A lot has happened since Jane Austen told us in her novels what it was like to have a suitor several .counties north until David Verdaguer and Natalia Tena caught up via Skype in ‘10,000 km’. We all question any long-distance relationship and are quick to be cynical about it when it comes up in conversation, but it’s a reality that nonetheless works for many people. Or that it has to work for sure. We might think that, in this age of emails, social networks and WhatsApp, the fact that your partner lives in another city or another country is no big deal, but perhaps it’s not so much the physical distance that’s important as the sentimental one
How can you reinvent yourselves so that the flame doesn’t go out (an essential metaphor in these cases) even though you live thousands of kilometres away? What emotional exercise should you do if this possibility ever arises? The ‘Business Insider’ website has asked itself the same questions and has consulted experts Shannon Smith and Celeste Headlee to answer them. Take note of these five tips.
- No relationship is perfect
This much is clear, isn’t it? For many couples, starting a long-distance relationship is a struggle. For others, however, and especially those who have started as such, it’s something that has to be dealt with one way or another. So don’t panic and be patient, especially in the first few months. “You can expect some headaches, and that’s to be expected.
- Stop with the WhatApps and call
Experts often stress that the most important thing in these cases (and also in couples who see each other every day, of course) is transparency and trust. “The key to making a long-distance relationship work is good communication, and that means talking on the phone,” explains Celeste Headlee, and she insists: despite all the technological advances we enjoy today, don’t just WhatsApp, make a call. “Emails should never be a replacement for the human voice. Studies show that it is the voice that humanises us and makes us empathise with others. So call.
- Don’t cut corners on details
Another way to maintain an emotional connection with your partner, according to Headlee, is to be detailed, even if distance seems to be an impediment. Sound frivolous? Then the other person will know that you’re attentive to what might make them happy at the moment. It’s not that hard: it’s about listening and showing that you are listening. “If your partner mentions that they want to read a good book, pick one from Amazon and send it to them. If he’s had a bad day, order a special dinner and have it delivered,” she suggests.
- Suggest plans (even if they are virtual)
OK, this may be a bit of a head-scratcher. The big obstacle in a long-distance relationship is that you can’t see each other, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make plans together. Sound crazy? You’ll have to get imaginative here, but if you think about it, it’s not that far-fetched. “Try watching films together and discussing them on your mobile phones, reading the same books, marathoning the same series. This will help create a sense of connection and shared experiences,” says Celeste Headlee.
- Finally, take good care of yourself
The last point, but by no means the most dispensable. What exactly are we talking about? To cultivate your professional life, to meet with your family and colleagues, to do sport and indulge in other hobbies, to go to the cinema to see the film of the week or the exhibition you’ve been looking forward to for so long… Learning to take care of yourself is not something that only those in long-distance relationships should do, but in your case it is especially useful. “Taking care of yourself and developing yourself will make you a better person and a better partner, and that’s key to making all relationships work. Take a course, live a healthy lifestyle, make plans with your friends,” says Shannon Smith.
“That way when you’re apart, it doesn’t feel like your life is over,” she adds. Dedicating that time and space to individual passions and hobbies will also help you create something to talk about with your partner: “Living your life will raise the level of your conversations and give you something to share with each other,” Smith adds.