Does Long Distance Create Emotional Distance In Your Relationship?

Living apart from a partner is never easy. Because you may go a long time without seeing each other, the literal distance can often create emotional distance or a feeling that this relationship is not a priority to one or both partners. The more you fight about long distance, the more frustration or hurt you may feel. It can also create a problem when one partner’s expectations about long distance is different from the other’s. Moreover, long distance can make it harder to share the mundane day-to-day activities, challenges, and accomplishments of each of your lives, which can lead to feeling disconnected and lonely.

You may both want to feel closer, but don’t know how to make it happen, or you may fight about one partner caring more to stay connected. Do you and your partner have different expectations for how you should handle living apart? For example, do you fight about how often you talk or how you can keep the connection despite the distance?  Or has living apart interfered with one or both of you feeling emotionally close? If so, read below to learn more about how to address these concerns.

“We both want things to get better but don’t know how to make things better.”

Tips for Both Partners:

  1. Talk About Your Day. Geographically close couples often talk about the little events in life that have either happened or are upcoming – which over time builds closeness and intimacy; however, when in a long distance relationship, it can be easy to forget to include your partner in these small life details. Therefore, start every call with taking five minutes to ask each other how your days were and to share in each other’s worlds, even when miles apart.
  1. Make The Minutes Count. Long distance couples often think that talking all the time is the solution to their feelings of disconnectedness. But sometimes, this can create more problems. Think about it. When you live close to someone, you likely don’t call them every five minutes to say hi. Instead, you probably wait until something big happens or after work/school to talk. One recommendation then is for you to prioritize quality of conversation versus quantity. If you are always on the phone with nothing to say, you may start resenting each other. Instead, make the most of the calls you have and when you are on the phone with each other, share your day, talk about how much you miss each other, or talk about your shared values and interests. Additionally, consider being creative by sending each other pictures, audio clips, or videos. When you each put in this effort to stay connected, you’re both more likely to feel loved and attended to.
  1. Set Some Ground Rules. Long distance couples often differ on how much time to spend on the phone, how much to say, whether to use the phone or Skype/Gchat/FaceTime, etc., and/or who is commuting for the next visit. This can often cause a lot of tension. If this is true for you, discuss your expectations for how you can both feel fulfilled in the relationship.
  1. Mix Up Your Time Together. When you’re together, try to do activities alone (just the two of you) as well as activities together with friends or family. When one person is long distance, it’s important that person get to know friends/family and be a part of the partner’s social life.  That way, when the partner talks about things that have happened with friends/family, the long-distance person can know those people and be involved in the conversation.  Involving the long-distance person in the partner’s social life also communicates to other that your relationship is important – potentially protecting it against unwanted advances by other potential partners.
  1. Date Each Other. Geographically close couples often prioritize date nights every once in a while. Don’t let the miles between you stop you from doing the same. There are plenty of activities that can be done such as watching a TV show at the same time or playing an online game that will allow you to take each other out on a date or feel connected. Here is a list of possible suggestions:
  1. Complete a Free, Online Self-Help Program. Consider working on your relationship using our proven, self-help relationship program. Our program is developed by leaders in the fields of couple therapy and pre-marital education and has been shown through extensive research to improve relationships – more than in-person classes and almost as much as marriage counseling. You’ll work with your partner to complete online activities and receive free support from one of our program coaches. Our program is developed by leaders in the fields of couple therapy and pre-marital education. So, you can be confident that it’s the best thing you can do to strengthen your relationship without the hassle and cost of a therapist. Not sure your partner would go for it?  Take a look at these tips for how to introduce the idea. To find out more about our program, go to our home page.


Extra Resources

The suggestions presented here may help you break the cycle you and your partner are struggling with when long distance is negatively impacting the relationship. Here are a few more resources for you to help in this area: