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The loneliness of the long distance relationship

Being apart from the person you love is hard. While absence may make the heart grow fonder, it can also fuel loneliness – and loneliness is a big deal. Some even believe that loneliness can do as much damage to our bodies as smoking [1].

But, more positively for those in long distance relationships, one study suggests that couples who are coping with living apart often have more intimate and meaningful interactions than couples who live together [1]. So how can you make the most of your long distance relationship and take the edge off the loneliness?

The most important thing in keeping a long distance relationship going is communication. Here are a few ways you can keep the communication oiled.

  • Have a communication schedule. This might seem a bit mechanical but having a specific time for your chats means you can look forward to spending time your partner without putting your own life on hold. If you know when it’s happening each day, you can develop a routine that works with the rest of your life. Knowing each other’s day-to-day schedules can help you feel closer.
  • Do things together, even though you’re apart. Try reading the same book, or watching the same movie at the same time. Play online games together or even do the same crossword in the paper – find an activity you like and share it from a distance.
  • Plan your future. Have a goal in mind for where the relationship is headed, and when you might be able to move closer together. Keep talking about this so you’re on the same page. Talking about your future can help keep you both positive.
  • Talk to people when you’re down. If you’re really missing your partner, let your friends and family distract you and buoy you up through the hard days.
  • Talk to your partner about your worries. This builds trust and helps avoid the misunderstandings that can happen when there’s no face-to-face interaction.
  • Keep the sexual side of the relationship alive. Sexy texts or even phone sex can help you beat sexual frustration.

It will be lonely at times – that’s almost unavoidable – but a physical distance doesn’t have to stop you being an intimate, committed couple. And, if couples living apart have more intimate and meaningful interactions than couples who live together, there’s plenty to be positive about.


[1] Crystal Jiang, L. Hancock, J.T. (2013) Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships. Journal of Communication. 63 (3) 556–577

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