Portland Marriage Counseling: When Can Long-Distance Relationships Work?

December 23, 2013 by

The common wisdom that I’ve heard from clients in Portland marriage counseling (and in general) is that long-distance relationships never work… except when they do. There are plenty of obstacles to couples who live in different geographical regions, but there are also many success stories.  Whether it’s two people who met on vacation and started out in a long-distance relationship or a married couple who must spend time apart due to work or school, many people make logistically difficult relationships work.

So what exactly do long-distance couples need to do to keep their relationship strong? There is no sure-fire relationship advice that will work for everyone, but here are a few general thoughts to keep in mind if you’re in a long-distance relationship.

Advice for Long-Distance Relationships from Portland Marriage Counseling

Communicate on a regular basis. This may seem like an obvious piece of relationship advice, but it’s especially important to communicate when you don’t see your partner on a daily basis. Make sure you’re not just keeping up with the major events in your partner’s life—be there to listen about their day-to-day activities and their current emotional state. Knowing the little details helps you to really understand and become closer to your partner.

Define your relationship. It’s important that both you and your partner are clear about the nature of your relationship to avoid hurting each other in the long run. Consider what you both want out of the relationship and make sure your needs are compatible. If you do decide that you’re going to be in an exclusive relationship, trust your partner and avoid becoming jealous when they spend time with friends who live near them. If you struggle with this, remember that it’s still possible to have “couples” therapy in Portland relationship counseling even if only one of you is physically there.

Discuss the future of your relationship. The long-distance relationships that tend to fail are the ones where partners don’t see a possibility of living in the same place in the future. There may be some exceptions to that rule, but by and large, partners eventually need to be in the same physical location in order to fully support one another. Talk to your partner about whether they would be willing to relocate for you, and think about if you would be willing to relocate for them.

Cherish your time together. Although daily phone calls or Skype sessions are a good way to help you feel connected to your partner, long-distance communication on its own may not be enough to sustain a relationship. You and your partner should try to visit each other as often as your budget and time allow. Discuss upcoming visits and plan things you would like to do together, but also leave some unscheduled time to just enjoy being together.

As a Portland marriage counseling therapist, I wish the best for couples in healthy long-distance relationships. If you can overcome the geographical obstacles, you are truly proving the strength of your love for your partner.