There are so many social consequences to the current pandemic, it’s hard to predict how they will affect our relationships in the long term. While many people are stuck living together 24/7, others are experiencing a forced separation. In either scenario, the question begs: how do you keep a relationship alive in times of social distancing?  

Really, it’s a bit like being in a long-distance relationship. You might be separated from your partner because they live with an older or high-risk relative. Maybe you were in different locations when the stay-at-home orders were put in place, and you weren’t able to travel to get back together. Or you may have been in a long-distance relationship before this all started. And now you have to wait much longer to see each other than you thought.

Regardless of why you are apart – it’s important to know how to stay emotionally connected in these challenging times. Here is our guide for enduring separation in long-distance relationships and beyond.

The Pros and Cons of A Long-Distance Relationship

For some people, long-distance relationships are hands down the best relationship structure. To know how to keep a relationship alive under these circumstances though, we must first look at its benefits and challenges.

Pros of a Long-Distance Relationship Include:

  1. You get a lot of freedom in your daily life. For people who value their freedom, this can be ideal. 
  2. In between bouts of freedom, you get to have very focused time with your partner. People in long-distance relationships usually set aside all distractions during the brief periods they get together. This type of focus can be very satisfying.
  3. A long distance relationship can keep the honeymoon phase going for a long time. When you live in close proximity to your partner, you start getting used to seeing them. That’s when the blemishes and incompatibilities become visible.

    However, if you are in a long-distance relationship, there is often a lot of longing and missing each other. Then, tons of excitement when you do see each other. This can be wonderful if you are the romantic type. You may be able to keep the image of your partner’s best self far longer alive than when you are dealing with them on a daily basis.
How to maintain a long-distance relationship

Cons of a Long Distance Relationship:

  1. If one or both of you need a lot of touch, intimacy or reassurance around the connection, it could be difficult to get enough of it. Long-distance relationships are particularly difficult for those whose love languages include touch or quality time.  
  2. Conflict resolution can be hard. Arguments and disagreements are a normal part of any long term relationship. However, they can sometimes be harder to resolve at a distance. A lot of what you read in the other person can be misinterpreted over the phone or video. You may be more likely to stay in your head than share your feelings. Additionally, the ways we have of reconnecting and re-bonding – such as touch or sex – are not readily available in a long-distance conflict.
  3. The relationship may be less integrated into your day-to-day life. People often get attached to one another’s family and friends which can be another source of couples bonding. This is less likely to occur in a long-distance relationship.

To counteract the cons, it’s helpful to have some tools for how to be intimate in a long distance relationship. 

Maintaining a Long-Distance Relationship

There are some wonderful ways to successfully maintain a long-distance relationship.

On of the most lovely is internal – and is about keeping the person you love in your daily thoughts. Even if you aren’t with someone all the time, you can still take them with you in your mind.

As you move through your daily routines, bring a memory to your mind or imagine their smile. If you do something fun, picture what it would be like if they were there with you. When you speak to them next time, you can share what it was like having them there with you, mentally. How it would have felt or been different.

Letting a person know you are thinking of them consciously can often feel really good – both for you and them. If you enjoy taking your partner along with you in an imaginary way, but they don’t respond favorably, they may have fears of losing their autonomy. If that’s the case, you can still enjoy the thought – maybe just don’t share it.

Long-distance relationships also thrive if you keep the romance alive. Let’s look at a few ways you can wow your partner.

Romantic Ideas for Long Distance Relationships

Letter writing is a romantic idea for long-distance relationships

It’s one thing to keep steady contact in the relationship. Yet it’s an entirely different level to keep up the romance across the physical divide. If you are wondering how to be intimate in a long-distance relationship, here are some ideas to keep the romance going:

  1. Love Letters – In a world of efficient communication, emails, text messages, and video calls, it’s possible to lose the sense of excitement and wonder that comes from receiving a letter in the mail. Waiting for a deeply personal, hand-written missive about all the ways your lover feels about you can really increase the passion in your relationship. Some of the most romantic couples in history have sent letters to each other for years when they were unable to be together.
  2. A Personal Gift – Nothing says romance more than giving your lover something you know they will really enjoy. If you listen carefully, you get a sense of what is most interesting and important to them. Maybe they’ve mentioned their favorite flower. Or you have a shared experience you can commemorate with a token. For example, if you went to a museum together and found a favorite painting, sending them a print of that painting means they will remember that shared joy every time they see it.
  3. A Nightly (or Daily) Ritual – One way you can feel romantically connected every day is to share a ritual that says “You are in my heart” right now. Perhaps each of you takes a picture of the moon and sends it to each other every night. Or you have some special scavenger hunt that keeps an eye out for a picture to take that symbolizes your connection. Maybe you have a special phrase that you text to each other before sleep or in the morning, like “This is your day, gorgeous.”

Sexting Ideas for Long-Distance Relationships 

If you are living apart, you’re probably looking for sexting ideas for long-distance relationships. But for that sexting to really work, you need to combine it with other types of connection. Unless you are both extremely independent, one or both of you will probably need reassurance of the attachment connection – both emotional and erotic. So to stay emotionally connected while apart, you want to intersperse loving texts with sexts.

Here are some specific sexting ideas for long-distance relationships: send a loving text saying, “I miss you so much, I miss your (smile, eyes, strong arms around me, etc.)” and then add, “Do you want to have a sexting date tonight? I need to tell you everything I want to do to you when I see you next?”

Striking this balance will help you stay connected. Need more inspiration? Check out our How to Sex – and Become a Master article.

How to stay emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship

Sexting Might Not Be Enough

With long-distance relationships, sometimes what you need more than sexting is to hear each other’s voice or see each other’s face.

The great thing about modern technology is that you can set up a voice or video call to keep the connection. If you are feeling frisky, you can even have a naked video date! Living in different time zones can make it hard to set up regular face-to-face dates though. Try instead to voice record sexy messages and send them to your partner.

How A Sex Coach Can Help

Whether you are forced by social distancing to be apart or you have already been having a long-distance relationship – we hope you got some great ideas about how to keep a relationship alive during challenging times.

As mentioned, one of the biggest challenges of long-distance relationships is conflict resolution. If these conflicts are about sex, a sex coach can be helpful and work with you in a video call. If the conflict is about other issues, you may need a relationship coach.

Find a sex coach in your area – or check out this directory of online sex coaches.

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Danielle Harel
Danielle Harel is the co-founder of the Somatica® Institute. She trains coaches in the Somatica® Method of Sex and Relationship Coaching, and has her own private practice in Sunnyvale, where she supports her clients in having amazing sex and relationships as well as passion-fueled lives. She has published original research on Orgasmic Birth and is the co-author of three books: Cockfidence, Making Love Real, and Coming Together. Danielle has her Masters in Clinical Social Work From Haifa University in Israel, and her PhD in Human Sexuality from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS). She is also a Clinical Sexologist, Certified Sexological Bodyworker and a Certified Body Positive Facilitator.