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Connect
by Kim Lance, associate publisher of Online Dating Magazine

Stay Connected in Your Long Distance Relationship

Welcome to the first edition of Connect.  In Connect, it is my goal to provide strategies, tips, and insight that can help you and your partner further connect to one another through effective communication.  As we all know, building strong relationships requires time, effort and attention.  We get so much happiness and satisfaction from a good relationship!  Because of this, it is important to work with one another to successfully express our thoughts and feelings without having it backfire or take a bad turn.  In order to stay connected you must communicate effectively.  Connect will help you achieve that.  The first topic Connect will tackle is how to maintain and build togetherness during a long distance relationship. 

 

Several years back, couples in long distance relationships had to often limit the time they were able to spend talking with each other due to expensive phone bills. Today, with increased cell phone minute plans, free mobile-to-mobile, and free internet “telephone” services, it is now easier than ever to stay in touch with your relationship partner every day. Now, before you mistake this column for a Cingular or T-Mobile advertisement, let me explain why these technological advancements are an important phenomenon in the evolution of long distance relationship communication. The ability to have long conversations with your long-distance love, without having to get a second mortgage on your house, greatly increases your likelihood of growing together during your time apart.

Make Time to Talk Every Day
One of the most important steps that couples can take to protect their relationship during months (sometimes years) living in different areas is to make it a point to talk with each other every day. While this may seem a little excessive, it just might save a long distance relationship from falling apart. When a couple lives in the same town, it is much easier for one partner to understand what is going on in another partner’s life and for each partner to effectively communicate their thoughts, feelings, and dreams to one another. Couples can see each other often and can spend a lot of personal time together. This is, of course, not the case with a long distance relationship. Because long distance relationships do not have the benefit of close proximity, couples often have to work even harder at maintaining them.

Picture this: You and your significant other have an amazing, connected relationship. Then, for various reasons, you have to spend several months apart in a long distance relationship. You catch up once or twice during the week and have some long conversations every other weekend or so. When you meet up again in person things just aren’t the same. There is a void between the two of you that just can’t be filled. During your time apart, you and your partner have grown apart. While this is a depressing scenario, it can be prevented with effective time and attention put into relationship communication.

The inability to grow together over time is a common problem that comes up often in long distance relationships. As you both lead your lives in different cities, with different friends, and differing day-to-day experiences, you start to lose your connection that seemed so steady when you were living your lives together. You eventually give up on the relationship because you either feel the other person doesn’t “get” you anymore or your partner seems like a “different person” than the one you fell in love with. The only way to avoid creating such a distance between you and your partner is to work hard to make yourselves a part of each other’s life. Talking every day is one of the best ways to do this.

Share the Little Things In Life
Costly phone bills are no longer an excuse for limited one-on-one chat time with your sweetheart. While you may think that your trip to the store or your frustrating situation at work is not worth the time explaining to your partner, remember, the little things in life do matter when you look at how they can affect and change you over time. You and your partner need to share not only the large events in your lives, but also the little experiences that make up day-to-day life. It is easy to go about your day without sharing experiences with your significant other if you live in separate towns, but this is exactly why making time to talk is necessary. Prevent a potential communication gap between the two of you by setting up a time every day where both of you are available to talk, for at least an hour. If you both lead very busy lives, make it right before you go to bed or break it up into 30 minute segments on your commute to and from work. Just make sure there is enough time to share highlights of each other’s day and any other issues that may be weighing on your mind or that you may be excited to talk about.

Of course, an hour or more of phone conversation every day will have to be altered here or there due to strict time constraints, but, remember, make time for your partner just as you would have to if you lived together. Only break the talking every day rule if it is absolutely necessary. If you can fit in at least an hour of good, uninterrupted conversation the majority of days and at least a quick catch up call for those few exceptions, you are giving your relationship the time and attention it needs to strengthen and further connect the two of you emotionally even if you are separated physically. By talking every day you are far less likely to skip over the little things in life that can change you over time.

You will witness the inevitable changes in your partner, and vice versa, first hand and be a part of those changes by listening and offering advice to your loved one on a daily basis. Instead of growing apart you will fuse together as a daily support system, sounding board, and friendly listener.

Be There Through "Together Actions"
When you talk, sometimes talk as if both of your are together at that exact moment. "I'm holding your hand," "I'm stroking your hair," "I'm holding you tight". These are "together actions" that have a strong visual impact that make it feel like you are together at that moment.

By keeping up daily conversations you will further build your excitement about meeting in person and, when the time finally comes, you will feel just as connected, if not more so, than the day you kissed each other goodbye at the airport.

Additional Long Distance Relationship Tips
Here are some more key tips to maintaining a strong connection with your long distance partner:

» Care packages. The key here is to surprise your partner with a care package that he/she isn't expecting. Take time in selecting gifts they will appreciate. Write little love notes and hide them in book covers or amongst other gifts you send. Be creative, thoughtful, and original. This will help increase your bond because by investing time in the care package, you have invested time in the relationship.

» Letters. The popularity of email has drastically cut down on the number of hand-written letters people send through the mail. By taking time to handwrite a letter to your partner, you are going that extra mile to create a more personalized experience. And personalized experiences help build deeper bonds.

» Long Distance Dates. Just because you're apart, doesn't mean you can't go out on a "date" with your partner. Set up a date, time, and event that you both can participate in and talk about. For example, maybe at 7pm on Friday both of you will watch the movie, "Must Love Dogs". Then you can call each other afterwards to share your thoughts about the movie just like you would on a normal date. This can be applied to going to a movie at the theater too. Because your partner is doing it also, you are thinking about each other. And lovingly thinking about each other strengthens your connection.

By doing active things "together," you are building memories of togetherness, even though you're apart. As a result, when you're finally in each others arms for real then the strong bond you formed will be the foundation for a happy life together.




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