Rules of the Road: 
The Long Distance Relationship Survival Guide

Have A Relationship Plan for the Future

One of the most common mistakes couples make entering into long distance relationships is not having a plan. Couples just hope everything will turn out right, and that love will conquer all...but love is not enough.  In long distance relationships you have to be willing to make sacrifices and plan for how to manage those sacrifices. Ask yourself and your partner:

  • What do you want to accomplish in our partnership? 
  • What are our goals and what is our time frame in meeting those goals? 
  • How financially reasonable is it to have a long distance relationship?
  • How will you talk about changes in the plan?

Keep in mind that you four basic options: 

  • She moves to him
  • He moves to her 
  • You both move to another place
  • You both stay living in two different  towns, states, countries

Start talking about it as soon as you realize that you want to be together. The biggest mistake you can make in a long distance relationship is to let the communication breakdown by not having the difficult yet important conversations.

Define Your Relationship

One of the first things you should do with your long-distance partner is to agree on what the relationship will be going forward: 

  • Are you going to be just friends? 
  • Intimately connected when it's convenient? 
  • Are you free to date other people, but remain sexually exclusive with each other?
  • Does this have the makings of a real and solid love affair? 

Determining limits is very importance, because as things get difficult, it will help ground the two of you if you know the boundaries of your relationship. It will also help prevent heartache later because you will both be clearer about where you stand.

Meet Regularly

Plan monthly (in person) meetings, include some activities, like town visits, museums, and a weekend in a fancy hotel, etc. Make it a celebration, but take into consideration that you may not be able to put your day to day tasks on hold every time you meet.

This time together is something you can look forward to. Remember that you get a deeper connection when all the senses are engaged by the touch, feel and scent of your partner. You don’t get scent with email or skype, or that initial wow you feel inside when you see your love.

Use Technologies to Communicate

  • Text or video chat each other every day.
  • Use Skype or something similar to talk to each other for free. You can watch a movie together while simultaneously talking on Skype. Cyber-dating has come a long way. You can watch a movie together remotely or take a virtual tour of a museum or art gallery.
  • Use digital photographs and videos of your daily activities and send them via e-mail, snap chat or instagram.

Have some boundaries around how you communicate using technology. Expectations are high for an instant response, which cannot always happen, and when you don’t get it it may cause some conflict and anxiety.

Write Extensive and Intimate E-mails

Push yourself to open up as completely as you can. 

  • Write about your inner state
  • What you are feeling 
  • What you dream about
  • What your hopes are

As a guide: describe in your e-mails your inner state and in your phone-calls your outer state. Writing is more intense than verbal communication and allows you to be more intimate. This will help create a more connected bond between the two of you.

Long distance relationships have a greater chance of success if both of you are completely honest and congruent. Don’t pretend you are someone you are not. 

Send A Written Letter Once In A While

There are amazing feelings when you look in your mailbox and find a letter from your love. This is a pleasure we often forget about in these modern times; not to mention that it can be very romantic.

Beware Of Jealousy

Trust is the antidote to jealousy. If you have issues with trust or trusting your partner this will shake the very foundation of any long distance relationship

Jealousy is a very unsafe emotion and can threaten every long distance relationship. Jealousy is commonly a lack of trust and understanding. It very often reveals insecurities and bad experiences in other relationships. The keyword here is simply: trust. You cannot control and observe your partner; you only can have faith in your relationship and in the things you build together in the times you had. 

Avoid Risky “Situations”

As mentioned before, trust is essential. If you completely trust your partner and also have faith in your relationship, you can pretty much do what you want without endangering your relationship. Honestly avoid temptations that could distract you from each other.

Stay Positive and Exercise Patience

Make the assumption that your partner loves you and cares about you. Challenge negative thoughts about your partner, whether you read something in his/her e-mails or you disliked how he/she made a troubling comment on something. Don’t interpret too much in it. The problem with non-face-to-face communication is the lack of facial expression. It is so easy to misinterpret but unfortunately much harder to trust and stay positive.

Being patient can be really tough! One of the pitfalls in long-distance relationships is the waiting. Find things to do to occupy your time. If your career or your children do not keep you busy enough, get involved in some volunteer work or maybe go back to school. The key is to avoid weighing down your long-distance conversations with whining or unrealistic demands, solely because you are bored or missing the other person.

Give Encouragement

Giving support is important in any relationship. Make it a habit to frequently ask how things are going - with work, friends or family; get curious and then proceed to encourage your partner in those areas where they need support. Encouragement, assistance and praise work well over email, too. It's also a good idea to "smile over the phone" as much as possible. A good mood from you on days when your partner may be feeling especially needy can make both of you feel better.

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Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling Serving  
Highland Park, Lake Forest, Deerfield, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Julienne B. Derichs LCPC


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