate every day, every other day, once a week? And for how long will you talk? And at what times of the day? (You might live in different time zones. Or have very different work/school schedules.)
How the two of you compromise and work out your schedule of communication will tell you a lot about your relationship. It will be the first test to see if your relationship is strong enough to withstand the test of distance.
Step Two: You need to talk about how often you’ll visit. Who will visit whom? Will you alternate visits? And who will pay for plane flights or travel expenses? You might think this is too basic to even discuss but from our experience the minutia matters. It’s better to discuss something than be dealt a surprise you aren’t prepared for.
And please, please don’t discount face-to-face visits. These are necessary reminders why you’re putting in all that effort. Spend the money, trust us. But it should be balanced between both parties.
Step Three: You both need to express your commitment and love for each other often. You won’t be able to rely on touch or proximity when communicating how you feel about one another. You’ll be forced to communicate verbally or by words on a screen. This is NOT the time to hold back. Be expressive. In order for both of you to feel secure, you both need to reassure one another daily about your commitment. Because when it comes down to it, it is all about trust. Distance is good at boring holes in the foundation of a relationship. It can cause even the most trusting of partners to wonder if something else is going on. But if the two of you work on the relationship daily, and pay attention to how you communicate, the distance shouldn’t crumble your foundation.
Step Four: Be playful. It you’re not having regular sex, why not try phone sex, or some other creative way to connect physically? Sex is a fundamental part of every relationship, and in some ways, this aspect of your relationship is what’s most affected by the distance. We recommend doing whatever it takes to keep that particular connection strong.
Remember, longing makes the heart grow fonder. In some ways, a long distance relationship can be a perfect situation. It allows two people to focus on their careers, or other aspects of their lives, knowing that they always have something to look forward to. But keep in mind that the entire point of working so hard at a long distance relationship is to be working towards being together in the same city or town. If that’s not the goal, then you’re with the wrong partner.