Healthy Relationships: Long-Distance Communication
Communication in a Long-Distance Relationship
In a long-distance relationship, successful communication depends on your ability to effectively listen and talk to avoid misunderstandings. Both partners in a long-distance relationship need to feel secure that lines of communication are open. Long-distance couples often engage in more video calls, voice calls and texting than couples in closer proximity to each other.
Here are some tips that will help you navigate communication in your long-distance relationship:
Communication is key
Studies have found that couples in long-distance relationships experienced greater happiness in their relationship with responsive and frequent texting. Although it may not be possible to find time for video calls daily, using texting to stay in touch within a long-distance relationship is just as beneficial when used frequently throughout the day. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all model for healthy relationships. It can be tricky to navigate expectations for how frequently text messages are exchanged in a long-distance relationship, so ensure that you discuss with your partner how they would like to keep in touch (and how frequently). Together you can find what is right for you and your relationship!
Mimic everyday interactions by sending good morning and good night texts
Texting is often used to help mimic in-person interactions such as sending “good morning” and “good night” texts or sharing details throughout the day to experience a closer connection and the feeling of being in-person. Similar to the above recommendation, ensure that you respect the communication boundaries that you and your partner have set out, to ensure that these texts are received in a healthy and positive way!
Avoid resorting to the silent treatment
Long-distance relationships rely on online communication and the silent treatment is an ineffective way to respond to conflict. Your partner will not understand what is wrong or if anything is upsetting you unless that is communicated clearly. Instead, try to set a time to call your partner and explain why you are feeling upset.
Consider each of your schedules and set a time to talk that works for both of you
Both people in long-distance relationships need to be willing to schedule time for one another. Whether it is a quick phone call to hear about each other’s day, or a longer facetime call, it is important to plan a time for both of you to connect using audio or video.
Be present during video or phone calls
Although texting is a great way to stay in touch, video or voice calls are best for important discussions as there is increased intimacy. If you are in a long-distance relationship, try to avoid doing other tasks while on the phone with your partner. Whether it is a video or voice call, being present will make the other person feel more valued (Janning et al., 2018).
Talk about the future to remind each other that the distance is temporary
It is beneficial to look forward to the future together and remind each other that the distance is temporary. There may or may not be a set timeline for when you will be able to live closer to each other but looking towards the future and reminding yourself why you want to be with this person can help facilitate feelings of hope. In the short-term, setting a plan to see each other is another way to look forward to the future together.
Being in a long-distance relationship takes work to maintain a connection through talking to each other and listening attentively. Every couple is different so these tips may not all be applicable. It is best to find what works best for you and your partner to ensure effective communication. You may have to put in more work in a long-distance relationship, but this can also bring you closer together!
Holtzman, S., Kushlev, K., Wozny, A., & Godard, R. (2021). Long-distance texting: Text messaging is linked with higher relationship satisfaction in long-distance relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(12), 3543–3565. https://doi.org/10.1177/02654075211043296
Janning, M., Gao, W., & Snyder, E. (2018). Constructing Shared “Space”: Meaningfulness in Long-Distance Romantic Relationship Communication Formats. Journal of Family Issues, 39(5), 1281–1303. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X17698726
Tong, S. T., Walther, J. B. (2011). Relational maintenance and CMC. In Wright, K. B., Webb, L. M. (Eds.), Computer-mediated communication in personal relationships (pp. 98–118).
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