Jennifer Craig is a long-distance relationship success story. She started SurviveLDR for women who want to survive and thrive in long-distance relationships. For more advice on how to make long-distance relationships work, follow her on Instagram, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
It is so easy to get lost in the negative of long-distance relationships: feeling alone all of the time, missing each other, dealing with jealousy, friends and family who just don’t understand. But there are so many positives about long-distance relationships, too! I rarely had to put on makeup, and I only shaved right before a reunion (hello, mini vacations!). My communication skills got remarkably better. Just-because gifts are the best. And there’s nothing better than finally seeing each other in person after a while.
For years, my long-distance partner and I dealt with time differences (he lived in the Netherlands, and I lived in the U.S.), frustrating misunderstandings and confusing circumstances. We did everything we could to make our long-distance relationship work—and I mean everything—and I am happy to say we bridged the gap and recently got married.
If you want to do the same, the key is to stay positive despite the distance. Whether you choose to be grateful, poke fun at each other or capitalize on good news, a little positivity goes a long way in keeping your relationship replenished. Here are five ways to I’ve found to stay positive despite the distance.
Put on the Rose-colored Glasses
In long-distance relationships, rose-colored glasses can be dangerous. Because your partner isn’t there every day, you can conjure up this image in your mind of the perfect man — and sometimes, those visions can be quite different from reality. Be careful of this halo effect too early in relationships. It’s easy to idealize someone when they live far away.
However, if you really know your partner and are right for each other, putting on those rose-colored glasses every now and then can actually be the secret to a healthy relationship.
A paper by the Australian Institute of Family Studies found that focusing on positive traits is the best way to make a relationship last. “Individual partners feel happier when their spouse or partner has a ‘shinier’ view of them than they have of themselves,” the researchers write in the paper. Selectively focusing on your partner’s best traits — their bright smile, their sense of humor, their romantic text messages — can lead to more relationship satisfaction.
Also, keep the self-criticism to a minimum, and allow your partner to have those same rosy glasses on when thinking about you.
Surround Yourself with Positive People
One of the best ways to stay positive is to surround yourself with positive people. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” says American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn. So identify positive people in your life, and schedule time with the on a regular basis. Whenever I was down in the dumps about the distance between me and my man, a lunch date with a pleasant girlfriend or a walk in the park with a jovial co-worker always brightened my spirits.
When you surround yourselves with positive people, you’re better able to refocus your thoughts and choose your attitude. With a renewed energy, make a conscious effort to choose your attitude. Take a deep breath, and decide you’re going to stay positive.
Practice a Loving-Kindness Meditation
Being positive is about more than just laughing and having fun. It’s also about gratitude. One of the best ways I’ve found to recenter myself when I’m being a Negative Nancy is to practice loving-kindness meditation. This type of meditation focuses on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness and warmth towards others. One study found that after just seven weeks of practicing the loving-kindness meditation, participants reported increased levels of love, joy, contentment, gratitude, pride, hope, interest, amusement and awe.
If you want a five-minute fix, here’s how to do it. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, and breathe deeply. Say or think these phrases several times:
May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger. May I be safe and protected.
May I be free of mental suffering or distress.
May I be happy.
May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.
Now, direct the phrases at different people, including, a respected, beloved person, such as a spiritual teacher; a dearly beloved, such as your long-distance love; a neutral person, such as your local barista; and a hostile person, such as a difficult co-worker. Finally, direct the phrase toward everyone universally.
Not only does this loving-kindness meditation produce momentary good feelings, but it also increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions, activates empathy in the brain, makes you a more helpful person, curbs self-criticism, and provides relief from illnesses.
Even though my husband and I closed the gap, we still practice loving-kindness meditation.
Get Back in Touch
When close-distance couples need a little pick-me-up, they can just reach out and get a hug or have regular sex. Us long-distance couples have to work a little harder. But nothing made the distance easier to bear than getting back in touch with my partner — even if it was over the airwaves.
To boost your positivity and your connection with your mate, it’s time to expand your definition of sex. Luckily, with technology, it’s getting easier and easier to keep the love (and lust) alive from a distance. And I’m not just talking about Skype! With the long-distance sex toys that are available now, you might even find that your sex life is more exciting than it’s ever been.
Whatever long-distance sex toy you choose — from Lovense’s his and hers sex toys, the Max and Nora, to Vibease’s wearable vibrator — it’s going to add some spice to your long-distance love and put a smile on your face.
Focus On Yourself
Sometimes in long-distance relationships, you can wind up focusing too much on your partner and wind up losing yourself. Don’t forget to invest in your own life and happiness. If you’re going through a rough patch, focus on taking positive action in your own life. Here are some of my favorite go-to self-care activities when I need to cope with stress and negativity.
Start a compliments file about great things people say about you.
Unplug for an hour.
Get a massage.
Take yourself out to eat.
Do a craft project.
Read poetry or inspiring quotes.
Spend time in nature.
Go for a bike ride.
Go on a lunch date with a good friend.
By taking care of yourself, you’ll put more positivity back into the relationship, too.
Conflict and frustrations are normal in any relationship, especially long-distance relationships. And although it’s important to avoid those, it’s just as important to maximize the positive. Whether that’s through teaching each other, providing support, or focusing on yourself, you can perk up your relationship through positivity. Instead of moving away from what’s bad, move toward what’s good with these five ways to stay positive despite the distance. The more positive you are, the more fun, more growth, better sex and more sustained intimacy you’ll experience in your relationship. Trust me.