"Long-distance relationships have a 48% failure rate."

"Long-distance relationships have a 48% failure rate." Almost one in two long-distance relationships fail as a result.

It is clear that globalization and new technologies have brought us closer to the point of forming multicultural families and couples. Thus, we create more diverse, enriching, and creative environments.

But it is also true that more and more couples have long-distance relationships because they belong to different countries or because work or study circumstances make them live separately.

We all know short distance relationships (neighbouring cities or a few kilometres), medium distance (different locations in the same country or nearby countries), or long-distance (in other continents and time zones) but who was going to tell us just ago a year that we could have a long-distance relationship being so close because we are confined to our homes or that we would have to change plans and plane tickets three, four or even five times..

Of course, 2020 has left us many things, but one of them is the constant challenge to our ability to adapt and in the romantic sphere it was not going to be different.

When I was asked to write this post, my immediate response was that I was delighted to do it as a professional, since I work in couples therapy and I have learned a lot about these problems thanks to each of them. But I also have to admit that I was excited to do it from a personal point of view since I have lived for years and first-hand love at a distance.

Today I share with you the ABC of long-distance relationships or as this post of love in the times of COVID titles. I hope that after reading it you can start putting these 3 tricks into practice both in your relationship with your partner and with yourself.

Acceptance: one of the most repeated concepts in psychology, meditation, mindfulness, interpersonal relationships, and above all one of the most important tools that 2020 has left us.

Accepting means 2 things in the distance relationship:

  1. Accept circumstances that are not within our control, such as regulations, unexpected events, flight cancellations, or job opportunities that appear by surprise and change our plans. It hurts us to accept these changes because of the expectations that we had created of what they would be like and that we have to give up and because of the fear of their consequences. It is normal and more in a long-distance relationship that we spend time thinking about how our next meeting will be and it is also normal that we fear that if something negative does not occur, it will happen.
  2.  Accept our difficult thoughts and emotions.This costs even more. It is many occasions to want to avoid feeling uncertainty, insecurity, lack of attention, or even wanting to avoid "waiting" is what guides our behaviour and generates tensions and conflicts.

Let's start with three tips for acceptance:

  1. When a change of plans or a difficult emotion comes, let's try not to react immediately, if there is no urgency, why am I going to have to respond NOW
  2. Let's focus on the present moment, I know this sounds very easy but we can try to do it from the capacity of adaptation  trying to be creative in the couple and to look for an alternative.
  3. Communication without criticism.In this blog you will find another article about the horsemen of the apocalypse in the relationship and one of them is the tendency to blame the other. My recommendation is to communicate to look for alternatives but focused on the problem, avoiding criticism, and placing the responsibility or blame on the other person.

Building Bridges ”or create bridges. This is what will keep us together in the relationship and for this, here are examples of some of them:

Communication bridges:  We must take care of the channels and schedules through which we are going to communicate, but also the rules and flexibility within them so as not to generate misunderstandings. Differentiating an appointment even online at a specific time which we must respect and organize as if it were in person, from communication during the day through chats or messages. So that this communication does not produce frustration, we must agree on it, reaching a common agreement in the couple.

Bridges of affection:in the same way that we take care of our plants, maintain cleaning routines at home, or maintain attention to certain details with our clients, we can do it with our relationship. These displays of affection can range from sending messages or details to other simple actions such as preparing a Spotify list depending on the mood of the other person or updating the common one with songs that are meaningful to the couple. Think that what people regret the most at the end of their lives is for not having said or shown what he felt to their loved ones, distance limits us but also offers us opportunities to create more creative and personalized bridges of affection.

Bridges of entertainment: Sharing interests, hobbies, and pleasures are according to different studies one of the key pieces in successful relationships. Although the distance does not allow us to make a route together, spend a weekend, or discover a new restaurant, technology opens the door in a simple way to take care of this bridge. Over the past few months, I have seen fantastic ideas from couples who have virtually travelled online together to destinations they would like to go to, have learned new skills, or even taught each other in different disciplines.

Discovering is always exhilarating, so why not do it together also in the distance. 

Commitment is what guides our persistence, our ability to succeed in the things we value. Even in the most difficult moments, we can try to remain committed to:

  1. Our partners and their well-being
  2. The relationship as a common and constantly growing creation
  3. The previous bridges
  4. Our own emotions, to commit ourselves to accept them and develop compassion towards them, giving ourselves time, calming them, and also taking care of our own well-being.

Returning to the initial statistics ...

In order not to put our relationship at 48%, maybe you cannot change the situation but you can work on acceptance, common bridges, and commitment. 

Leticia Martínez Prado
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Leticia Martínez Prado
Psychologist and Coach
Adults and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
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