Surviving Separation: Tips for Long-Distance Relationships

How to Survive the Forced Separation

The partner left, but you stayed? Or did you have to emigrate to different countries? Someone have long built a strong relationship and have no doubts about a partner; others are afraid that a forced separation will reveal the accumulated contradictions. We hug everyone who finds themselves in such a situation and figure out how to support ourselves and each other and survive this difficult period.

Why is forcible separation dangerous?

Psychologists believe that such circumstances are a real crisis for partners. The couple experiences both external and internal stress at the same time. This makes the relationship especially fragile and vulnerable.

The crisis affects various aspects related to relationships, including:

  • undermines a sense of security and trust

A sudden change of circumstances knocks the ground out from under your feet; it seems that you can no longer rely on anything and can’t be sure of anything. Lack of control over the situation—it is not clear how long the separation will last and when it will be possible to reunite—increases stress.

  • significantly reduces the resources that we receive from relationships.

For many people, relationships are a significant resource; they take up a large part of life and give a feeling of warmth and acceptance. A partner is the closest person to whom you can always turn for support or comfort. And in a situation of forced separation, it seems that this opportunity is lost forever.

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How to Survive the Forced Separation

  • takes sex and physical intimacy out of relationships

You are used to spending time together regularly, and now it is impossible to reach your partner. It is no longer possible to have dinner at the same table and discuss how the day went; it will not be possible to hug or kiss a loved one, not to mention more intimate contact.

The partner may be busy with work or adaptation in a new place, and at this moment, it seems to the second that he has cooled off or has already found someone else.

  • causes or exacerbates jealousy and misunderstandings

Uncertainty and instability in separation can also cause a crisis of confidence, especially if one or both partners have had anxiety about the relationship before. The partner may be busy with work or adaptation in a new place, and at this moment, it seems to the second that he has cooled off or has already found someone else.

  • causes domestic difficulties

This is especially true for partners who used to live together and share household chores. Yes, and such a change of circumstances can hit the wallet quite noticeably.

Anxiety, aggression, depression, and a sense of loneliness may accompany the crisis.

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Separation Is Not A Death Sentence For A Relationship

It is not an easy test for a couple or family, but difficulties do not mean that the relationship will necessarily be destroyed. This is an opportunity to strengthen relationships, make them more reliable, and get to know yourself and your partner better. These are the results of numerous studies of relationships at a distance.

For example, psychologists recently studied couples who were forced to separate during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the study, participants were away from their partners for more than two months and did not know when they would be able to see each other again. And just because of quarantine restrictions, the couples were separated for 5–6 months.

How to Survive the Forced Separation

According to the study, forced separation can both stabilize and “undermine” relationships.

Scientists have identified the following factors on which this depends:

  • perception of the situation

Stressful circumstances outside the couple’s control affect how partners evaluate each other’s behavior and the quality of the relationship during separation. Due to external stress, partners may quarrel more often, be jealous of each other, or be more drawn to each other or bored.

  • quality of the relationship before separation The

How well a couple can deal with a breakup depends on how close they were, how much they trusted each other, and what they thought their partner was worth. Whether or not two people need to stay in touch when they are far apart depends on how good their relationship is.

  • the behavior of partners in a situation

Coping strategies can help partners cope with their own stress, but at the same time, they do not “work” to strengthen the relationship. Among these “unpaired” strategies are denial of the problem, avoiding ways to solve it, and distracting yourself with work, hobbies, or alcohol. All of these increase the risk that partners will drift apart.

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The couples who did best were those who were close before separation and, during it, remained united, despite the difficulties, and provided emotional support to each other. They were able to once again realize the value of their relationship and strengthen it. Many noted that the relationship even improved—for example, feelings became stronger, and the partner began to show more tenderness and care than before.

How to Survive the Forced Separation

How to Cope with Parting

So far, no one knows for how long what is happening in the world can separate people. It is important to maintain warm emotional contact, support each other, and not stop planning a joint future despite the uncertainty and unpredictability of life.

Don’t Keep Your Feelings to Yourself

It may be tempting not to discuss such a dire situation at all and to focus on something else. But this will only increase your anxiety and divide you. Do not be afraid to tell each other that you are hurt and scared. This will give you the opportunity to support your partner.

The most difficult thing in long-distance relationships is often not the distance itself, but uncertainty.

Discuss The Situation

In and of itself, geographical distance from a partner is not a sentence. The beliefs and expectations of each partner also influence the relationship. In separation, you may encounter unclear boundaries in the relationship, especially if you have rarely discussed them before. It is important to come to an agreement on all important points:

  • In what type of relationship do you stay: pause or shift to long-distance?
  • Whether sexual or romantic interactions with other people are allowed;
  • How will you divide the budget now (if it was shared)?
  • How you can support each other and how it’s not worth it.

Make A Strategy

The hardest part of a long-distance relationship is often not the distance itself, but the uncertainty. Even if the planning horizon has reached a certain point, try to at least tentatively agree on further actions. Understand when you can meet, at least for a little while, and what it depends on. Think about what both parties need to do to reunite.

How to Survive the Forced Separation

Look For Something To Rely On

Most likely, relationships occupied a significant part of your life and made it more meaningful and fulfilling. Now it is important for each of you to find something that you can rely on in addition to relationships. It can be studying, a new hobby, or helping other people. Research shows that separation is also an opportunity for partners to learn something new about themselves because both are forced to look for a sustaining meaning of life outside of the relationship.

Attempt To Maintain Contact

If you have agreed that the relationship will continue, it is important to make an effort. Many things don’t work the same way when you’re separated: you can’t just hug your partner after a fight or watch a show in an embrace to feel close.

If physical intimacy is not possible, you need to maintain a symbolic one; this can be an exchange of messages, photos, or phone calls. Keep in mind that everyone’s needs are different. For someone, constant correspondence is comfortable, while for someone else it is more convenient to call up at a clearly defined time, for example, in the morning and in the evening. Come up with your own little rituals and traditions that will help you feel the presence of a loved one in your life, even at a distance.

Seek Help

Research shows that the better a person copes with their negative experiences, the easier it is for them to build a connection with a partner, even away from each other.

If earlier you used to rely entirely on your partner for emotional support, now you need to try to find an opportunity to lean on other people as well. For example, it could be parents, close friends, or a psychologist. A specialist will help you live through a difficult period and find the resources within yourself to cope with all the difficulties. Couple therapy may also be helpful.

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