In this new column, Relationship Coach AILEEN SANTOS helps you make sense of common relationship issues to help you develop more enduring love in your life.
Though statistics for long distance relationship (LDR) success don’t look too promising, there are actually three factors that’ll help you ascertain whether your relationship can and will survive with hundreds of miles between you two, time differences and possible miscommunication along the way.
FACTOR #1: KNOW YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE
When to do this: You’re about to decide if an LDR is fit for you and your partner.
In the course of counseling couples for more than 30 years, Dr Gary Chapman found that although people often talk about love, we actually have very different ways of experiencing & expressing it. According to him, there are five love languages:
Words of Affirmation: You feel most loved when your partner says / texts / emails/ whispers / sings / writes loving words about you. You feel most hurt when you are verbally insulted.
Quality Time: You need your partner to be where you are, spend time with you, and engage in long walks or quiet conversations with you. When separated for long periods of time, you feel like you’re strangers.
Receiving Gifts: You treasure small tokens of affection from your beloved: a handmade card, a scrapbook of used tickets of movies you saw together, a pressed flower. The gifts don’t have to be expensive. For you, it’s the thought behind them that means the most.
Acts of Service: You feel most loved when your partner takes care of you through actions: fixing the car, bringing you to and from work, taking care of the baby so you can have some “Me time”. You feel most hurt by broken commitments.
Physical Touch: You need hugs, pats on the back, hand-holding, and thoughtful physical touches to feel loved. Without these gestures, you’ll feel incredibly lonely and seek out the company of others who can give you these things.
Chapman realized that most couples are made up of partners with different love languages, leading them to complain that “the love is no longer there”, when in fact, their partner was only expressing love in a different way.
“Words of Affirmation”, “Receiving Gifts” and “Acts of Service” are LDR-friendly love languages since they can still be expressed even when your partner is not physically present.
Meanwhile, “Quality Time” and “Physical Touch” love languages would make it very difficult for an LDR to work. Logically, you may know that you’re loved, but your heart simply wouldn’t feel it – and this will most likely push you to find expressions of love from other people.
If you or your partner has “Quality Time” or “Physical Touch” as a primary love language, try to find a way to earn more while staying together, because you need to be there for each other in order for love to grow and survive. Discover your love language at www.5lovelanguages.com/assessments/love.
FACTOR #2: KNOW YOUR TIME LIMIT
When to do this: You’re planning a future career abroad with an LDR as a consideration.
A physical separation in a relationship works only when you know it’s temporary. To make your relationship constantly feel “more real” than the difficulty of your time apart, it’s critical that you both know when the LDR phase will end.
Before you embark on an LDR for a career abroad, you and your partner must be able to answer these very important questions:
- How much money do you really need to target, before you can say “it’s enough”?
- How can you reach this amount of money more quickly? How can you both work together to make sure this happens?
- How many months or years would it take to reach your target? And how can you plan it so that – when it’s time to return home – you’ll still be able to live comfortably together?
FACTOR #3: KNOW WHAT EXTRA EFFORTS ARE NECESSARY – and DO THEM
When to do this: You’re already in a long distance relationship.
Most people are actually surprised when they hear this: you have to work on your relationship. As the adage goes, “you reap what you sow”.
If you plant “dedicated regular time together”, “constant communication & connection” and “extra effort to remind my partner & myself of our love”, then you will most likely reap a strong and happy relationship.
Great relationships don’t happen by accident. They happen only when a couple is determined to make their relationship great – and their actions reflect this intention.
AILEEN SANTOS (www.AileenSantos.com) is a Relationship Coach & A-Ha! Trainer who helps smart men & women learn better skills for attracting & keeping Real Love. To seek her advice, e-mail your relationship problems to email@example.com or read her column in the latest copy of Pinoy Star magazine here.