Each relationship comes with its own unique sets of communication challenges. But for those in a long distance relationship, sometimes it can feel like relationship satisfaction is hard to achieve and that relationship trials are even more amplified.
If you are long-distance dating and want to know how to make that relationship work, here are a few helpful communication skills that you can use to build effective communication habits in your relationship!
1. Set up times to talk
Maintaining a long distance relationship requires a different kind of work than a relationship where both people live in the same town. Sure, texting is great. But it can’t replace face to face contact.
Speaking face to face is one of the keys to making a long distance relationship into long-term relationship. Not only does face to face communication allow you to see your partner and interact more personally, it helps establish trust and gives you a more full means of communicating.
Part of tackling this challenge means striving for intentional timing. Since you won’t be able to send a quick text asking about tonight’s dinner plans, or arrange a spur-of-the-moment ice cream date, it’s important to be strategic about your timing.
You should make an effort to talk every day, and at the same time. Decide that you’ll talk for at least a set amount of time each day—at the same time, if you can.
It may feel weird to schedule time for your love, like scheduling a dentist appointment, but the reality is that the things you make time for are the things that are most important to you.
This doesn’t mean your communication should be contained to only your agreed-on time—you can still text or email throughout the day.
2. Avoid over communication
My only caution is to be weary of falling into habit of ignoring the world around you in favor of being constantly available for your phone. A long distance relationship now is much easier than it was even just twenty years ago, because of the myriad of ways we have to communicate with one another. But that can also lead us into different problems.
There’s an issue I like to refer to as the “never-ending conversation” problem. Since we can text someone the second we wake up, call them on our way to work, video chat at lunch, chat online all day, then do all of the above each evening until the very minute our eyes shut—that’s a lot of conversation.
Keep the intrigue of conversation alive by refusing the temptation of constant communication. Write down things you want to remember to share about your day so that your conversations, when you have them, are rich, full, and have a clear path with a beginning, middle and end.
Plus, this will help you to remain grounded in your world, instead of living a nebulous existence between your world and theirs.
3. Send care packages
I love care packages in all my long distance relationships—friends, family, pen pals. It’s such an easy way to show you care and send a little part of yourself to someone else. I like to send usually choose a theme, like “Movie Night”. Then I’ll send a sweet treat, a favorite DVD, a bag of popcorn, a pair of fuzzy socks, and, of course, a heartfelt letter.
Care packages can be functional, too. When I was dating my boyfriend long distance, I used a grocery shopping app to have groceries delivered right to his door when he was sick. Communication is key, and these little instances of communication can help you build intimacy!
Another great aspect of care packages is that they aren’t affected by time zones. You can send your partner a care package anytime!
4. Arrange visits
Sure, absence makes the heart grow fonder, but you should visit as often as possible. This is obviously easier if you’re closer and can make the trip in a few hours or by car.
But if you’re far away and need tickets or time off from work, then make a conscious effort to save money together toward that goal. Keep countdowns going, make matching change jars to collect pennies for trips in—whatever you can.
Once you’re actually visiting, the resident partner should have something fun planned. Don’t just sit around the whole trip watching Netflix—experience the world your S.O. lives in. See where they get their morning bagel, where they work, and meet their community.
The more you can spend time seeing one another’s world, the more down-to-earth you’ll be as a couple, instead of being absorbed in only one another (a danger of a long distance relationship).
5. Go on virtual dates
You can thank the era of video chat and social media for this one. No longer do you need to be in the same room with someone to share a meal. In fact, you don’t even have to be in the same room to send a meal. You could surprise your sweetie with delivery to their house, or plan to make the same meal and eat it together over video chat.
You can get creative and watch TV together, or virtually share a walking tour of your favorite places around your town.
6. Keep working on communication, even when it’s tough
If you’re in a long distance relationship, remember that it’s only temporary.
Pray, pray, pray for one another, especially when the distance feels extra heavy (and sometimes it will). The most important communication strategy to remember is to communicate at all.
Don’t assume that your partner knows how you feel or what you’re thinking. Be honest, be upfront, and be vulnerable.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time talking about evaluating your relationship, but don’t be afraid to have deep conversations on the phone. That’s how you’ll grow together.
Use this season to strengthen your relationship and enjoy the gift of spending time together!