Tips for Coping with Long Distance Relationships

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

Tips for Coping with Long Distance Relationships

Article, Tips for Coping with Long Distance Relationships, written by Dr. Justin D’Arienzo, Psychologist and Couples Therapist in Jacksonville, Florida.

If you are reading this article you must be looking for tips for coping with long distance relationships due to being physically separated from a loved one. Long distance relationships is a topic that is very close to my heart and home. I spent six years in the U.S. Navy as an active duty psychologist and was deployed for nearly half of my Navy experience. I missed one of my children’s births meeting her at seven months of age and missed countless holidays, anniversaries, and family emergencies. The strain and challenges of the separation from my wife and kids were mitigated by several factors in addition to me having such a strong and stable wife.

Just like me, most of us have experienced a long distance relationship at some point in our lives. About a third of college students report being in a long distance relationship, most military personnel experience separation with deployments and unaccompanied assignments, and many others experience separation from their loved ones due to extended corporate travel.

So let’s answer the question, does absence make the heart grow fonder or does it cause it to wander? There is no doubt that long distance relationships can cause unique challenges for a couple, but it is also true that absence can help build and enhance a relationship. Both are true but it depends upon the relationship. Relationships where a partner or couple is insecure or avoidant pose great risk for the relationship’s success. Insecurity and avoidance are fueled by distance leaving couples more insecure and with a greater gap between them respectively often leading to the relationship deteriorating. However, healthy and secure individuals or couples seem to do pretty well despite distance. Distance can fuel growth in a healthy secure relationship as long as the distance is not too extended or reoccurring.

Let’s next talk about what we can do if we are faced with a long distance relationship or marriage and how to increase the chances of its success. First, the goal is for the relationship to thrive rather than just survive. Second, we get it to thrive by strengthening the bond and minimizing the burden. To enhance and strengthen the bond the couple should live and share their lives just as they would if they were in close proximity. Parties can utilize technology to maintain physical and emotional intimacy. Each partner should also keep the other on a pedestal and focus on the many qualities the other possesses that led them to choose the relationship in the first place. To lessen the burden, the couple should focus on the joy of reunification, break the time up mentally by chunking time and celebrating with a ritual when a chunk of time is passed, visit as much as possible, again use technological tools to communicate visually and verbally, and most importantly…respond to emergencies and challenges your partner experiences with empathy…and then with action if possible. You should help from afar.

There are many other tips and tools available to assist individuals and couples experiencing temporary absence or physical distance. With the right information and help you can deal with a long distance relationship. If one or a couple is having great difficulty, it may be beneficial to speak with a licensed psychologist, marital therapist, couples counselor, license mental health counselor (LMHC), or licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), or marriage and family therapist (LMFT) that specializes in relationships. Often these professionals can provide a treatment approach that fits both you and your situation. Further, couples in need of counseling or therapy due to long distance can be helped through Skype, by email or telephone, and/or in person. Please contact D’Arienzo Psychological Group at [email protected] or 904-379-8094 if we can be of assistance. We have a licensed psychologist, two licensed mental health counselors, and a licensed clinical social worker on staff and with expertise in relationships and couples therapy to help you.