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LDR 101: Communication in Long Distance Relationships

Photo Credit: David Cosand

Photo Credit: David Cosand

Welcome to part two of this six-part feature on long distance relationships (LDR). If you missed part one, check it out here.

Do you know what’s vital to any relationship? Communication, duh. We’ve all heard this at one point or another, but communication is only second to trust as the most important aspect of LDR’s. But you can’t have trust without communication so this is truly the backbone.

There are three keys to communication

  1. Conveying thoughts/feelings effectively
  2. Listening effectively
  3. Understanding
  4. Openness

Conveying Thoughts/Feelings Effectively

There is a divide between feelings and language, but we use language so much that we forget about this divide. Outside of its more functional aspects like describing things, language allows us to translate our feelings into words. If the words are available that is.

But there’s the rub! Feelings are abstract and words are concrete, so translating them isn’t always so easy. Sometimes you know what you feel, but you’re not quite sure how to express it. The same thing happens with any translation. My fiancé speaks Swedish and there have been more than a couple times when she encountered words in her native tongue that have no English equivalent.

Knowing how to translate your feelings into words effectively helps IMMENSELY in relationships. I personally feel that many people truly don’t understand themselves well enough and it shows in the way they communicate. I can’t blame them though; most people think in their native tongue so they’re constantly translating feelings in their own minds. Language becomes the default and feelings become things that need to be analyzed and deciphered.

Seriously, when you think, it’s probably in a language, right?

This is an important hurdle to overcome in a long distance relationship because, as I stated previously, all you have is communication. That will be your bond. If you’re not sure how to express something without putting emotions like fear or anger into it, say that! You should never expect that a person “should just know.” You are the only one who knows how you feel for a fact. Anything everyone else knows is based on some form of communication (spoken, written, body language, etc.).

Learning how to effectively communicate comes easier to some than others. But if you’re LDR is something you want to take seriously, practice it alone as much as you do with your partner. I’ll be writing an article in the future on how I became better at communication, so stay tuned!

Listening Effectively

Communication is a dance. There’s an ebb and flow to it called communicating and listening.

Because, you know, it wouldn’t be communication if there was no one to hear what you’re saying.

I’m personally not a good listener. Not naturally, anyway…

Damn you, ADD!

…but I became better through age. The foundations of listening are as simple as this: What you’re saying is as important as what I’m thinking. Not more. Not less. It’s of equal importance, even if you don’t agree.

Our minds can easily become little chatterboxes, so it’s easy to get swept up and think about what you want to say next without listening to your partner. Or maybe you’re just distracted. When it comes to listening, your LDR is dependent on you and your significant other to keep an open ear.

This leads me to me next point…

Understanding

Knowing your LDR partner’s communication style is one thing, but understanding it is another. You should understand their communication style as much as your own so you can effectively put things in words that they understand without leading to a negative place.

Look for tendencies and repetitious behavior. What causes breaks in communication? What makes you or your partner shut down? When do the two of you communicate the best? When do you communicate the worst? What causes those instances? You don’t have to over-analyze any of this, but it’s something to keep in mind when things go awry.

Here’s something I like to do to help my fiancé understand me better. Wait for it…

I explain myself.

Is your mind blown? No? Well, I do it when there’s no/less emotion involved. I’m open about the way I think and what’s on my mind. If I get upset (which is almost never at this point in my life), I wait until I’m not upset to elaborate why I reacted a particular way. That doesn’t mean a situation doesn’t get addressed immediately; it just means that I go into more detail once I know how to translate what I feel into words. Hell, sometimes I even just verbalize things even when I don’t know because that helps to bring me to a better conclusion (you need a good listener to make that one work).

Openness

I’ll keep this short and sweet: being closed off eventually hinder communication. Be as open with your partner as you would with yourself. If you start with a foundation of openness, the voluntary kind rather than it being forced, communication is much easier as your relationship grows.

That’s it for now, folks! Let me know what you think! I’ll cover trust next time and the best ways to build that with LDRs. And no, you don’t need to surrender your Facebook password to attain it.

Happy (long distance) dating!

Part 1:  Welcome to Long Distance Relationships

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1 Comment

  • LDR 101: Trust in Long Distance Relationships | Andre C Griffiths March 17, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    […] the previous installment of LDR 101, we covered communication in long distance relationships. This time around we’re going to focus on […]

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