Keeping the spark alive and staying emotionally connected.
During these times of lockdowns and quarantine, there has been a heavy focus on how to make the most of spending extra time with your partner. 1 There are tips on how to remain intimate and connected while living in close quarters. And, of course, how to survive living in each other’s pockets without driving one another mad.
It’s true, many couples have been spending time together now more than ever. But during this strange era of travel bans and social distancing, a lot of couples have actually been kept apart. Some by a few miles, some by state, others by ocean.
Maybe you’re already in a long-distance relationship and are now apart from your loved one for much longer than expected. One month has turned into seven. Or perhaps you find yourself thrown in the midst of a long-distance relationship and are wondering how to stay emotionally connected. It can be an unnerving experience, but there are ways of maintaining a long-distance relationship.
Tips For Staying Emotionally Connected
Communication is key in any relationship but when it comes to those that are long-distance, communication is a make-or-break, do-or-die sort of thing. It’s the golden ticket to maintaining – and sustaining – your connection.
Issues arise when there are communication breakdowns – not to quote Led Zeppelin or anything – but it’s true. Miscommunications lead to misunderstandings and misunderstandings lead to arguments. The best way to avoid this from happening is to communicate openly and effectively.
Open communication not only eases fears and doubts but strengthens your trust and your bond.
Of course, even with the best communication, no relationship is perfect. Problems will arise and little spats are inevitable. But the good news is, as long as you’re open, honest, and committed to working together, Magic-8 Ball says the outlook is good.
In fact, being apart actually improves communication and feelings of intimacy, though it sounds counterintuitive. Psychotherapist, Lori Gottlieb, specializes in relationships and according to Gottlieb, “one of the greatest benefits is that you do a lot more talking and learning about each other, since you spend more time having conversations than you might if you were sitting side-by-side watching Netflix, or out running errands or doing activities together.” 2
It makes total sense if you think about it. So when it comes to your conversations with your partner, remember quality over quantity. 3
Even if it seems like a minutiae detail, no detail is too small. It’s when your conversations start consisting of surface-level topics that you risk your chances of growing apart. Talk to your partner about your day, your plans, and even your whereabouts. This helps make your partner feel like they’re included in what’s going on in your life and not left out of the loop.
To clarify, I’m not saying to need “eyes” on you 24/7 –– that doesn’t do anyone any favors. But when you let your partner in on your plans for the day, that eliminates their feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and excessive check in’s. You know, those nifty things that don’t do anything but create feelings of tension and lack of trust.
It’s okay to ask, “how was your day?” but dig a little deeper. Ask how they’re feeling, what they had for lunch, what did they listen to on their drive into work? Who’s driving them crazy at work? Is Karen in Accounting still showing everyone videos of her grandson playing Old McDonald on pots and pans?
Talk with your other half and discuss your plans for the future – even if we don’t know exactly what the future will look like these days. Whether it’s a realistic goal or a dream that’s a bit far-fetched. It’s important to dream big and dream together.
While communication is a big part of staying emotionally connected, date nights are equally as important. Now, you might even be asking yourself, “what kind of date night can we possibly have long-distance?”
Well, let me tell you…
FaceTime and Skype aren’t just for catching up on what’s going on in each other’s lives.
These technological advances make it easy to schedule “virtual date nights”. Though it isn’t always easy with time differences and work schedules, be sure to set aside some time for the two of you.
Plan a “virtual” date as if you were planning a physical date night. Pick a time that works best for the two of you. Get dressed up, cook a meal “together”. Sit down and eat “together”. Have a glass of wine and play Scrabble or watch your all-time favorite movie. Use your imagination and make a night of it!
Another important factor in saying emotionally connected is to focus on the positives. I know, I know… these times often make it difficult to see the positive in anything. I get it – believe me, I do. Just know, it’s not impossible.
Instead of focusing on the negatives of your situation, reframe your focus. Remind each other how being apart will make you more appreciative of one another. Though it may be hard to see, there are benefits to being in a long-distance relationship
Studies show that those in long-distance relationships actually show higher levels of quality in their relationships. What do I mean by that? They showed more dedication to their relationship and were less likely to feel trapped. 4
Long-distance relationships teach you how to communicate and learn to trust your partner –– without trust, there is no relationship. Being apart from one another for long periods of time helps you appreciate the time you do spend together. And while you’re apart you also learn to focus on yourself and your needs.
“I exist in two places, here and where you are.” – Margaret Atwood
When couples spend all their time together they start morphing into one another. Not literally. But some couples almost become dependent on one another. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the case with every couple. But some start to lose their independence and individuality. 5
When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you have the time to focus on yourself –– your own values, your own goals, your own needs. And no, this isn’t selfish. This helps you become two strong individuals who equal one strong couple.
Long-distance relationships are hard work and need extra effort and commitment from both partners. It involves a lot of communication and trust. But in the end, it’s worth it.
 Friedman, D. (2020, September 13). How to Stimulate Intimacy & Sexuality During Quarantine. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from https://www.kissandtellmagazine.com/stimulate-intimacy-sexuality/  Piazza, J. (2018, June 19). 8 Best Tips to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from https://time.com/5316307/best-long-distance-relationship-tips-experts/  Bonior, A. (2018, June 11). 10 Tips to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/friendship-20/201806/10-tips-make-long-distance-relationship-work  Kelmer, G., Rhoades, G., Stanley, S., & Markman, H. (2012, September 18). Relationship Quality, Commitment, and Stability in Long‐Distance Relationships. Retrieved November 16, 2020, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01418.x?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+disrupted+on+11th+July+2015+at+10%3A00-16%3A00+BST+%2F+05%3A00-11%3A00+EDT+%2F+17%3A00-23%3A00++SGT++for+essential+maintenance.++Apologies+for+the+inconvenience  Cruz, A. (2017, September 25). The Surprising Benefits of a Long-Distance Relationship By: Angelina Cruz. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from https://www.psychalive.org/the-positives-behind-the-long-distance-relationship-by-angelina-cruz/