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Making Long Distance Relationships Work
by Joe Tracy, publisher of Online Dating Magazine

 

Being in a long distance relationship isn't easy. It requires very strong trust, commitment, guidelines, and communication. Studies show that a majority of people involved in long distance relationships eventually break up. That's why you see so many "experts" proclaiming that long distance relationships are a bad idea and don't work. Yet if you learn to master communication and set the parameters of your relationship, it can work. It's an uphill battle, but it is possible, and many people do eventually become happily married as a result of being in a long distance relationship.

A long distance relationship will be difficult and requires a strong commitment between you and your partner. The following 10 long distance relationship tips will go a long way to help you achieve a lasting love. Here they are:

1) Establish the relationship rules and parameters.
In a study of long distance relationships, Dr. Greg Guldner found that 70% of couples in a long distance relationship who did not set rules, or deal with changes, ended up breaking up within six months. This means that it is vital that you and your partner set rules and parameters to guide your long distance relationship. This includes an agreement that you will not date others, that you will communicate daily, and that you'll see each other at least once every 2-3 months in person.

2) Communicate Every Single Day
Part of a successful long distance relationship is being able to emulate patterns found in regular relationships. One of these patterns is daily communication. The evolution of the Internet is godsend for people who are in long distance relationships. Not only can you communicate via email and instant messaging for free, but you can also talk to each other through free services like Skype. And that means no more $500 a month phone bills!

3) Express Your Feelings
Learning to express your feelings to your long distance partner in email, IM, and on the phone is important for the growth and stability of your relationship. One of the ways it increases your relationship stability is by providing "reassurance" to the other person about your commitment to him/her. When you express your feelings, you are letting your partner know that you are committed to making the relationship work.

4) Send Care Packages
Every once in awhile prepare and send your long distance relationship partner a "care package". Here are several things you might consider putting in the package (not all at once, of course; pace yourself and your gifts):

Books Phone Card Hershey's Hugs
Music Video Message Hershey's Kisses
Puzzle Sweets Real Rose
Card Stuffed Animal "Preserved" Rose
Holiday Items Bottled Message Chocolate Rose
Pressed Flower Pictures of You Engraved Rose
Gift Card Jewelry "Key" to Your Heart
Bubble Bath Movie Ticket Personalized Poem

The more personalized you can make the gifts, the bigger impact it will have when received. For example, when send some pictures of you, hold a sign in one of the pictures that says "I love you, ____" (of course yours will have a name in it, not a blank line). When sending a book, make sure the book is on something your partner is passionate about and write him/her a little note on the inside cover. Do this every time you send a book. If you send music, write something specific about a song or two that makes you think of him/her. Go to the M&Ms Website and order personalized M&Ms. Even puzzles can be customized as many places now sell make your own puzzle kits. Call up a spa in his/her area and buy a certificate that the spa will mail you then you will mail to your partner!

The more personalized and creative you can be, the more impressed your partner will be at your thoughtfulness.

5) Spend Time Together While Apart
Even though your partner may live hours away, you can still experience "date nights" with him/her. For example, let's say you are both interested in seeing the latest blockbuster movie. Plan to go at the exact same time (coordinate your time zones) to see the movie then when it is over call each other to discuss it. It's fun knowing that your partner is doing the exact same thing as you at the exact same time. Even though you're apart, you're still sharing a moment "together".

6) Never Make Assumptions
Always be clear about your relationship with each other. Don't assume that your long-distance partner knows your feelings - share them. Good or bad, be clear about how you feel about the relationship. Assumptions kill many relationships, while clear communication helps relationships succeed. Perhaps Henry Winkler put it best when he said, "assumptions are the termites of relationships." Let your partner clearly know your ambitions, fears, feelings, and desires. This will allow him/her to share something deeper with you as you both work together towards mastering your communication abilities.

7) Trust One Another
Low self-esteem and a lack of trust can ruin wonderful relationships. For example, a woman I know once met this really nice, thoughtful, and sincere man. She met him via online dating - the first guy she met after spending three years "healing" from her last relationship. Unfortunately, she still carried baggage from the failure of her last relationship. Instead of recognizing this guy as different, she lumped all men into the same boat as her failed relationship. She was distrusting and insecure. In the end, she lost the guy as a result.

It's important not to draw associations between the person you are currently seeing and past failed relationships. Give the person an honest chance. I live by the philosophy that "I will fully trust a person until they give me a reason not to". This philosophy is very important in long distance relationships because if you start to lose trust and become insecure then your relationship will soon be sabotaged... by you.

8) Plan Regular Meetings
Meeting regularly is vital to the success of your long-distance relationship. As discussed in tip #1, it's important to set parameters on things like when you'll meet and how often. And when you settle on a date, it's very important that you make sure nothing interferes with it. When you cancel an in-person meeting ("My friends invited me to the coast that weekend" or "I didn't realize finals were that week") you send a strong message that the relationship is not a priority in your life. You should be canceling other events in order to see your partner. If you're allowing other events to interfere with your get-togethers, then then you might want to reevaluate why you're in a relationship.

9) Share Passions
The great thing about long-distance relationships is that you tend to get to know your partner much better than if you were physically together. As a result, you learn much more about your partner's likes, dislikes, and passions. Find something your partner is passionate about that you can get involved with. For example, maybe your partner really loves tennis and you've never played tennis. Start taking tennis lessons and discuss it with your partner. Find passions that you both can share and it will invigorate your feelings and appreciation for the relationship.

10) Surprise!
You often hear people say, "I love surprises." Surprises are fun because they are unexpected and show how thoughtful/fun a person is. Think of things you can do that will "surprise" your partner. But don't overdue it because then they'll come to expect surprises. Here are a few ideas you may want to consider:

» A classified ad in their local newspaper with a message just for them.

» An unexpected trip to see your partner.

» A video tape recording of you delivering a personal message and showing off some of your "a day in the life of me" events.

» A set of gifts that you give your partner when he/she leaves (after meeting you in person). The number of gifts correspond to the number of weeks until you see each other again. For example, if you will see each other again in eight weeks then you give your partner eight gifts, each one numbered. Every Monday morning he/she gets to open one of the gifts. It builds anticipation and increases your "thoughtfulness" skill in your partner's eyes.

Your long distance relationship can work if you put the time and effort into making it work. As Dr. Phil says, "If you're in love with somebody, you will swim the stream, you will climb the mountain, you will slay the dragon..."



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