Being in a long distance relationship is difficult, no matter how much you love each other. Two greatest struggles couples experience during that time are questions of trust and intimacy - and out of those two, so many additional problems can arise!
And though it will take hard work and effort, it definitely can be done - you can keep your relationship happy and healthy. Before quarantine, my boyfriend and I would see each other at least twice a week. But once quarantine hit, we decided to be responsible and ended up being separated for 37 long days. So I’m not only speaking from professional experience but from a personal one, too, when I say - if you follow these steps, you’re raising your chances of having a thriving relationship 1000 fold!
STEP 1: Recognize, Accept, and be Open About Your Fears and Needs
Being scared and having doubts about your relationship and your partner is a perfectly normal part of a long distance relationship. No matter how amazing your partner is, with the distance between you, you’re bound to be having some anxious thoughts from time to time. We’re all human, and whoever tells you they’ve never experienced those in any type of relationship is probably lying.
It’s okay to have those fears. It’s okay to wonder where they were, why they’re not calling you when they promised they would… But the main mistake couples make here is eating their feelings. “I don’t want to nag him and be the spitting image of a jealous girlfriend!” So you act like everything is alright and go through it without them.
Accept that you have fears and be open about them. If they aren’t ready to talk about it and simply put on a sticker saying “Overly attached girlfriend” on you for being reasonable about your feelings, well… Are they really worth fighting for?
But there's another part for you to play here, which is...
STEP 2: Recognize Your Unrealistic Thoughts and Question Them
Okay, so you’re apart from your loved one, they haven’t been calling you the entire day, so what do you do? You let your thoughts run wild.
“They must have met someone else and are on a date as we speak!”
The thing to do with thoughts like these is - question them. Ask yourself: what are some other possibilities I'm not entertaining?
Maybe they're working still and are so overwhelmed they forgot to call. Maybe they wanted to call when they come back home and then fell asleep. Perhaps they thought you promised to call them so you’re now both waiting and feeling frustrated!
Now, I’m not saying “ignore all signs and find excuses no matter what!” This isn’t about that. It’s about allowing your brain to entertain other possibilities instead of remaining stuck on the catastrophic one. We often make the mistake of equating our thoughts with facts. And the more you’re thinking the same thought, the more you’re finding - and often creating! - arguments that it’s correct.
In this exercise, try to find as many things as possible that go in favor of each of the alternatives. And once your mind is calmer, talk to your significant other and let them know how you felt after not getting that call. You’re bound to be sounding more assertive and approachable once your mind isn’t racing.
STEP 3: Ask Yourself: Do I Trust Them?
Now, the previous two steps are of great help - if you generally trust your partner. Those issues happen in any long distance relationship, but if you deep down believe that your partner isn’t the kind of person to cheat, and is honest to the core, they are pretty easily solvable through steps 1 & 2.
The greater problem arises when you don’t trust your partner. You may not have been together long enough for you to conclude they’re the image of honesty, or they may have committed adultery previously in their life. Whichever the reason, you have two options: accept them as they are and work hard on forming healthy emotions, or get out of that relationship.
If you want to give it a go, first and foremost, let your partner know about it. Don’t be shy and don’t keep it a secret - tell them you’re insecure about your relationship because of this and that. Listen to them carefully and, if they’re understanding and willing to give it a go, then you’ll have to do the more difficult part:
Accept that there's always the possibility of betrayal.
I know, it sounds horrible, right? But the fact is - you can never know these things for sure, especially if you have strong reason to doubt them. But if you’ve decided to give them a chance, the best thing to do for both your mental health and your relationship is move from the belief that says “They cannot cheat on me or I won’t be able to stand it!” to “I really hope they don’t cheat on me, but I accept that they might one day. If they do it, I’ll be feeling sad and disappointed, but I’ll be able to move on.”
The first thought keeps you stuck and forces you to constantly look for proof that they haven’t done it yet, damaging both you and your relationship. The second one, however, allows you to be more reasonable about it all and enjoy your relationship despite the possibility. And don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying “be okay with it”! I’m just saying that by accepting the possibility, you’ll more easily move on if it does happen.
Of course, ideally, you’d start this from a point of complete trust - but even if you’re not, changing your perspective might make it easier.
STEP 4: Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
Let’s be real: one of the biggest issues of long distance relationships is intimacy: kisses, cuddles, and, yes - sex.
And if you want to overcome that, stepping out of your comfort zone is a prerequisite. But before doing that, make sure you trust the other person enough. This time, I’m not talking about fidelity, but about their ability to keep things like sexts and nudes to themselves.
All hail the internet! We are now able to excite each other no matter how far away they are. If you’re not sure where to start and you don’t feel comfortable starting in the first place, as usual, pinpoint the thought that’s keeping you stuck. The feelings you’re dealing with might be anxiety or shame.
“What if they think I look ridiculous? What if I don’t know how to do it? What if they don’t like it?”
These are all valid fears, but there’s a pretty simple solution for them. Are you ready? What you need to do is, as always - let them know what your fears are! Tell them you want to do it but aren’t sure if you’d be good at it. I am somehow pretty sure you’ll get a resounding "Let's try it, I'll like it no matter what!" and a “I just want to see you and talk dirty to you, and we’ll practice together”. You might even discover they're feeling just as weird and scared, and you'll end up even stronger and closer because of it.
As a bonus advice - you can simply go to Instagram and see what the models on there are doing to make themselves look sexy. Lingerie is a sure way to feel more sexy and confident (these guys have a great choice for all sizes: https://us.chantelle.com/). Plus, you probably already know whether your partner is a legs, boobs, ass, or some other type of guy. So use the knowledge wisely and, as with everything in life - after the first time, everything becomes much easier! Oh, and don't forget: it's not only up to you to make the relationship exciting, so don't be scared to ask them to give you a lil' something, too!
STEP 5: Get Creative (And Not Just When It Comes to Sex)
When I say “get creative”, I mean all sorts of creative! You can cook together - find a recipe you both like, start at the same time, and have a friendly competition! After that, make an online date, get some candles going, grab some wine, and have a lovely evening together.
You can also play various games online, Remote Insensitivity (it’s like Cards Against Humanity, but available online) and Chess being just some of them. If you’re more into video games, Steam offers the option of remote play for certain games as well.
Using this time to get to know one another better is another great idea! Make a list of 10 questions you want to ask your significant other, plan a date night and ask away!
And of course, who could forget about movies and TV shows? There are platforms that allow you to watch it all at the same time and even chat about it while you’re at it (you can try out Hulu and their Watch Party: https://www.hulu.com/live-tv). Or you can simply get a video call going over your phones, count down the time and then put on the movie at the same time.
There’s really no excuse! We are blessed to live during the times when almost anything we want to do is doable online. We are more connected than ever and that’s especially important when it comes to long distance relationships.
STEP 6: Know When to Quit.
This may sound heartbreaking, but it’s just as important as the previous steps. It’s up to you and your partner to do your best, and as long as you’re open and putting in the hard work, chances are you’ll come out of it stronger than ever before!
But as with anything else in life, it’s also important to accept the possibility that it might not be enough. Whether the other person isn’t trying, or the love simply wears off (and it happens in any relationship, not just a long distance one), it’s important to recognize when there’s nothing more to be done and call it quits.
If you’re struggling with any part of it, you’re welcome to schedule a free first consultation with me. I offer relationship counseling and would love to help you out!