Ah, the long-distance relationship. Some make it look easy; others fret over its plausibility. But I'm here to tell you, with the right approach, you can ignore all the hand-wringing and concern that surrounds LDRs. A lot of people do it, and a lot of times it works out! In fact, research shows that couples in long distance relationships often have better communication and relationship satisfaction than couples who live closer to one another.
LDRs require couples to be a bit more intentional about loving one another and—like most hard work—they reap the rewards.
Those who are familiar with Dr. Gary Chapman's The 5 Love Languages will tell you the the best way to love someone is by learning their primary love language which, as Chapman explains, could be one of five: Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Gift Giving and Words of Affirmation. An LDR does not exclude you from learning and speaking your man's primary love language on a regular basis. In fact, the distance just might make you both pros at loving each other in the way each of you is loved best.
Don't believe me? Here are some ways you can speak your guy's love language from far away.
Let's start with the hardest one, shall we? Long distance is perhaps the most difficult for the Physical Touch man who is physically separated from his partner for weeks, or even just days, at a time. But, thats no excuse to throw up your hands. Here are a few ways you can keep his love bucket full while you are apart.
01. Talk about hugs. Talking about Physical Touch may not be as good as the real thing, but, it will do the trick in a pinch. This doesn't mean talking dirty here—just good old PG-rated Physical Touch talk. Tell your guy how you can't wait to put your arms around him, how you miss giving him neck rubs when you are sitting next to him, and how you feel when you grab hold of his hand when you are with your friends. Be specific and it will take him back to those moments he felt most loved.
02. Don't go too long without a visit. If your man—or you for that matter—need Physical Touch to feel loved, planning frequent visits should be a priority in your relationship. Make the sacrifices necessary to see one another. Maybe you go without your daily PSL in the morning and put that money towards gas or a plane ticket. Better yet, sign up for a credit card that has millage points, and make every Starbucks you drink go toward your next flight. My sister and her husband spent their entire relationship long distance—she in Georgia and he in Chicago—and when they got married a year later they were able to use all their mileage points towards their honeymoon. Not a bad deal!
Acts of Service
This is the second most difficult love language to speak in an LDR, but it's not impossible. When you are dating in the same city, life presents many opportunities to show love through service. You could wash his car, pick up his dry cleaning, go to that event you have no interest in but he is really looking forward to. The list is endless. So how do you speak Acts of Service when you are so far away?
01. Ask him what you can do for him. It's hard to know what kind of things you can do for your man throughout his day when you are not there, but asking him is an easy way to solve that problem. If he is an Acts of Service guy he will happily think of a few ways you can help. Every guy has different needs, but here are a few ideas:
- Proofread important emails before he sends them out.
- Give him a call in the morning to make sure he is up.
- Do the online shopping he hates—clothes, groceries, whatever it is—or do the research on something he says he wants to look into.
Of course nothing is as good as actually being together in the same room, but thanks to technology, quality time together is perhaps even easier for long distance couples. Rather than phones and computers being a distraction, it actually facilitates the love language of Quality Time. When you're long distance, FaceTime and Skype can fill your love bucket to the brim. Here are two easy ideas.
01. Digital dinner date. Quality time can and should be scheduled just as frequently as you would if you were in the same town. The only difference is you aren't technically in the same space, but it's easy to forget that. Plan date night in detail, order the same dish or at least the same kind of cuisine, light a candle and put the screen right in front of you. He devours his green curry, you twirl your pad thai, and you tell each other about your week and your dreams for the future. The best part? There is no waiter to come by and ask you if you are ready for your check!
02. Game night. A lot of people suggest watching a movie at the same time, but I think this can too often be a source of frustration. It's hard to start a movie at exactly the same time and, unless you are able to cuddle on the couch, it's not really quality time. So, rather than a movie, opt for a game night instead! Sign on to Skype or FaceTime and then play Scrabble or Poker on free online game sites like Pogo.com. You can play your guy from a different location and smack talk in real time via video chat.
If your man's primary love language is Gift Giving, long distance can be fun—but perhaps a little more expensive because it typically involves shipping. Here are a few ideas.
01. Order him a pizza. Nothings says "I love you" like a surprise delivery of pizza from his favorite local spot.
02. Send him a care package. Who doesn't love a mix of their favorite treats?
03. I.O.U. You can't take him out to his favorite place now, but you can send him an I.O.U he can redeem next time you come to visit.
Words of Affirmation
If your guy is a words of affirmation man, I hate to break it to you, but an LDR is no excuse. Send texts throughout the day telling him how wonderful he is, specifically. Every chance you get, whether it be telephone or Skype, affirm your man of your love for him and his masculinity.
01. What kind of things communicate love and appreciation? I asked a group of men what words of affirmation made them feel the best, and they all agreed that they liked being thanked for how they care for you and they like to hear that you enjoy spending time with them. The guys go into more detail about what words of affirmation make them feel most loved in this article.
Armed with all the tools to communicate love despite distance, you should rest easy that your relationship can thrive even when apart.
Photo Credit: Janis RoseAnne