Earlier this week we looked at the five love languages. If you didn’t catch that post, follow this link to figure out what love languages you and your partner prefer to speak, because today we’re talking about how to say I love you across the miles in ways that really mean something to your long distance love.*
There’s no doubt about it – being in a long distance relationship makes it much more complicated to express and receive love. Distance is particularly tough if physical touch is one of your preferred love languages, but quality time and acts of service don’t lend themselves easily to loving at a distance, either. Even gifts lose something significant if they are always ordered online and delivered via the mailbox.
So does this framework of love languages have anything to offer us if we’re in a long distance relationship?
Yes, and here’s why.
Understanding your partner’s primary love language(s) won’t erase the miles between you but it will help you understand some of what frustrates them most about distance. It will also help you figure out how to connect with your partner more meaningfully, even across the miles.
It is harder to speak many of these love languages when you’re not together, but it’s not impossible. You just have to get a bit more thoughtful and creative.
If physical touch is very important to your partner, for example, you can’t be there every day to hug or kiss them. When you think of it, however, you can tell them that you’d love to give them a hug, kiss, or massage right now. You can use the hug and kiss emoticons in messaging programs. You can print out and send special photos of the two of you together to remind your partner of warm, happy moments. You can scent a letter or gift (maybe an piece of your clothing) with your perfume or cologne. You can give them special stuffed animals to cuddle. None of these substitutes are as good as
the real thing, but they’re something.
If words of affirmation are important to your partner (and, let’s face it, genuine and thoughtful words of affirmation, encouragement, and love are pretty much important to everyone at some level) don’t forget to tell your partner that you love them.
When we’re in a long distance relationship we can sometimes stop saying thing like “I miss you” or “I thought of you today when ___” or “when ____ happened I really wished you could have been here.” Don’t stop saying things like this because you feel as if you’ve said them 1000 times before. Unless you’ve formed the annoying and needy habit of saying things like this a dozen times a conversation, your partner will love hearing them.
If acts of service are important to your partner you may not be around to clean the bathroom or surprise them by washing their car, but you can still do things to help them. For example, if their finances are tight, you could pay for a ticket for them to visit you. If they’re squeezed for time or low on energy, you could volunteer to travel to see them even if it’s not your turn to hop on a plane.
You can surprise them with unexpected and thoughtful gifts. Any time spent selecting and sending gifts, notes, and other tokens of love, appreciation, and encouragement is an act of service.
In addition, don’t forget that spending time talking to your partner can be an act of service in and of itself. If you are prioritizing communication with your partner – spending time listening to their joys and frustrations, and (when invited) trying to help them brainstorm ways to manage their problems and worries – you are serving them.
This sort of logic applies to quality time, too. When you’re far apart, the quality time you want in the moment might be more of the “snuggling on the couch variety” than the “Skype date” variety. However, any time spent listening and sharing with each other is quality time even if you have to do it via phone or Skype. What’s more, it’s the sort of quality time that will yield big dividends in the future.
Learning to talk to your partner at length and in depth, ask good questions, and listen to them well all helps build a solid foundation for a great relationship. Use your long distance time to really get to know each other inside out – it will pay off in the future when your relationship is long term, but no longer long distance.
Want some ideas where to start with this sort of quality time? Check out this post on fun and creative activities for couples in long distance relationships.
Sure, long distance relationships are tough. But learning to speak your partner’s love language(s) better, even across the miles, will make it less tough. It will help your partner feel more loved and secure. It will also help you both avoid some misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or conflict.
Help us all out by adding to these ideas!
Leave a comment letting us know how you show love to your partner across the miles (or vice versa).