Building Emotional Bridges: Making Long-Distance Relationships Work

So your sweetie gets offered the job of her dreams in another state and decides to take it. But you both agree that you still want to be a couple. Long-distance relationships can work; you'll just need to plan ahead and communicate well.

Will You Stay Exclusive?
Before the move, you'll need to discuss whether you plan to stay monogamous or date other people. If you disagree, then exclusivity is not a good idea. Forcing one person to stay true when there's a distance of several states is not the best strategy. Tell your sweetie if you really want to stay exclusive, but respect that she's being honest about needing emotional space while you have physical space keeping you apart.

Short-Term Plan
Decide how and when you will be able to see each other--will you alternate visits in each city or meet in the middle? If one of you is more willing and able to spend money on airline tickets, that can be a plus. However, it can also cause resentment if one of you is spending more and therefore tipping the relationship balancing act. Besides spending power, flexibility in work schedules and the need to be near the office in case of emergencies will play into the decision about who's coming or going more often. Meeting at some in-between location can work well to neutralize power struggles and make your time together more exciting.

Long-Term Plan
Besides concocting a survival plan, you'll need to figure out how to resolve this new distance between you or accept it. Will the partner left behind seek a job in the new city? Will the one who moved look for an opportunity to move back within a designated amount of time? Or will you simply both aim to stay committed to a long-term, long-distance relationship?

The biggest factor with the physical distance will be how to keep the relationship strong emotionally. Communication becomes even more important when you see each other less. Discuss how often you want to communicate and set limits if one of you tends to be needier than the other. Consider using video chat to keep the image of your sweetie's face fresh in your mind and to communicate those emotional vibes that words cannot--for instance, that look in your eyes that says "I love you and really want to be with you!"

With such a big change in your situation, you'll need to triple your efforts to strengthen what's important in any relationship--commitment, expressing affection, talking out problems, and showing respect for the other partner's feelings, interests and obligations. And when you do get to see each other in person, don't get caught up in obsessing about how hard it is to be apart. Focus on enjoying the moment--the touch of her hand, the smell of her hair, and the taste of her lips on yours!

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