Long distance relationships (LDR) are becoming more common with the way the world is growing in population and yet becoming smaller as a result of technological accessibility. More people are choosing to make their LDR work because of the access to a variety of communication methods. For some, it could be moving away for college, studying abroad for a semester or for others it is leaving home for better career opportunities in other cities or indeed, emigrating to a different country.
According to a 2018 study conducted by KIIROO, 58% of Americans in long-term relationships will stay together. A LDR comes with its own unique challenges, but it has the potential to be just as strong as a proximal relationship.
Geographical separation can be a tough concept to get your head around and sometimes can be a real struggle for everyone involved. Packing all your belongings, finding a place to live, establishing new routines and making new friends, it is no wonder that staying in touch with family back home tends to get pushed aside.
When it comes to keeping in touch with friends and family while abroad, the most important thing is the commitment to keep in contact and the effort everyone is willing to give to maintain their relationship.
Before the big move, it is a good idea to have a special item to remind you of your loved ones. This could be a piece of jewelry, a stuffed animal or an item of clothing. The item does not have to be expensive but it should definitely hold special meaning for you. This keepsake will serve as a tactile reminder that will encourage you to maintain your relationship from afar.
How do you communicate with your family members or friends who live far away from you?
The best way to stay connected is to make a plan and stick to it.
- Allocating a time for a face to face or phone call at the same time every week will stop other matters interfering with your alotted time.
- Organizing a family quiz with family relatives once a month will get everyone involved and allow a light hearted interaction to occur without putting too much social strain on everyone. A quiz is a wonderful way to get the conversation flowing.
- Writing a physical letter every now and then is a lovely personal touch that both the writer and the receiver will get a lot of love and satisfaction from.
- Sending a carefully thought out care package to loved ones with their favorite items inside is another beautiful idea that will make the receiver feel special. The items inside do not have to break the bank. It could be something as simple as their favorite snacks, a little note or recent photographs of the family.
- Starting a book or movie club is a creative way to maintain contact. The club can meet once or twice a month where you get the opportunity to discuss the movie or book in great detail. This is a great way to continue staying in touch with one another.
What is the best way to handle family distance?
- Establish good communication routines with family that go with your weekly schedules. Once you are settled in your new place, make sure to communicate the best times that work for you. When schedules are taken into consideration, the rest of the communication will be plain sailing. The designated time does not have to be the exact same each week.
- Communicate which hours you are both free each week for your family to stay in touch and then assign a time each week where you will connect
- Write down how you are feeling when you miss your loved ones. This works best in countries with a time difference as you can recall your journalled thoughts the next time you get to speak with one another.
- Quality over quantity. Good quality interactions are better than short conversations that happen regularly. Rather than calling when you are busy, try waiting for a time where the standard of conversation is better and void of interruptions or distractions.
- Create a family group chat . A private messaging service is a great way to stay up to date on a daily basis with pictures and voice messages. It is made easier as most older generations are becoming more accepting of technology and it’s very easy to use. Apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook messenger work really well and are totally free.
A recent study by Dr Linda Kaye and Dr Sally Quinn found that using an online chat system to connect with friends and family, can have a positive impact on our self-esteem and overall well-being.
How to connect with distant relatives?
Organize a Trip
It is a wonderful idea to organize a trip to visit one another. It sets a milestone that both parties can look forward to reaching especially when long distance can be so challenging. The destination can be somewhere in the middle or a completely different location. The choice is yours! Once a destination is chosen , you and your family can have a fantastic time planning the itinerary together! This gives you a new topic of discussion where you can learn more about traveling together and what things you might like to do together.
Stay up to date
Try your best to stay updated on the names of new friends or boyfriends or girlfriends. This will show your loved one that you care and you are interested in their lives. This will also save valuable time during phone calls where one person is retelling a story of what happened. Learn the name of the company they are working for, where they live in their new city. You could even look up concerts or sports events close by and see if you could maybe organize a trip over to attend them together. Read reviews of restaurants in the area and suggest them to your loved ones.
Big family occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or anniversaries can be a great way to catch up with loved ones on a live face to face call. You can open gifts at the same time and family will get to see each other’s reactions as things unfold. You can also play different games together like bingo or charades. Games do not require much equipment but they may require some small planning. Time difference can be a challenge in this regard but can be easily overcome with careful planning well in advance.
Put pen to paper
While our digital culture has made everything virtually available, there's something beautiful about getting a handwritten letter in the letterbox from someone we love. It’s a fantastic opportunity to teach the kids how to share their feelings by writing them down on paper whilst keeping loved ones updated on their lives. If a letter seems daunting or time consuming, there’s always an email!
Try something different
Good relationships are the number one factor in well-being and happiness according to a 75-year-long Harvard study. According to research, for every 1 negative feeling or interaction in a relationship, there must be 5 positive feelings or interactions to overcome it and make it a healthy relationship. Lovebox is a way to send instant positive messages to loved ones and helps keep the magic alive in relationships.
Lovebox has helped over 200k users connect with family especially during COVID that were badly impacted by the travel restrictions. It addresses the issues facing people who have loved ones that are far away for one reason or another. College students, romantic & long distance relationships, parents with teenagers abroad or grandchildren living away from home.
Lovebox can also function well as a product for those in relationships with people with specific needs or learning disabilities that may have verbal barriers or indeed be non-verbal. Love is for absolutely everyone and that is why Lovebox caters for all!
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Moving away from loved ones is by no means an easy task. Whether it's starting a new career, getting a degree or embarking on a long distance relationship online, it can appear very daunting in the beginning. However, with a carefully thought out plan, a little bit of organizing and some of the creative ideas above. I’m sure everyone can agree, it can indeed be a magical experience for everyone!
If you haven’t already, check out some of the Lovebox products here!