Thursday, February 14, 2008
What's the big deal? - if you were brought up in a family where absence was the norm, it may be that periods apart are no problem.
It's the thin end of the wedge - perhaps in your past someone left saying it was temporary, but didn't come back. You may see a period of separation as the beginning of the end.
If you loved me, you'd stay - love is linked to being physically near and any threat to that is also a threat to your emotional security.
But it's not for long - it might be your nature to look at life in the long term and see a bigger picture and, therefore, you may find it easier than your partner to see this as a temporary phase of your relationship.
It's just not right - if your parents were together nearly all the time, then absence may simply be beyond your experience. Being a couple means being together.
On top of your personal interpretations of the absence, each of you will have a different perspective depending on whether you're the one leaving or staying.
Away from home
If you're the one who's going away, you have the advantage of experiencing new scenery, a new job and new people, perhaps. The disadvantages, of course, are missing your home and the company of friends and family. And although there may be many new experiences, you'll have to deal with the loneliness of having no partner with you to share them. People away from home often find their emotions swing between heights of excitement and depths of longing.
Left at home
If you're the partner who's staying at home, you have the advantage of familiar surroundings and, hopefully, the support of friends and family. The downside of this is that you may feel abandoned and trapped. There are also few new experiences for you, just the humdrum of daily life and the loneliness of having to get on with it on your own.
Making it work
The key to making long-distance relationships work is to talk honestly and openly about how you feel. Couples often fall into one of the following traps:
Let's pretend it's OK - if asked how you are, you both say "I'm OK, everything's fine." Underneath you're both lonely, but are too scared to say in case the other person doesn't understand.
It's all right for you - you try to be nice when you talk, but the resentment slips out. You're both convinced your partner's having an easier time of it than you. Underneath you both want reassurance, but fear you'll be rejected.
Share your feelings about the separation - both the positives and the negatives. This will give you the opportunity to really understand each other and give the support and reassurance you both need.
Talk about your resentment at the situation rather than at each other and look forward to the time when you're next together.
Staying in touch regularly is the key to surviving a long-distance relationship.
Use a variety of ways of communicating - email, telephone, text message, letter, etc.
Send little gifts - to show how often you think of each other.
Make some surprise calls - make the odd call just to say "I love you."
Send regular pictures - this will help your partner keep a visual record of what you're up to.
Keep a diary - then share it with your partner each time you meet.
Beware the reunion anticlimax
When you get to see each other again, chances are both of you will have built up great expectations of how fantastic your reunion is going to be. However, the reality often doesn't match up to the fantasy.
Many couples feel disappointed and frustrated when things aren't as they'd hoped. You may also find that rather than making love all day there are awkward silences or even arguments.
You can prevent this by making sure you've talked about how you want the reunion to be and recognising that the anticipation is often better than the consummation! And remember, it may take time to get used to being around each other again.
Absence can make the heart grow fonder when you use the time to show your partner how much they mean to you.