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How to make a long-distance relationship work

Julia Faulks / 23 September 2015

The initial excitement of a long-distance relationship can wear thin for many couples, so how can you make sure you get through the highs and the lows to make it work?

Woman on telephone to partner
Keep the lines of communication open and concentrate on making plans for the next time you see each other instead of dwelling on your time apart

Be aware of your expectations

A long-distance relationship isn’t for everyone and there are many challenges you may face along the way, whether it’s down to cultural differences or the financial burden of travelling to see one another.

“It depends on the reason for the long distance and how you can bridge that, whether you can meet up at weekends or every couple of weeks or months,” says Paul Leake, counsellor with Relate.

“It’s about being aware of what your expectations are and how realistic that can be. It is also about what works for you when it comes to communication – if you can use video chat on your phone or computer this can be more helpful than a telephone call where you can’t see each other,” he adds.

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Positives of a long-distance relationship

For all the downsides of a long-distance relationship, there are plenty of good things you can focus on. By reminding yourself what makes you happy when you are together you may be more likely to feel positive about your relationship and less likely to focus on the challenges ahead.

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Try and appreciate what you do have

While it can be easy to resent the time spent apart, it can be beneficial to focus on the fact that you are lucky to be part of one another’s lives. It may also only be a short-term situation, but if it isn’t you need to think about whether you would be happier with or without this person.

Be open about your feelings

If you are always trying to be upbeat when you speak to each other then that’s not necessarily going to be a realistic relationship that can survive the hard times. A good heart-to-heart can bring you closer and help you to understand and support each other.

Be patient

Being apart will be a good test of your patience, especially if you are not able to speak to each other at the exact time you want to. The best thing to do is to make sure that you have a fulfilling social and work life and are able to distract yourself in those moments when you are really missing them.

Make plans

Thinking ahead will give you something to look forward to. Staying focused on the time you will have together, rather than the weeks apart, will help you cope with the ups and downs of a long distance relationship, even if it’s just setting time aside to speak or chat online.

“My other half had to work away for five years and in that time I only saw him every six weeks for a short weekend. We had already been married for 20 years, so I think these five years apart helped us to remember the romance of the early days. Sometimes a bit of distance helps you appreciate what you have,” says Cass, 50.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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