So the poly community has a large number of long distance relationships. It’s hardly surprising when you take into account that our dating pool is a specific subset of the norm and that we are open to more long distance relationships when we know that we and our loves are free to see other people.
That said; relationships can be tricky to maintain under the best of circumstances and LDRs even more so. Whether your partners are a few hours away or an ocean away, you are dealing with a new level of difficulty.
Advances in communication such as the internet, FaceTime and so on have become a big part of bridging the distance and keeping that fire kindled, but this piece is about not only keeping the relationship alive, but also keeping it healthy.
So we all know in the poly and kinky scenes, the adage of ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’ gets thrown around a lot, but that is because it’s true: communication is key.
The first tip to making long distance work is the same as making face-to-face relationships work.
This is important in any relationship, but especially so in long distance relationships because often, words are the only tools we have available.
In LDRs, we miss out on the vast majority of the way we connect and express ourselves. When talking with someone face to face we have subtle clues about emotion and meaning; micro gestures and tonal shifts, etc. FaceTime and Skype etc lose so much of the subtle nuance of human interaction as well as the ability to do one of the things we all need: Touch (I could have sworn I wrote a piece on touch starvation. Future me: find it and link here!)
As discussed before, touch is a small but powerful tool which is an often under utilised, yet vital part of how we communicate.
As I write this section, I have one of my loves napping on my shoulder on the London Underground. Being a comfy pillow is definitely the most important trait to look for in prospective partners.
As for why touch is so important: it helps us to relax in times of stress, eases our troubles (hence why alternative medicines are seen to be so effective: touch boosts our oxytocin production, which helps us to feel happier, creates stronger bonds and feel as though we are getting better from whatever ailment we have been suffering.
A hand on the arm during an argument can shift the dynamic away from one of conflict and into one of resolution, a warm hand on our neck invokes feelings of safety and contentment. A single nail dragged over skin can speak more than a full conversation (though you should still have those conversations).
When in LDRs, you lose all of these possible non-verbal communication styles; all you have is your words…
…so use them to their full extent. This doesn’t mean getting more grandiose (or indeed, more verbose) than usual, but what it does mean is that you will have to ask for what you need.
Don’t imply, hint or suggest that something happen; ask for it. Be prepared to hear ‘no’, but ask all the same. If you feel that you are not having your needs met, you have to tell your partner this. Tell your partner if you are feeling jealous of the time they are spending with other people or doing other things.
Tell them what you miss about them, what you appreciate about them, what makes them special to you. You need to start filling those gaps where you previously could communicate with touches.
And speaking of filling the gaps…
Schedule regular dates.
Whether it’s online or face to face, one of the most important parts of keeping a relationship going is keeping the excitement.
In long distance relationships, this gets more difficult as the distance cuts down on your ability to start up something impromptu.
In order to adapt, you need to substitute impulsive fun for two things which work just as well: regularity and anticipation.
Having regular dates gives you something that you can use to fight off the pangs of homesickness and separation.
The thing to remember though is to not let those regular dates become boring. Scheduling in regular dinner dates over Skype is great so long as it doesn’t become routine, much like dating face to face would be if you only ever went to the same place, ate the same food and so on.
Even with naughtiness: mix up what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, etc etc etc. If you’re in an open relationship, maybe even mix up *who* you are doing things with (provided everyone consents).
Other ideas for online fun:
- Each go watch a movie then call to talk about it.
- Sexy chat session
- Going for a walk and face timing during.
- Playing video games online
But just as important as having regular fun while you are apart is; more important is that you have regular in-person visits. There is nothing so satisfying as having your love around in the flesh for some skin-to-skin contact.
Ok, this piece is getting quite long, so I will post it up and get part two out in the next couple of days, as well as edit this half so that it has links, etc.
For now: stay sexy.