Long Distance Relationship Counseling
Long distance relationship counseling is becoming more and more common with the advent of online therapy. Therapists report that many of their clients are requesting this service and now that online therapy is available due to HIPAA compliant video platforms, it is now possible to provide it.
Who is requesting it?
There are a number of reasons why couples are requesting long distance relationship counseling. Sometimes the couple met and fell in love online and have actually never lived in the same area. With the increased use of dating apps and even multi-user video games, relationships can begin and develop over great distances. In other instances, the couple fell in love while being in the same area, but then due to circumstances like job placement or military deployment, they are now living apart and trying to figure out how to reunite. We’ve also seen instances where the couple is estranged – perhaps the husband has moved out of the home and living in a hotel or simply does a lot of travel for work and needs the convenience of online therapy to participate in regular couples counseling.
What are the typical issues?
Even couples who live in the same area or even in the same home, report that it’s hard to communicate with one another sometimes. Communication is a skill that not every one has and when it is charged with emotion, many couples begin to fight and feel disconnected due to the many misunderstandings. When we look at couples who are in long distance relationships, these issues are magnified. Due to the lack of contact (we can’t be texting, phoning or skyping all day long) intimacy and connectedness is sacrificed. And then when they do connect, there is just a limited amount of time to catch each other up on the day to day events, much less larger issues. And the manner in which we connect (typically via technology) can feel artificial and forced. It’s no wonder that they report that most of the day they spend wanting to talk with their partner and then when they do – it’s unfulfilling. There really isn’t anything that can take the place of getting to know someone in the quiet moments of life – breathing the same air, watching the same shows, experiencing the same weather!
Many couples report that the green monster of jealousy rears it’s ugly head when they are apart. They begin to wonder what the other person is doing, and who they are spending time with. There can be a lack of trust that is increased when they are apart and this always puts a strain on any relationship.
We’ve seen very strong and trusting relationships suffer from jealousy issues when the couple spends too much time apart. It’s normal that these issues come up – we are imaginative people and sometimes when our partner is not present to reassure us, our imagination begins to take us to dark places.
Another frequent issues that couples report when having a long distance relationship is the development of independence from one another. When our partner is not there on a daily basis – we begin to ‘fend for ourselves’ and take care of day to day needs as if we were single. Independence is a good thing, but over time, our partners begin to feel as if they are needed…or even wanted. And when reunion happens and a couple begins to live together again – it’s very difficult to renegotiate chores and responsibilities.
Bottom line, it’s hard to be in a long distance relationship. We’ve only touched the surface of some of the many complications. Each relationship is different and faces it’s own challenges. But from experience we know that being in a partnership has it’s strains and hardships – and these are only magnified when distance is added.
Through couples counseling, these challenges can be addressed and simple solutions applied to improve connection, trust and inter-dependence. In the end, we believe that couples can even thrive when living apart – but maybe not indefinitely.
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