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Tips for Long Distance Relationships in the Digital Age

by | Mar 19, 2020 | RELATIONSHIPS

Being across the country or even across the world from your partner is never easy, even in today’s technology-driven world. Just because you can text, FaceTime and even engage sexually in a virtual space doesn’t mean you won’t need tips for long distance relationships in the digital age.

In fact, assuming that technology will keep you from struggling with staying connected emotionally and sexually could actually hurt your chances of making a long distance relationship work.

Long distance relationships take effort – no matter what technology you’ve got (literally) in your back pocket. But the tips for couples living in long distance relationships in this piece can help you leverage technology to stay connected emotionally and sexually.

Do Long Distance Relationships Work?

Believe it or not, almost 3.5 million married couples in the U.S. live apart. And while many people view long distance relationships as ultimately doomed to fail, research paints another picture.

A 2014 study of more than 700 long distance partners and 400 geographically close partners found that long distance couples were not more likely to be unhappy than those who lived close together.

In fact, research shows that long distance couples may actually think more highly of their partners, because the lack of day-to-day contact and stress (like their dirty socks all over the floor) can lead them to idealize their partners. However, long distance relationships may actually fail more often when a couple finally reunites. A 2006 study of students at Ohio State University found that a third of long-distance relationships ended within three months of living in the same city.

What can you do to strengthen your relationship for the long haul, whether you’re staying long distance indefinitely or looking forward to reuniting? Keep reading for tips for long distance relationships in the digital age.

Tips for Long Distance Relationships: Building an Emotional Connection

In today’s technology-driven world it’s a lot easier to stay in communication with our partners no matter what part of the world you both are in. In fact, research has shown that distance can actually enhance some types of communication for couples.

One study that analyzed people’s diaries of their texts, phone calls, video chats and other communications with their partners found that long distance couples actually felt more intimate with each other than geographically close couples. Another study found that long distance couples experienced less “problematic communications,” like snapping at a partner over dirty dishes or childcare.

Still, it’s important to think about how you’re communicating with a long distance partner and take advantage of technology that gives you the best chance for building and maintaining an emotional connection.

Apps and tools that give you face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction like FaceTime, Skype or even a good old fashioned phone call can help you establish a stronger emotional connection with someone than message-based tools like texting or social media.

A study by Dr. Shanhong Luo, a psychologist at North Carolina University, found that college students who spent a significant amount of time texting were less satisfied with their relationship than other couples, with texting replacing some more intimate forms of communication.

Jumping on FaceTime or the phone is especially important if you’re having a difficult conversation with a long distance partner. While it may be tempting to avoid the face-to-face conflict by sending an angry message, a lack of body language and facial expressions can easily make a simple argument turn into a much larger issue.

Tips for Long Distance Relationships: Maintaining a Sexual Connection

Using technology in relationships is a great way to mix things up with your partner and stay connected in long distance relationships. Creating a thriving digital love life can enhance and get you more excited for the times you do get to connect physically.

Apps with video features offer many ways to play with partners and create heat together when being in the same room isn’t feasible. Designed for the on-the-fly photographer in anyone, they make it easier than ever to send a partner a sexy snap and get some dirty talk started.

Teasing is nothing new in dating or online relationships, but technology offers many ways to get creative with your digital love life, without having to get a degree in graphic design. A tripod, GIF creators, and video editing apps make it possible to surprise a partner with your own sexy memento to savor and refer back to.

Beyond sexting, using technology in relationships can is one of the most important tips for long distance relationships to stay connected sexually. Technology has come a long way, and there’s more you can do today than ever before to maintain that sexual chemistry.

Teledildonics companies have paired digital sex toys with apps that either partner can control. Sex sleeves (designed for male genitals) and vibrators (generally designed for female genitals) can be controlled remotely using an app, giving you and your partner endless ways to tease and stimulate each other from across the world! Couple this technology and sex with a video chat, and it’s as close to the real deal as you can get.

Tips for Long Distance Relationships: Fostering Independence

Learning ways to stay connected with your partner is one of the most important tips for long distance relationships, but it’s important to also put time and energy into working on yourself. After all, you’ll be spending a lot more time with yourself than you will be with your partner.

Whether you’re facing attending weddings without a plus-one, celebrating a promotion without your loved one or even just facing a sink full of dirty dishes and the kids’ bedtime routine without a partner, long distance relationships can feel lonely.

Building independence and creating a fulfilling life outside of your relationship is important for your day-to-day happiness within a long distance relationship, but can also enhance a relationship when you do reunite.

By investing your time into hobbies, activities, family and friendships (instead of wallowing in your loneliness and self-pity), people in long distance relationships can become stronger and more confident. This independence can foster interdependence in a relationship – when you and your partner can depend on each other but still maintain your individuality, which research shows is key for overall well-being.

But while building independence is important, don’t be afraid to let your partner in on the small stuff about your day. The mundane details that you might consider boring can actually be an important bonding tool, helping you and your partner feel closer to one another and a part of each other’s lives.

Getting Help with Long Distance Relationships

While long distance relationships are certainly not doomed to fail, they do come with unique challenges. If you’re focusing on building and maintaining an emotional and sexual connection, but still struggling to make your relationship work, couples’ therapy may be able to help.

Another perk of living in the digital age is that online marriage counseling and online couples’ therapy is becoming more and more common and accessible.
Whether you talk to an online couples’ therapist to develop better communication strategies or work with an online sex therapist to enhance your sexual connection with a long distance partner, a therapist can provide personalized tips for long distance relationships that can help you make it work.

References

Dargie, E., Blair, K., Goldfinger, C., & Pukall, C. (2013). Go Long! Predictors of Positive Relationship Outcomes in Long-Distance Dating Relationships. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 41(2): 181-202.

Jiang, L. C., & Hancock, J. (2013). Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships. Journal of Communication , 63(6): 556-567.

Kelmer, G., Rhoades, G., Stanley, S., & Markman, H. (2013). Relationship Quality, Commitment, and Stability in Long‐Distance Relationships. Family Process, 52(2): 257-270.

Sels, L. (2016). Emotional Interdependence and Well-Being in Close Relationships. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 283.

Shanhong, L. (2014). Effects of texting on satisfaction in romantic relationships: The role of attachment. Computers in Human Behavior, 33: 145-152.

Stafford, L., Merolla, A., & Castle, J. (2006). When long-distance dating partners become geographically close. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 23(6): 901-919.

Modern Intimacy is a group therapy practice, founded by renowned Psychologist and Sex Therapist, Dr. Kate Balestrieri. This inclusive blog is designed to provide a wealth of information and resources for mental health, relationships, and sexuality. Subscribe today to get the latest information from our expert contributors from all around the world.

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Author Bio

Dr. Kate Balestrieri is a Licensed Psychologist, Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, and PACT II trained Couples Therapist. She is the Founder of Modern Intimacy. Follow her on IG @drkatebalestrieri and @themodernintimacy.

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