Relationships

Surviving Long Distance: Connection and Self-Care

Man alone staring out into the ocean at sunset

At night it always feels quieter without your loved one by your side. It becomes harder to sleep knowing how long you both shall be separated. You tell yourself that every second that passes you will be closer to being together again. Yet, so many more seconds need to pass and the thought of that brings tears to your eyes.

You try to talk with friends and family and all you get is that you’ll be fine. You know that you will be fine but at what cost. In the end, they say this because there is nothing that anyone can do. You can break up and feel pain or you can live separated and feel pain. In the end, it’s the same result, you feel pain because at the end of the day home is where those you love are and the one you love the most is far away. It feels like they are on the other side of the world.

You try to stay connected but day in and day out the conversation is not like what it was before. It’s like you are filling time even if there is nothing left to be said just to be connected with one another again.

Whether you are separated with an end date in sight or maybe with one that is not so defined or at the whim of a government with ever-changing rules to follow, long-distance is hard. It can feel like a piece of you is missing. How do we stay strong during this these times? How do we continue to put one foot in front of the other and keep connected to those same hopes that allowed for or forced our separation in the first place?

Connection

Before we can talk about “survival,” we need to talk about the way we connect or attach. As well as look at the patterns in which we attach.

When we separate from the one we love we tend to handle the separation in different ways. Some may feel more abandoned than others and others may flat out reject the partner acting as if the partner had done them wrong. And then there are individuals amongst that handle the separation well enough and are able to tolerate uncomfortable feelings.

How we attach to our partner mimics in a lot of ways the way we attached to our caregivers as children. If we had a conflictual or neglectful relationship with those caregivers, we may feel more sensitive when we have long-distance relationships because we are going through feelings of fear of being abandoned or of being rejected again.

For example, attachment issues may appear as being overly jealous and questioning your partner if they weren’t able to pick up the phone when you wanted to. Or becoming overly rigid about how many calls are to be made because if your partner misses a call, you tell yourself that this means that your partner doesn’t really love you and has been faking it this whole time.

Whatever your attachment style is, none of these issues are your partner’s responsibility. Take some time to reflect on how you’re feeling and where it may be really coming from. Open up to your partner about these feelings from past relationships but also know that you can speak to a mental health professional if these feelings become too overwhelming to handle.

Tactics for Survival: What You Can Do Together

One way to cope with the separation with your partner is to create little things you can do together. You can try to stream a movie at the same time and message each other about it. Depending on your time zone, you can try to eat a meal together. And, of course, you can visit one another.

While you may not be able to speak to each other every day make a commitment to one another that when you do have time together that you both are fully present with another. That means don’t be cleaning when your partner is with you or answering an email. Really take the time to find out how the other is doing and about their day.

These help to keep hope and our acts of positivity that one day you both will be able to see each other again.

Keep Living Your Life

It is also important that you don’t let your world stop just because your partner is physically not near you. It is emotionally rough to be away from this person and there is a lot of fears that go into being separated as well.

But if your partner loves you why would this person, want you to stop your life to be? Continue to strive for your goals and how you would like to live your life. Make sure you take care of yourself by eating healthy and exercising. Both of these have been proven to help promote positive mental health and helps to protect you from falling into depression.

We work throughout our lives to create self-care habits specifically for these moments where it can be emotionally rife. Lean into those self-care habits and take care of yourself during this time.

You Are Not Alone

Remember that you are not the only one to have to go through all these feelings. There is someone that you are very close to having to maneuver and manage these feelings just like you, your partner.

There have also been other couples that have had to deal with the same separation. Open up and communicate with your partner, family, and friends. That is why they are there to be able to support you when times are rough. This does not mean that you are burdening them with your feelings, this means that you value the relationship by becoming vulnerable with them. You would do the same for all of them, so let this be your turn to have the shoulder to cry on.

Know that you are not alone in these feelings and for better or for worse take solace in that.

Separation is never easy but it is possible to survive and come out of the tunnel still very much connected with your partner at the end of it.

And By the Way!

My name is Tara. I am a therapist who provides online counseling services in the state of Illinois. This blog post is not therapy and it should not be used as a substitute for therapy. If you would like to talk more, you can schedule a free 15-minute consultation, click here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *