The Long Distance Relationship – How to Make it Thrive in Spite of the Distance

goldfish jumping out of the water - love concept

long distance relationship – surviving the distance

 

While the old saying Absence makes the heart grow fonder may apply in the occasional short-term separation, for the couple trying to make a long distance relationship work, the miles apart can prove to be a real challenge. All that time apart is the reason many people are skeptical about getting involved in a long-distance relationship. But the good news is that a long distance relationship has just as much chance of surviving as any other relationship if you’re willing to commit to doing what it takes to make it work. So for those of you in or considering a long distance relationship, here are some tips on how to make it thrive in spite of the distance.

First, let’s address the problems created by a long distance relationship. These problems are known to increase anxiety and thus make the relationship feel more fragile and susceptible to a breakup. Then I’ll offer tips to tackle these problems and help you minimize their effects.

Some of the problems shared by long distance couples include:

Fears of cheating or lack of commitment – Because you’re not around each other, the distance makes it harder to know what the other person is doing. It’s as though he has a whole other life apart from you. And all of that distance means you have a lot more time to think about and worry over what he’s up to! This can lead to feelings of mistrust, especially if you’re in a situation where you feel more committed to the relationship than he appears to be.

Feelings of disconnect – Distance means you aren’t a part of each other’s day to day lives and don’t share in the routine things like hooking up with friends after work, watching a favorite TV show, or being a part of a family function. This can make it more difficult to maintain a sense of connection. It’s the simple things we share when we see each other regularly that connect us. You don’t get to laugh together over the lopsided cake your mom baked. He’s less likely to tell you about how lucky he was to avoid the fender-bender that almost happened on the way to work this morning.

Loneliness – Isolating yourself from activities because you fear temptations or you don’t want to be the only solo in a room full of couples can create a sense of loneliness. It’s like going through life in a holding pattern – waiting to be with the person you love in order to join in and start living.

Lack of intimacy – Physical contact is important. Kissing, hugging, and even hand-holding are all critical forms of touching needed for bonding and to provide feelings of security and love. Distance leaves us feeling vulnerable. He isn’t there to give you a hug after a bad day at work or snuggle on the couch watching a movie on a rainy night.

When will this end? – No relationship can remain long-distance forever. We need the assurance that the distance will eventually come to an end and have some sense of when that might be. Without it, the relationship can feel like running a marathon with no finish line. At some point, you become too fatigued to keep up the pace.

Unresolved arguments or issues – Because together time is limited, couples will often avoid bringing up difficult topics or discussing problems in an effort to keep everything copasetic. Who wants to ruin the only time you’ve had together in weeks! Then, when tensions become too great or issues boil over, the lack of face to face time makes it harder to resolve disagreements or dispel resentments. Over the phone is a tough way to fight and make up.

Tips to Help Your Long Distance Relationship Survive and Thrive

To make a long distance relationship less stressful and the downsides of separation more tolerable, couples must commit to working on a few critical things:

  • Create trust – I was always taught that trust is earned. And the only way to earn trust through distance is by engaging in clear communication, being honest and forthright, and following through with what you commit to do – like calling when you say you’ll call, not lying about going out with friends, thinking that what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. (A guy often underestimates the power of a woman’s intuition and ability to find out the truth!)
  • Prioritize ways to stay connected – Because you’ll be spending a lot of time apart, you have to make a conscious effort to stay connected. Modern technology, like Skype or Facetime, makes it so much easier to talk and see your partner at the same time. But you need other, more creative ways to keep the spark alive and share in the routine, day to day type activities. Send each other pictures or cute little notes, play an on-line game together, ship him a favorite dessert you make, etc. Here are some clever connection ideas.
  • Maintain clear, meaningful communication – It’s important to talk about your feelings and share even the most mundane events and daily encounters to increase a sense of connection. Tools like Instagram are a great way to capture and share in the moment – a picture of something funny, a pretty flower you saw, or a beautiful sunset and describe how it made you feel. Establishing communication rituals also helps, like a morning wake-up call or a coffee break text message exchange.
  • Don’t avoid the tough topics – You can’t avoid the tough subjects, like where your relationship is headed or when you’ll be together for good. Don’t let frustrations build up and fester. You have to talk things out. Sometimes distance is used by one party as a way to avoid commitment, so make sure you’re both on the same page about how you feel and the status of your relationship. I suggest scheduling the “talk” if you anticipate it being difficult or heated. This gives you both time to prepare and prevents a heat-of-the-moment confrontation. You’ll be less likely to say things you don’t mean or spring it on him when he’s already in a bad mood.
  • Schedule together time – Anticipation is part of the excitement of planning your visits; knowing when you’ll see each other again can make the time apart more bearable. How frequently you get together isn’t as critical as knowing when the next visit will be! So make it a priority to plan and schedule your next get together to give you both something to look forward to.
  • Discuss a target end date – No matter how much you love someone and want the relationship to last, at some point you have a right to expect a commitment from your partner that includes plans for ending the distance. Regardless of the obstacle(s) keeping you apart – job, money, schooling, or family – you can’t maintain the current status quo forever. Someone has to agree to make a change – give up a job, commit to a move. And if neither of you is willing to budge, then you better engage in a serious discussion about whether physical distance is the real obstacle keeping you apart. Never-ending excuses are often a sign of an unwillingness to commit to the relationship.
  • Stay engaged and keep busy – You each have a life that needs living so make sure you get out there and do it! Enlist the support of family and friends to keep you actively engaged socially where you live. Having activities and hobbies that keep you busy will help minimize anxiety, make time apart pass more quickly, and help you avoid getting too obsessed with your long distance relationship. This is especially important in the early stages of a relationship when there isn’t a clear commitment as to where the relationship is headed.
  • Mutual desire and effort to make it work – You both have to want the relationship and put in the effort to make it work in spite of the distance. While you shouldn’t try to keep score – who calls the most or who traveled to see who last – a one-sided relationship where one person is doing all the work to stay connected and keep the relationship going will lead to trouble.

I hope these tips help you make the most of your relationship while apart. Making a long distance romance and relationship work requires a little extra effort and creativity but it can certainly be worth it if you believe you’ve found the lasting love you truly want and deserve.

Have some great tips of your own? I’d love to hear some of your creative ways and advice for making your long distance relationship work for you, so please share and I’ll in turn share on Facebook!

Until next time, remember to: Live Smart and Be Savvy in Love!

Shark Week – Thousands of Shark Sightings Across the Country

One of Ten Types of Men You Shouldn't Date and Must Throwback

One of Ten Types of Men You Shouldn’t Date and Must Throwback

Yes, the sharks are everywhere and making headlines. So, what better time than Shark Week to remind all you ladies to be on the lookout for those illusive predators. Okay, so I’m pulling your leg a little and not talking about the actual ocean variety of shark, but rather the nickname I’ve given to the type of throwback guy who can’t be trusted – the liar, cheater, or con man whose activities are definitely on the fishy side. But I’m deadly serious about the thousands of Shark sightings across the country reported by women who have fallen victim to their manipulative games. You don’t even have to put your toe in the water to run the risk of an encounter with one of these classic Mr. Wrongs so adept at pulling you in, hook, line and sinker.

The Shark: One of Ten Types of Men You Must Throwback

The Shark is #6 on my list of the Ten Types of Men You Must Throwback and the focus of this week’s blog post. He’s a liar who can’t be trusted. Whether he’s the guy pretending to be single who just happens to have a wife hidden away somewhere, or the guy trying to ensnare you in a romantic con-game for money, the Shark gets his name from his well-honed skills of deception and the way he preys on vulnerable women. If you’re willing to put up with his cheating ways, accept his lies as truths, or buy into his con, then you are the perfect Shark bait! (Download The Throwback Cheatsheet infographic here to see all ten types of men to avoid and why.)

The Shark comes in all sizes and manner of attack. He might be the smooth-talking, “out-of-town” salesman you meet in a bar or the on-line hunk whose dating-site bio reads like a dream come true. In fact, the increased use of on-line dating sites has contributed to a significant rise in Shark attacks. It’s there in the murky waters of the Internet that these highly skilled, con-artist Sharks like to engage in a little “Catfishing” – pretending to be someone they’re not, often in search of a woman they can defraud of money. This Shark can be in and out of your life as fast as it takes him to lure you in, make his kill, and run with the spoils.

But as cunning and sneaky as this Throwback may be, he’s not that hard to recognize if you’re willing to open your eyes to the warning signs. Here are a few, but you can learn more about the Shark, along with the other nine Throwbacks, and their early warning signs in my book Is He a Keeper?: Savvy Gal Secrets to Spotting Mr. Wrong and Hooking Mr. Right.

He’s Probably a Shark if:

  • The two of you have never met, yet he’s asking you for money or willing to accept your offer to send him money. He always has such a compelling story of misfortune and he’s a master at getting you to make an offer to help!
  • You’ve caught him in a blatant lie about something he has told you. It could be related to what he does for a living, where he’s from, who he’s been with, or even whether he’s been married before.
  • He’s uncomfortable talking about himself, his past, or his family.
  • You aren’t able to call him. He has to call you.
  • He paints a picture of himself that is almost too good to be true – money, good job, thriving business, important friends, fancy cars – then suddenly he’s dumping his “financial troubles” on you and needs to borrow some money from you.

Do any of those sound familiar? Then you’ve probably encountered a Shark!

Why You Should Avoid the Shark

If things about him just don’t seem right or don’t add up and you think you’ve strayed into Shark infested waters, the best thing you can do is get out quickly. Don’t waste your time with a Shark. Liars and cheaters don’t change. Follow your intuition. You don’t need to wait for proof or have your arm bitten off to take heed of the warning signs!

Until next time, remember to live smart and be savvy in love!

Does The Bachelorette Send Women the Wrong Message?

XXX 138830_2920.JPG D ENT USA CA(Photo courtesy of entertainthis.usatoday.com/2015/05/13)

Am I the only one bothered by the surprise twist to this season’s The Bachelorette? Instead of one lovely bachelorette choosing amongst twenty five bachelors all vying for a rose and ultimately her love, this season, we have two bachelorettes who must first compete for the right to choose. Meaning, we now have twenty five men choosing first which of the two women they want to pursue. Once again, the myth is subtly perpetuated that men are ultimately the ones doing the choosing and women must compete against each other to be chosen. I think Hollywood is guilty of a huge disservice when they send women the wrong message about love and dating.

The Bachelorette Message: Men Do the Choosing and Women Must Compete to be Chosen

I know some will say, “Isn’t that the whole idea of the show to begin with – a competition for love?” But this two-women-twenty-five-guys scenario is different. When one woman or one man is choosing amongst a group of suitors, it’s about that one chooser’s preferences for a mate. We accept that not everyone is attracted to the same person. But when a group of men are choosing between two women, suddenly the woman not chosen is made to look like a lot of men would rather have another woman over her. It’s her overall desirability that’s put into question. I find this insulting and degrading. Would they have ever thought to try this with the men? I highly doubt it. Why? Because men produce the shows we watch that promote the false message. Women, in turn, allow themselves to buy into the message, giving men the upper hand and control in relationships. Women seem to willingly accept the role of the subservient sex object who wants and needs the love of a man at all cost. How else can you explain, for example, our acceptance of a show depicting women as angels in provocative underwear parading down a runway on prime time television?

We Are Conditioned to Compete for a Guy’s Love at All Cost

Whether you liked Britt or not, I felt horrible for her as I watched her get into the limo in tears. This wasn’t about one man not choosing her, but a whole bunch of men casting a vote that they liked another woman better. This was much more personal and raw. Do we really enjoy watching other women in pain and rejected in love? My guess is the answer is ‘yes!’ Why? We’ve been conditioned by society that this is how the game is played. From an early age we’ve been taught to be competitors for the love and attention of men. For the longest time, boys were raised to participate in “team-building” sports. Girls were raised on beauty and popularity contests, like Homecoming Queen, and competing for limited spots in things like cheerleading, which just so happened to be about cheering on the boys! It’s all about winning. Being “chosen” validates us as women even if we shouldn’t want the guy doing the choosing!

We Are Conditioned to Love Men Who are Bad

This “Bachelor” franchise is certainly not alone in Hollywood’s desire to capitalize on male-female stereotypes, heightened sexual encounters, and over-the-top dating dramatizations. We have all kinds of popular depictions of attractive men as two-timing cads and as irresistible sexual dominators. TV shows like Mad Men have huge followings and, of course, we can’t leave out the phenomenon that has been Fifty Shades of Gray. And it’s the women who swoon over and flock to see these bad boys in action. What is it about our fascination with men behaving badly? Again, we have been conditioned to see “bad boys” as virile and exciting and their behavior as something to just expect and accept as part of their nature.

Women Must Give Up the False Beliefs about Love

I’m all for romance and women being feminine and attractive. But we must learn how to see ourselves as the ones doing the choosing and stop being exploited in the name of love. We must learn to give up the false beliefs about love that might get us the guy but leave us unhappy in our relationships. The only way Hollywood and the media will get the message is if we send it to them.

Until next time, remember to live smart and be savvy in love!

Can 36 Questions Help Couples Spark True Love?

The media has been abuzz lately over a scientific study involving a 36 question “sharing game” for couples. Some have touted the “game” as a way to trigger a love connection between two people in a very short amount of time. But, is that really possible? Can 36 questions help couples spark true love? With so many people thinking about Valentine’s Day and love, I needed to check this out.

It turns out the actual focus of the study, conducted by social psychologist Arthur Aron and published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, was on building interpersonal closeness. The study premise was that by answering a set of questions scientifically designed for sharing specific details about each other, a couple could very quickly create a sense of “closeness” even if they had just met for the first time. An application to speed dating, blind dates, and first-time, face-to-face encounters with an on-line dating match quickly came to mind. So, could you get someone to fall for you just by asking and answering a set of specific questions? I was intrigued, but not yet convinced.

How About Those 36 Questions?

The 36 questions study participants were required to ask each other were interesting, to say the least. They ran the gamut…

From the innocent:

#4 What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

 To the creepy:

#7 Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

 To the insightful:

#10 If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

 To even the uncomfortable:

#30 When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

While sharing answers to these questions may reveal a lot about another person that would normally take a much longer time to uncover, feeling “close” to someone could hardly be called a declaration of love.

Getting Close Doesn’t Equate to Love

In fact, the actual study results never talk about love and even state that the “closeness” experienced is just “similar” to the kind of real closeness that develops naturally in relationships over a period of time. In other words, what is experienced in the study only mimics a feeling of emotional chemistry between two people. While we know two people can experience physical chemistry almost instantaneously, emotional chemistry – the kind that produces loyalty and commitment – still takes time.

And yet, there does seem to be something to this sharing of personal information. It turns out that couples who meet on-line and marry, do so after a shorter courtship – 18 months on average – as compared to 36 months for couples who marry after meeting and dating through more traditional means. It seems that the sharing of “vital stats,” answering the lengthy dating-site questionnaires, and social media correspondence prior to meeting face-to-face creates connections that in turn, cut short the getting to know each other period of courtship. So, could there really be something to a set of revealing questions and the initiating of love?

Sadly, I’m not sure we can make that connection. Because, while the on-line daters who marry may have shorter courtships, the number of couples who meet on-line and go on to get married is actually quite low, statistically. It appears there is no substitute for face-to-face courtship.

How to Really Build Emotional Connection in a Relationship

So what is the take away here? Can playing a game of 36 questions really help you make a love connection with someone? I think the answer is ‘NO!’ But the study does tell us that communication and sharing, verbally, our thoughts, fears, desires, and dreams at a deep level can help us connect sooner in a relationship – or it could quickly send the other person running!

When it comes to romantic relationships, here is my advice on sharing and building an emotional love connection:

  • Sharing at a deeper level builds emotional chemistry and helps to bond two people together. So, share, yes, but not too much too quickly. It should be like pealing an onion, slowly, over time.
  • Get a guy to share beyond the basic facts and stats. The goal is to get him talking about his feelings, dreams, and desires. So, start with something easy for him. For example: If you met on-line, and he stated that his hobby was sailing, then ask questions to dig deeper. Ask him things like how old he was when he learned, who taught him, and what was it that drew him to sailing. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot more about him than just a sailing lesson.
  • When it comes to your past and any emotional wounds or tragedies, be careful what and how much you share. If you reveal the fact that you still haven’t gotten over the loss of your cat (who died two years ago), you could make a guy nervous. He might fear how you’d react if the two of you dated and it didn’t work out. Visions of “Fatal Attraction” pop in his head.
  • Actions speak louder than words. Regardless of what a guy says, it’s what he does that really counts. The guy who will walk your dog in the rain because you have a cold is the real Keeper!
  • In time, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. You want to make sure your core values align with those of your prospective mate. You don’t want to wait until you’re engaged to find out that he doesn’t really like kids and having children is a top priority for you!

In the end, good communication and emotional chemistry are essential to a healthy relationship. And, if the spark is there between two people (physical chemistry), sharing at a deeper level could very well help to ignite the flames and get the love fire burning. But real love takes time and no set of questions can make two people fall in love, no matter how revealing the questions and answers happen to be.

Dating Dos and Don’ts: When NOT to Makeup after a Breakup

When not to makeup after a breakup

Did you know that the month of December sees the greatest number of love relationship breakups in the course of a year? So, that means that January finds a lot of you experiencing what I call “post-traumatic breakup.” It’s that period of time shortly after a breakup when you’re feeling a whole range of powerful emotions and are the most vulnerable to doing something you might later regret – like trying to get back together with our Ex. So, if you find yourself teetering on the fence of whether to let go and move on or try to makeup and give your relationship another go at it, then you need to read my article for DigitalRomance.com on when NOT to makeup after a breakup.

Click here to read my seven compelling reasons for NOT trying to get back together with your Ex and what you should do instead.

Also, check out my article “How to Get Out of a Love Life Rut and Start Attracting Mr. Right” to learn five simple changes you can make to get out of your post-traumatic breakup period and moving forward towards the love you truly deserve.

As always, Live Smart and be Savvy in Love!

How to Get What You Want in Love and Life in 2015

Girls night out

 

With 2014 quickly drawing to a close, the final days of the year are often spent reflecting on the highs and lows of the past year, admonishing ourselves for where we fell short of our best laid plans, and then dusting ourselves off and committing to a new set of goals for the year ahead. But the sad truth is, in spite of our resolve to do better in 2015, many of us will again fail to keep those well-intentioned resolutions. We fail to recognize how to get what we want in love and life.

As much as we may want things to be different in our lives – more fulfilling relationships, better paying jobs, more fun, or a healthier body – we struggle to make the changes necessary to reach our goals.

So why is it so hard to stick to a plan and effect real change in our lives?

  • We don’t really like change - Let’s be honest. Change is hard, often uncomfortable, and downright scary at times. As much as we might dislike where we are – stuck in a dead-end relationship, going to a job every day that we hate, or looking in the mirror and not liking what we see – it’s often easier to do nothing or continue doing what we’ve always done. Avoiding change means we don’t have to give up anything (or anyone), we don’t have to try something new, and we don’t have to venture into that scary place of the unknown.
  • We get stuck in what I call rear-view mirror living - Haunted by the mistakes and losses of our past, we are unable to let go and move forward with our lives. We keep looking back, trying to figure out what went wrong or why things didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. We remain so focused on past hurts or disappointments that we are unable to envision, or even believe in, a different future. So we keep thinking about the guy that got away, rehashing what we should have done differently, or we shutdown altogether – locked in guilt, sadness, or anger over our past.
  • We don’t like to fail - In fact, research on human behavior finds that we actually hate failing more than we enjoy winning. In our minds, the risk of not getting what we want looms larger than any possibility of being better off. Those “What if” fears of losing can actually prevent us from doing what’s needed to win. What if we change and then find ourselves worse off? Or, what if we end a relationship and don’t meet someone new? So we rationalize that it’s not worth the risk – we may not be happy, but at least we’re not alone.
  • Old habits are hard to break - Inevitably, we’ll slip up or have a setback on the road to change. When we do, we’re great at talking ourselves out of sticking with our plan. Most of us are better at coming up with a list of reasons to quit than reasons to stay the course. We get lonely one night and call or text our ex and suddenly we’re sucked back in – telling ourselves we were never really good enough to attract someone better anyway.

Tips to Get What You Want in Love and Life

  • Create a vision of the life you want - In order to effect real change, you have to figure out what it is you truly want and make a list of the reasons why it’s important to you. Paint a vision of that life that is so clear and strong that it blurs everything else. The goal is to make the rewards of getting all that you desire greater than the risk you associate with potential failure. Then every time you waiver, get discouraged, or suffer a setback, you can pull out your list and recommit to all the reasons why it’s worth staying the course. If love is the thing you desire, then make sure you checkout my book Is He a Keeper?: Savvy Gal Secrets to Spotting Mr. Wrong and Hooking Mr. Right. It will give you the advice, tips and step by step plans to effect real change in your love life.
  • Embrace change with optimism – Sure it can be hard, uncomfortable, or scary. But, the biggest mistake you can make in life, and I know because I’ve been there, is to keep doing what you’ve always done – which may be nothing – and hope that the universe will somehow deliver to you a different outcome. While a little bit of divine intervention is always welcome, we have to be willing to do our part. Real change requires action on your part. When it comes to love, sometimes you have to go through the acute pain of a breakup in order to end the chronic pain of a doomed relationship. No pain; no gain!
  • Create a written plan to get you where you want to be – Break it down into manageable steps that create small wins along the way. It takes time and determination to effect real change so don’t expect a miracle overnight or beat yourself up if you slip up. The key is to not get discouraged and quit.
  • Don’t let your past dictate your future - What’s happened in the past is past; stop looking in the rear-view mirror. You’re starting fresh today from where you are now and charting a new course to the life you desire.
  • Model someone you know who’s successful. Having a role model or mentor gives you a pattern to follow and helps you keep your eye on the prize. When you see them living the kind of life you desire, it can really inspire you to stay committed to your goals.

Commit to making 2015 your year of change. It’s all up to YOU!

  • Choose the life you want to live; no one else can give you what you want
  • The only person you can change is YOU
  • You are the master of your own destiny; the status-quo is no longer an option
  • Refuse to let fear of failure stop you or setbacks derail your resolve

I assure you that if you’re willing to commit to making even small, incremental changes towards the life you want and stick with them, you’ll be amazed at how much better and more in control of your life you will feel. You have the power to make 2105 your best year ever!

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