One of the great (and sometimes frustrating) things about meeting someone special and starting a relationship is that we never know when or how it’s going to happen. No matter how hard we try to control the situation either out in person or online, many times connections happen in ways we least expect, such as meeting someone from another country or far away city.
When these long distance connections do happen, chatting via messenger or video for too long can really strain both the relationship and your patience. But, how do you make keep the fire alive when it’s physically not possible to be together as often as you’d like?
These tips can help you start and maintain a long distance relationship:
Tip #1: Fuel the fire
Since face-to-face time with your new (or old) interest is limited, the best way to build a burning long distance connection is to continually think of new ways to share common interests. Ask deeper and detailed questions about his hobbies, interests, work, family and friends. Share the details of your life as well and don’t shy away from showing your true personality by going out and discovering things both he and you might by interested in. For instance, start your own film club. Arrange to see the same film then schedule an after cinema re-cap. Keep a video or pic gallery such as a Tumblr, Instagram or Pinterest just for you two based on a shared hobby. Plan a trip together (even if it’s not possible to take it at the moment). Find hotels together, discuss what tours you’ll book and how you’ll spend your holiday. These are only few examples of ways you can enhance your existing connection while keeping an interest in each other from a distance.
Tip #2: Read between the lines
Body language is an important component to any personal relationship. Both what we say and don’t say can show through the way we carry our bodies, including our eyes, our movements and gestures. Body language isn’t always passive, meaning that we move our bodies without our awareness. Body gestures can also be used as signals to our partners. Since your relationship is long distance, many of your bodily cues will not be visible unless it is through video chat. And even then, video doesn’t always translate what can be seen in person. This is why it is important to develop a greater sensitivity to other cues, such as verbal cues, or to listen more intently to what your partner is “saying without saying”.
Notice the way in which he phrases words or the inflection of his voice on the phone. Tune into his mood as well as what he’s trying to communicate. It’s much more difficult to gauge a person’s interest or assess their emotions from behind a computer screen or mobile phone. Things can easily get misconstrued or may simply go unnoticed. Video chat as mush as possible. If something solicits an emotional reaction from you, ask him to clarify before jumping to conclusions. Text and chat may help push the conversation forward, but they leave emotion and inflection behind.
Tip #3: Make plans (often)
If you’re anything like me, the more that I like someone, the more time I want to spend with them. It’s not always easy getting together, depending on how far you live from each other. Make plans that fit both of your budgets and schedules. And make these plans often! A distant connection can flat line quickly, especially if there wasn’t a strong enough bond established in the beginning. Keep the sparks alive by making real contact as often as possible.
Tip #4: Manage expectations
You may feel a spark when you first meet someone or hang on every word he’s typed into a chat window, but nothing can replace the tell-all affects of person-to-person energy. The connections you feel while communicating from a distance may not feel the same once you spend more time face-to-face. Keep an open mind and stay open to the possibilities. Embrace the ways your dynamics shift and be comfortable in this next phase of your relationship. Also, long distance relationships can be extremely taxing on the emotions of both individuals. There’s nothing worse than longing to be with someone that you can’t touch or speak with. Sometimes the stress of being apart can overtake the connection that’s being built. Keep checking in with each other.
Tip #5: Be patient. Crawl before you pack up
Long distance relationships are easier to start than they are to maintain, especially if the relationship isn’t well established. In order to survive, the idea of a future together must outweigh the strain of being apart temporarily. Take your time getting to know each other. Discuss future plans, but don’t move too quickly. Remember, person-to-person energy is far different than technology-based communication. So, be sure about direction of your relationship before uprooting your life and making long-term plans.
Tip #6: Enjoy the process
Long distance relationships are difficult, but they can work for an extended amount of time. Few that I have experienced or witnessed have survived on a permanent basis, but the ones that thrive on the momentum to be together can be quite successful in the interim.
Enjoy the process of getting to know each other. Be creative in the ways you can interact. You might also want to take the time you are apart to work on self-improvement. Keep in mind that no relationship—long distance or not—can fulfill or replace personal deficits. The most successful relationships are ones where both individuals take time to improve their own lives. Fill the gaps and enjoy the process of getting to know each other. The future is unknown to anyone, but you can enjoy the process toward what’s next.
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