How to Resolve Conflict in Long Distance Relationships
Long distance relationships constitute for about 25-50% of college students' romantic relationships. It is difficult enough to manage conflict in a relationship, and made even more difficult in a relationship in which the couple is proximally distant from one another. Fortunately there are better communication mediums that can help these types of relationships stay strong. Using online methods like Facebook, Facetime and Skype is essential in maintaining and connection and closeness. Text messaging and voice calling allows for you to stay in touch with your partner throughout the day. There are steps you can take to ensure a healthy communication between you and your distant partner.
Know the other's schedule.
It is important to be mindful of each other's schedules and responsibilities. If you are constantly texting and calling, unaware of what the other is doing during the day then you are just going to cause further conflict. If your partner is in a meeting and his/her phone is going off continuously it will only aggravate the situation and create resentment and annoyance. Know the other's schedule and when he/she is available to talk, and respect that schedule accordingly.
Set aside time for Skype or Facetime.
Setting aside a specific time each day for a video conversation via Skype of Facetime benefits for a couple of reasons. It gives you something to look forward to, and it keeps you from over-messaging throughout the day. Knowing that you have a Skype Date tonight keeps you in a positive outlook and optimistic about the relationship, even just for the one day. Sometimes just one day is all you need to get through. Committing to a date and time for a Skype Date improves quality of dedication and loyalty and feelings of security and stability.
When arguing, avoid hanging up or ignoring the other.
Sometimes when we argue with someone, we want to ignore them or cut them off because we know it pisses them off more. This is bad in any relationship, especially a distant relationship. It is important to make the other feel relevant and heard. Hanging up and not answering the phone perpetuates conflict and builds up pain and resentment, leading to hatred and spiteful actions. Talk out your issues. If you need to take an adult time-out to collect yourself, inform the other of your intentions. By simply telling the other person, "I need to take a moment away from this argument, please let me have the time and space I ask for," you can avoid turning a simple argument into a roller coaster of fighting.
Communication is KEY!
The MOST important thing you can do to help your relationship is communicate. Communication is key. Intimacy in conversation, disclosing how something makes you feel, and communicating about how to better a situation can have a critical effect on the outcome of a conflict. Proper communication techniques do not involve yelling, insulting, or purposely upsetting the other. In order to resolve a conflict you sometimes have to put aside your own pride and stubbornness and be aware of the other person's needs and feelings. Doing this will help you both discover how to avoid future conflicts and resolve already in-place conflicts. Stay calm and talk it out.
AVOID text message fighting!
Text messages cannot convey the proper tones and contexts intended in a conversation. Some texts are read differently than they were mean't to be, and this is dangerous. Misread text messages lead to false assumptions which manifest into anger and hostility and becomes a fight that should never have even happened. If you feel a fight brewing in a text message conversation, ask if you could rehash that conversation later over Skype or a phone call. Facial cues and tones of voice can make all the difference in a discussion.
Lastly, have realistic expectations.
When you and your partner are living separate lives there are always going to be things that come up unexpectedly. Whether it is a school or work commitment, sometimes things go off-schedule and it is important to be respectful of that. Busy days mean less communication, and that is okay. Be aware and have realistic expectations of what happens in life. If something comes up and your partner is too busy to talk or is not answering your phone call or text, do not freak out. Things come up that are not in your control and you just have to be accepting and understanding and know that you will talk again soon. There is no need to stir the pot and potentially brew another conflict because of a busy day. The last thing you want to do is piss off the other person after he/she has had a strenuous and exhausting day!
Hopefully these key tips can help you maintain the conflict and hold onto a strong and solid relationship. The other most important thing to remember in all this is that there is a reason you are still dating, even while living separate lives. It is because there is enough love, commitment, and dedication to keep going. Reassuring yourself of this is valuable and promotes an optimistic attitude. Always be optimistic about the relationship. A negative attitude is helpful to no one!