Long distance relationships are certainly challenging and require discipline and focus if they’re going to succeed. It’s not an arrangement that you want to go into lightly. If you’ve met someone who you think has long-term potential, then by all means jump in. But follow these guidelines to make sure you have every chance of making it work.
1) Set up a finish line
Don’t enter into a long-distance relationship is there’s no end date to this arrangement. You can absolutely overcome geography for a certain period of time, but it can’t go on forever. Either you will need to move to them, or they will need to come to you. Regardless, be clear that this long-distance situation will be over on a certain date, and that you’ll be together full time.
2) Establish rules and expectations
This type of relationship is only going to work if you’re on the same page and have clear rules and expectations. You need to set up times to skype, phone and text. Understand what’s expected in terms social media (e.g Facebook, photo posts, Instagram, Snap chat). Be clear on time-zones and best opportunities to connect. Be black and white about exclusivity, and be open and transparent about the details of your day/ week.
3) Bring up issues immediately and avoid mixed messages
One of the great challenges with this style of relationship is that you can stew on issues and worries, and send mixed messages through limited communication opportunities. So make sure that if you have any concerns or insecurities, raise them immediately in order to clear up any confusion. Also, beware of vague texts, messages, facebook comments, posts and updates. Always be as clear as possible with all your messaging so you can avoid miscommunication.
4) Remember important calendar dates
Do some prep work and get out a calendar and mark down all important upcoming calendar dates for the year ahead. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, Xmas, New Year, deaths, national holidays etc. You want to make a point of remembering these occasions and doing something special so you both feel connected and special.
5) Set up regular visits
Even though you’ll be apart most of the time, make sure you prioritise catching up face to face wherever possible so that you can keep your connection strong and your intimacy alive. Set up week-end visits, annual holidays, and special anniversary trips where you can be together and increase your motivation to carry on the long-distance relationship. Also – put your partner first during these visits rather than over-committing to seeing friends.
John Aiken, RSVP dating and relationship psychologist, as seen on the hit show Married At First Sight, and on Ch 9’s Today show, Today Extra and A Current Affair. He is a best-selling author, regularly appears on radio and in magazines, runs a private practice in Sydney, and is a sought after speaker. (www.johnaiken.com.au)