What Does Emotional Intimacy Look Like In A Long-Distance Relationship? 7 Signs You're Keeping Your Connection Strong
As someone who's been in a serious long-distance relationship, I can attest to the fact that when it comes to emotional intimacy things are very different from relationships that aren't long distance. For starters, communication and the ability to do it clearly and effectively is absolutely essential, as is trusting your partner without hesitation or suspicion. In other words, establishing intimacy in a long-distance relationship is quite a bit harder than in a relationship where the partners get to see each other on a regular basis.
"The level of connectedness for a long distance relationship must rival that of those couples who have the luxury of being together," bestselling author and relationship expert, Susan Winter, tells Bustle. "Long-distance couples must work double duty to make sure they're sensitive to their partner’s needs. They understand that speaking to each other is a harder task to accomplish. They must learn to anticipate each other’s needs in advance."
In some ways, couples in a successful LDR are more in touch with each other, emotionally and mentally, than those who don't have to do the long distance thing, because the physical distance sort of forces them to communicate more. But, no matter how you slice it, being in a long-distance relationship presents a whole new set of challenges and because of that, emotional intimacy looks different.
1. You're In Each Other's Brain At All Times
As much as it might be scary, especially for those who have never found themselves in an LDR, one of the big factors of emotional intimacy for people in long distance relationship is being on top of each other's emotions at all times. This basically means always being in their brain.
"Heightened emotional sensitivity plus intuition enables each partner to proactively nip an issue in the bud," says Winter. "Their relationship will live or die according to this ability."
2. You Put Communication Front & Center
Communication is definitely a huge part of building emotional intimacy in any relationship, but when it comes to long-distance relationships, it's even more paramount. In fact, studies have found that people in long-distance relationships communicate better than those who aren't in LDRs because in place of physical time together, all they have is communication.
"The distance factor tends to create a sense of insecurity," says Winter. "Everything is harder for a long-distance couple. Knowing that, they find themselves trying harder to be exceedingly clear in all their communication."
3. You Jump Ahead To Solve An Issue
If your emotional intimacy is mostly communication and being in each other's heads, then that ultimately means having the ability to see where an issue might arise and resolve it before it has a chance to become a problem.
"[People in long distance relationships] know not to let an issue go unsettled," says Winter. "To do so, could create the end of their relationship."
4. You Heighten Your Awareness Of Each Other
Although intimacy can come in many forms, a heightened awareness of your partner's emotions is essential in long-distance relationship. As Winter tells me, emotional intimacy is in a long-distance relationship is complete "awareness of their partner's emotional landscape." While that might sound exhausting to those who aren't in LDRs, for those who are, it becomes second nature, because it has to become second nature in order for the relationship to survive.
5. You Don't Second-Guess Your Partner
While it's absolutely human nature to second-guess, have doubts, and even be a bit paranoid sometimes, emotional intimacy in a long distance relationship involves "unwavering trust in their partner," according to Winter. No matter where your partner goes or who they go with, those in LDRs don't even bat an eye; they trust without reservation.
6. You Truly Understand The Physical Distance
It's one thing to be in a long-distance relationship, but to be in one and have the emotional intimacy necessary to make it work it's all about understanding the physical distance on a deeper plain than just simply being apart. According to Winter, emotional intimacy in LDRs is marked by "resiliency in handling that separation" and realizing this separation is less about miles and hours apart, and more about dealing with it in a healthy and positive way.
7. Sharing Common Goals
While sharing common goals might not seem like a necessity for emotional intimacy for a couple that sees each other all the time, for those in a long-distance relationship, having a common end goal, for the relationship especially, is like a light at the end of the tunnel. These shared goals, whether it's getting engaged or choosing a location to be together in the future, in some way, give hope and fuel to an LDR when things are feeling bleak. "Staying accountable to their word and keeping to a timeline of achievement is a must for a LDR to survive," Winter says.
As you can see, maintaining emotional intimacy in LDRs isn't impossible by any means. It requires effective communication, trust, problem-solving skills, and compassion — all incredibly valuable tools for any relationship.