If you travel frequently for business, your relationship will often face the challenges of long-distance. This can put strain on an otherwise healthy relationship if not properly addressed and taken care of.
A long distance relationship is never going to be easy, but it does have its upsides to. Being away from each other complicates things, but it also allows you to have a greater appreciation for the simplest of things, like holding hands, eating a meal together, or feeling each other’s touch.
A long-distance relationship can certainly work, so long as you take the right steps to ensuring you and your partner maintain your close connection.
Tips for managing a long-distance relationship
1. Remember it’s work and not a holiday that’s dividing you
This rule is particularly important for the person left behind at home. It’s easy for one to assume that living in a hotel, always eating out and having maid service equals a grand vacation, but the reality is dining and sleeping on your own every night can get pretty lonely. Even those nights spent liaising with clients grow tiring - who wants to spend night after night talking business, or making small talk with strangers?
2. Communicate regularly and creatively
Greet each other every morning and say goodnight each evening, and try to give your partner frequent updates on your life and its happenings, no matter how mundane they might sound. To amp up interest, send each other pictures, audio clips and short videos of where you are and what you’re up to, from time to time. By putting in this kind of effort, you make the other feel loved and attended to.
3. Don’t be too regimental
While it’s important to make regular “Skype dates” and send each other messages, you don’t want to feel like you’re under constant pressure to work around scheduled times. Instead of saying, “Let’s Skype every night at 8pm”, instead arrange a time based on what you’re doing and where you’ll be that particular week. Don’t be afraid to skip a night or two either, as this helps make “Skype dates” a big event; you’ll have more appreciation for the face-to-face moments.
4. Find ways to do simple things together
Many mobile phone plans allow you to make unlimited calls, so it’s easy to talk often and for long periods. If you normally love watching your favourite shows together, continue to do so when apart. Call each other before or during the show, and simply sit quietly and talk in the commercial breaks. Being linked by phone can help make the kilometres between you seem irrelevant.
If you can’t sync your times, consider watching the same documentary or program and agree to discuss it later in the week. You could also play online games together, as this will keep you more connected and add interest into your relationship.
5. Share special occasions
Feeling like you’re missing out on something important can lead to bitterness and resentment, which is incredibly unhealthy for any relationship. If celebrating something special, like a birthday, use Skype and other technology to make the person away feel part of the action.
6. Tease each other
Sexual desire is like a glue that keeps both parties from drifting apart. Sex is not only a biological need, but an emotional one too. Keep the flames burning by sending each other teasing texts with sexual innuendos and provocative descriptions. Sexy puns work well too, especially if you’re not comfortable getting dirty.
7. Keep each other posted
If you say you’re going to call before bed, give an indication of what time that will be and let your partner know what you are up to before. Not knowing how the other is spending their time leads to suspicion and worry, and the person in the dark can end up feeling powerless. It’s okay to be busy, but don’t forget to tell your partner why you’re busy.
8. Make recommendations
You might not realise how much you actually talk about little things like music, books and news articles, but these are the little things that help you establish common ground. When reading an interesting article or listening to a good song, send the link to your partner if you think they’d enjoy it too. The more things you watch, read and listen to that are the same, the more shared experiences you’ll have, despite living apart.
9. Visit each other
Don’t just rely on your partner to always come home if you have the opportunity to sometimes visit them. Why not ask your partner to stay in whatever city they’re in for the weekend, and fly over to join them? Or, if you have a couple of days in the week free, go to them and enjoy a few evenings together.
10. Have a goal in mind
It’s important to understand why you’re living apart so frequently, and what it is you hope to achieve from this. How long do you plan to be apart? How do you plan to make changes in the future? Having a plan set in place shows that you’re still working together and heading in the same direction.
11. Don’t forget friends and family
When one person works away a lot, they often feel pressured to spend all of their time with their partner or kids when back home. But friendships are important too, as is time with other less-immediate family members. Make sure you allow time for simple hangouts with friends and family, and try not to take all of each other’s time when together.
12. Be watchful of your words
When separating due to work, be careful of using phrases such as, “You’re leaving again”. Instead, the words should be “going to work”. This is especially important if you have children, who take words very literally. The term “leaving” can bring with it negative connotations.
13. Tackle problems as a lifestyle
There are always going to be hard times when you have to endure long periods of separation, but reminding yourselves that not everything is about you will help you tackles these tough times as a team. The problem lies with the lifestyle, not your relationship. Try not to place blame on each other.
14. Be realistic
Agree on a realistic list of jobs that need doing around the house on the day’s you’re together, and write them down. This way, the person returning will not feel “nagged”, and the other will not feel like they're nagging.
15. Show enthusiasm
When returning home after a hard week at work, don’t stroll through the door in a bad mood or stripped of energy, as this will only breed more negativity or create strain within your relationship. The same goes for the partner at home. You may want to bombard each other with things that may have gone wrong, but instead, first just concentrate on being with one another - it might just be enough to make your bad mood slip away.