Falling in love is not difficult. What matters the most is how to make the relationship happy, healthy and successful throughout. Romantic relationships are important and fulfilling for your happiness and wellbeing. According to a study, Harvard study of adult development, conducted for 75 years, it was concluded that good relationships keep you healthier and happier, and it is the quality of your relationship that matters not the number of relationships, friends, etc. So today is about Long distance relationships.
Distance means so little, when someone means so much. “They gave each other a smile with a future in it.”- Ring Lardner
Long-distance relationships were not so easygoing in older times. However, with more technological advancements nowadays you fall in love even at a distance. It has become easier to keep in contact and establish relationships even without meeting the other individual in person. A long-distance relationship comes with its own set of difficulties. It is no secret that long-distance relationships are not easy to manage. In order to understand and overcome the difficulties, you need to understand why do you get involved in relationships in the first place.
Self-awareness is a very important aspect to make a relationship work. Let be a little self-aware first. Firstly, find out what are “my needs”? But be aware that what you need is different from what you want. A need is a condition required for human life. And want is simply what you prefer to have.
Needs can be divided into 3 broad categories-
- physical (oxygen, physical safety, water)
- psychological (pleasure, security, self-esteem, identity, security) and
- social needs ( affiliation, intimacy, acceptance, attachment).
For instance, food, self-esteem, security are needs, and having pasta, wearing makeup, doing exercise, and buying property are the things you want. Having an understanding of your needs as well as your partner’s needs makes the process of communication and mutual understanding easy and healthy.
There are several challenges in long-distance love. Some of the problems couples face in romantic relationships at a distance are:
Financial strain due to travels is a real challenge. You or your partner might not be financially stable to travel the distance often and this might cause a rift between a couple if either of the partners is not understanding. Also, different time zones, weather, and activities are some challenges. Deciding when to go and meet your partner in person sometimes becomes challenging. Often the time clash proves to be a difficulty. It might be the case that the date and time you choose to meet up might not be a convenient time for your partner and this could cause drift in the relationship.
Conflicts are not specific to long-distance relationships but they are part of every relationship. Distance adds new problems to the mix already existing. Major reasons for conflict to arise are miscommunication, spending less time together, forcefully doing something for your partner. Another reason could be the effort to keep the relationship going is many times one-sided.
3. High expectations/ unreasonable expectations
You tend to fantasize about the time when you will meet your partner in person and in physical proximity. Maintaining high expectations most of the time ends up creating differences if those expectations are not met. Sometimes the expectations are unreasonable which not only affects the person who has these expectations but the partner is also affected which created a sense of pressurization.
For example, it’s Valentine’s Day in two days and Anna (who lives in Delhi) asked David (who lives in Bangalore) to come and visit her. David tried to explain to Anna that he has to take his mother to the hospital for ongoing treatment on that day and it might not be possible to travel all the way. But Anna is not ready to understand and is demanding him to come and meet her anyhow. This leads to conflict between the couple.
What would you do if you were Anna or David?
Trust is probably the most common problem. Partners in long-distance relationships are more prone to mistrust. The lack of trust many times leads to partners growing apart mentally, and this causes more harm than physical distance. Cheating is another common worry in a lot of long-distance relationships. Some major reasons that could lead to cheating could be lack of loyalty, loneliness, unmet sexual needs, and lack of emotional connection.
How to Manage long-distance relationships and conflict.
1. Most of the issues in any relationship not only long-distance relationships arise from lack of communication and miscommunication. Both the partners should be able to express and understand their own as well as each others’ needs and emotions. The capacity to listen and understand can often be more important than expression. Communication is never a one-way process. It is not just about conveying one’s message but also about listening and understanding your partner’s needs and emotions.
Trust is developed in part by understanding each other. Careful listening is an important element in building trust. Another key element to receive messages properly in communication is signifying acts. Signifying acts are one’s behaviors/actions that can convey implicit or explicit messages. An example of signifying act could be showing affection to your partner by sending him/her flowers he/she loves just to let him/her know that you were thinking about him/her.
The ability to communicate the facts, ideas, needs, and emotions (expression) is as much important as receiving in communication. Make sure you assess both your own and your partner’s needs and work towards a solution that matches each.
2. Major reason behind the conflicts is unmet needs. Proper communication could help to overcome and avoid conflicts. Some other things that can help in managing differences and conflict are:
- Creating a win-win situation.
Coming to negotiation or decision that benefits both the partners could help managing differences. A simple example could be, your partner is free around 5 pm and wants to video call you at that time but you get free around 7 pm. This is leading to arguments between both of you. You might feel he is not respecting your work and time. This could be solved by fixing a time to video call which benefits both of you and makes your partner understand how important your work is and you can’t skip your work to talk during that time unless it is urgent.
- Try to maximise the similarities
If the differences are too much, talking about your childhood experiences and trying to maximize the similarities could help. Find a common ground explore the similarities. Try considering the differences as something new to learn about each other.
3. Another reason behind conflict and differences in long-distance relationships could be a lack of intimacy. Not just physical intimacy but emotional intimacy also. This lack of intimacy could be due to fear of intimacy. Some people are afraid of opening up or connecting on an intense or deep level. Intimacy can open you up to potential hurt, shame, guilt trauma, or sadness. Here are a couple of suggestions if you are looking to build intimacy.
- Show to support! When your partner knows that they can rely on you for support during times of need, trust will follow.
- Maintain your own personhood and individuality. Creating a ‘safe space’ between you and your partner helps. This space should be conceptualized in an open conversation to make sure that you and your partner are on the same page.
- Consider your and your partner’s goals. If either of you is mainly seeking stability and comfort, pursuing high degrees of intimacy may prove difficult. This is because growing intimacy entails exploring each other’s dark sides and undergoing some forms of transformation.
The journey of a long-distance relationship can be challenging at times and will likely have a significant effect on your personal self.
Psychologists as mental health care providers play a major role in understanding biological, behavioral, and social factors that influence relationships. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, the Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psychowellness Center, is a trained professional clinical psychologist, having more than 36 years of experience in all kinds of relationship issues and related therapeutic interventions.
Furthermore, TalkToAngel online relationship and mental health services under him put your needs first. They can help you with flexible appointments, personalized and customized intervention plans all at the tip of your fingers.
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