curiousmeredith: Secrets to a long distance relationship
With two years experience of being in an 'intercontinental relationship', Belgium expat Meredith shares her secrets to creating a drama-free, long distance relationship.
I've been in an ‘intercontinental relationship' for the past two years. As of right now, I'm two months into our dreaded separation period. Often with international relationships it's inevitable that a time will come where one person will have to leave. It could be for variety reasons but usually it's the big ones – family, money, or career.
My partner and I have no intention of throwing in the the towel; we have built a solid foundation during our time together, and are determined to make it work while we're apart. However, it is difficult to find that ‘long distance groove' after spending months living together. For some of us, it's more difficult than the first separation because the relationship is gradually moving towards becoming a family unit.
I find the first month apart to be the hardest. It's important to find a stable routine early on to keep some normalcy to your relationship. Below, I've listed a few strategies to help couples out there that are floundering in the deep waters of a distance relationship. From the past two months, we've learned some valuable lessons that could help some other international couples turn their long distance period from barely treading water to a steady 'stay-afloat' in no time.
• Establish a reliable communication method
Ask, "Do both of us have a reliable Internet connection?" More often than not, it will not work how you envisioned. Not too long ago I was swearing at my router and close to throwing my smart phone at the wall. My only deterrent was realising it was still my relationship lifeline. Instead, be calm and plan back-up methods.
Try to work out a steady schedule of when you're both available. After two weeks of struggle and frustration, I noticed a regular pattern of when our paths crossed via phone or Internet that worked for both our schedules. In between those meetings, send each other love notes or share links of fun videos and photos.
• Try to keep it light
Drama is bad, very bad, for distance couples and always talking about how much you pine for each other will just make it harder. Talk about subjects that you would normally chat about in person. Make jokes, share mundane everyday activities, and reminisce about happy memories.
• Create a shared activity
I'm talking about a private book club, movie club, or Internet scavenger hunt just for the two of you. No one else. This creates a strong feeling of interconnectivity and working towards something together.
• Find a comfortable way to maintain intimacy
Just because you two are miles apart does not mean that the physical side of your relationship has been put on the backburner. Have a discussion of each other's needs and wants and find a happy medium that is comfortable for both. Preferably, create this plan before you leave each other. It could be a few coy, intimate photos or Skype sex – it all depends on each person's comfort level.
• Care for your own health: mentally, physically, and emotionally
Once I start to feel run down, tired and lonely, long-distance feels like a tragic and dire situation. If these feelings continue, it puts strain on my relationship because my partner feels helpless that he can't comfort me or vice versa. Taking care of my own physical and mental health is one of the best measures to remain positive, calm, and patient.
• Maintain balance & focus
The key to a strong long-distance relationship is absolute trust. If one partner does not feel secure in the relationship it will crumble quickly. Both must be honest with each other; share concerns but also be reasonable. Each person will have to accept that life moves quickly in between family, friends, and work. Make time for each other but don't overextend yourself. Remain focused on your goals as a couple as well as reuniting in the future. Eventually, it will all fall into place.
Meredith has been on the move since being bitten by the travel bug in 2009. She later took up residence in Belgium, where she finally learned to cook, soaked up European culture and discovered the finer aspects of beer and wine. She now works as a freelance writer and communications specialist. Follow her adventures and discoveries on curiousmeredith, get your tweet on, or connect via her Facebook page.
Photo credit: Joris Janssen (photo 1), cuddlesaur (photo 2).
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