Love at a Distance

How do you maintain your couple relationship when you are geographically separated.  How do you sustain connection, closeness and trust in a long-distance relationship?

You may be apart through work commitments or to look after an elderly relative. You may live in separate homes.  You may travel extensively for work and spend several nights or weeks apart. You may be a young couple attending different Universities. How do you remain close when you are apart?

The obvious potential problem with these long-distance relationships is the risk of one or other of you being unfaithful.  The less obvious potential is for you to become detached in more ways than just distance.  The opportunity for connectedness is limited due to the amount of time you can spend together.

When life is so tightly time-tabled, and life together is minimal then that time together becomes important and potentially pressurised.

The couple can feel the pressure to have a good time; pressure to sort out domestic arrangements; pressure to talk about difficult subjects which cannot be dealt with over the phone; pressure to please and pressure to be pleased; pressure to prove to each other that the relationship is working; pressure to have great sex; pressure to be OK, to not be ill and to be generally cheerful for the duration.

All this pressure can ruin the little time you do have together because there is no room to just 'be' together.

When the daily contact and physical closeness is absent for much of the week it takes time to reconnect in a shared space.  Soon Sunday comes round again and there follows the pressure and sadness of parting, the sense of separation and for some, the sense of abandonment.

Not much of your life is shared.  The pattern is of coming and going - of flux.

It may be that the most time you spend together is on holiday, away from domesticity and work responsibilities.  Holidays may work very well as time to reconnect and remember why you are a couple but this time away may equally be blighted by bottled-up emotions and unresolved issues unspoken for months because of lack of time.  The lack of time inevitably creates the need to hurry-up; to fit it all in; to make it work.

If this is a familiar pattern, and your relationship is suffering, it is time to re-evaluate your chosen life-style and ask yourself questions about how real is the necessity to live in this way. Is there another way to structure your lives? How can you maximise just 'being' and 'connecting' when you do have time together?

'Absence sharpens love,
 presence strengthens it' - Thomas Fuller


Fear of truly Loving

If we have been stung by a bee, we may be wary of bees lest they sting us again and recreate the same pain.

Likewise to be hurt in love can make us wary about allowing ourselves to truly love again for fear of being hurt again.

A woman who is committed to her partner and has her partner cheat on her may feel so betrayed that she decides all men will hurt her; add to this perhaps a father who let her down in childhood and she is well on her way to never trusting a man again and never allowing herself to truly love again.

Equally if a young man is frequently lied to by his mother - perhaps she hides her drinking - when in later years his wife is caught using on-line chat rooms, the lying will be totally destructive to his trust of her and he may also decide all women are not to be trusted.

When the heart has been 'broken' it is difficult to throw caution to the wind and fall deeply in love once more - not impossible, but difficult. There is a fear of truly loving.

Humans learn from their experience and if something has hurt before (like the bee) they are resistant to opening themselves up to the possibility of repeating that experience.

This is a protective mechanism which would have served us well in a more primal setting to avoid complacency amongst the dangers of snakes, wolves and bears.  However, when we demonstrate caution in our relationships, we close ourselves off to truly loving and with that we also lose the possibility of ever having a deeply satisfying connection with the one that we love .

Bertrand Russell: Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.