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Dr. Wendy Walsh
Online dating and matchmaking have become mainstream within the past decade, making long distance relationships (LDRs) a common way to mate. Today’s economic times also play a role, distancing partners due to jobs in different cities.
In fact, according to The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, nearly 3 percent of US marriages were considered long distance and an estimated 4 to 4.5 million college couples in the US were in nonmarital LDRs. But don’t let the distance between you and your mate scare you. If you’re both committed to maintaining a relationship with the same goals, there are ways to make relationships across the map work.
So, how do you plant the seed and watch your relationship grow when you’re time zones apart? It takes a lot of tender love and care. Here are some tips to keep your long distance relationship going steady:
Emotional intimacy is the glue that binds couples together. Even though you’re not always within arm’s reach of your partner, you can still create an intimate bond. And these bonds depend more on emotional connection and communication than physical contact.
One study showed that the frequency of breakups in LDRs is not greater than that of relationships where the partners are in proximity to one another, suggesting that our needs from romantic relationships are more emotional and psychological than physical. Geographical distance can give you the time and space to build an emotionally intimate relationship. This will help you grow closer, rather than apart, and build a trusting relationship. Trust is essential in LDRs.
“It is up to your willingness to commit
to and nurture your relationship.”
Today, technology allows us to virtually connect to people who are thousands of miles away. With the click of a button, you can Skype or FaceTime your partner, creating a more intimate connection than a simple text or email could. Seeing someone while you communicate will allow you to better read their emotions and expressions.
Just being able to watch each other laugh through the glass screen of your iPad is far more intimate than an “LOL” via text. Just be sure that communication isn’t a means of checking in on one another but is rather used to stay involved with each other. And guys, even sending flowers can be done with the click of a button.
Trying to visit each other often can be a serious hurdle in LDRs. Set clear boundaries and expectations of who is visiting whom and how often you’ll visit each other. And when you are together, make it worth it. Vow to have a dinner void of all electronics so you can focus on each other. Do activities or hobbies that you share in common. Make an appearance for special celebrations like birthdays and holidays.
To prevent your LDR from hanging in limbo for too long, agree on a term. If say, by the end of one year, you are both still in love, one of you must begin making plans to move to the other’s city. This will be a prickly decision, but it’s one that must be discussed if the relationship is to evolve into something more meaningful.
These are just a few tools to help your long distance love last in today’s crazy dating world. The rest is up to your willingness to commit to and nurture your relationship, making love at a distance possible.