Watch Dr. Sylvia answer Curtis from Facebook's question about long distance relationships - click here.
Curtis from Facebook writes in:
“My girlfriend and I just went long distance after being together for a year. Our relationship is strong, [and] we are best friends as well as a couple. She left 2 days ago and I can’t see her again until Christmas time. Any advice on how to make it work?”
Well Curtis – first, congratulations on finding such a wonderful partner and I sincerely hope that things work out for both of you. Here are some a few tips to keep in mind:
Built On Friendship
Many people forget that a deep and abiding friendship is one of the cornerstones to love. Romance thrives when you genuinely enjoy your partner and have fun when you interact either on the phone or face-to-face. Consider this to be one of your most important strategies to survive and even thrive during the physical separation. There are a million ways to keep your friendship alive when you are away from one another by playing through words and activities. Playing games together online like “Words With Friends,” video chatting through Skype, posting on each others’ Facebook walls, or sharing pictures on Instagram or Tumblr are all great ways to stay connected.
Most people don’t realize that trust is built one interaction at a time. We reinforce trust through staying faithful to one another, but we also show our trustworthiness when we interact with sincere and total focus. Whenever you interact with her, be emotionally present and give her all of your attention. Women find undiluted focus intoxicating. Also, make sure you remain committed to timely answers to texts, emails, or any social media interaction. Even if you’re just explaining that you’re busy right now, she’ll appreciate your attentiveness and care.
Being away from the one you love can be difficult, particularly for long stretches of time. If you find that your stress or anxiety is growing, use a distress tolerance technique called “radical acceptance.” Dr. Marsha Linehan, the inventor of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, invented this technique. Radical acceptance asks you to separate what you can control and what you cannot control. Focusing your attention and efforts on what you can control will calm you down and makes you more confident. Remember that radical acceptance does not ask you to enjoy what is happening. It simply asks you to focus on controllable factors and let go of what is out of your control. Once you can do this, you can focus on what you can do to keep your relationship vibrant and healthy.
Express Yourself Verbally
While actions are very important, there is no substitute for the power of words, particularly for women. Send a poem that you wrote or borrowed from a famous poet that tells her how much you love her or that you were simply thinking of her. Send a loving phase along with a favorite picture of both of you or even a Pinterest board to plan your next vacation. And most important of all, when you talk to her, tell her that you love her and you miss her.
The Work of Dr. John Gottman