The Secrets of Intimacy in a Long Distance Relationship

Tough as it can be, geographical distance is an opportunity to build a stronger foundation for love.

In today’s mobile world there is likely to be at least one long distance relationship in your life.

Two years after the end of my first marriage I met the woman who became my wife and love of my life. Shortly after we met, her mother in Florida was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and she had to move in with her to care for and nurture her as she underwent treatments and, sooner than thought, hospice.

We communicated by long phone calls, letter, and old fashioned greeting cards to stay in touch. Given the fact that her mom was dying, she really longed for our conversations and for my listening ear.

I came to realize that those many months of that frequent yet long distance communication helped build up our intimacy at rocket speed and when she did move back to my state of Colorado, we knew each other much better than if we had dated normally in the same town.

I am not saying you need to have a long distance romance, but if you do, use it for an opportunity of honest and ‘naked’ conversations. If you don’t have a long distance romance, maybe you would consider one of you going away somewhere and yet staying in touch via phone, emails, and Skype. I believe that those conversations away from everyday distractions of living together, can enhance and allow you to practice the same kind of committed listening and sharing when you are together in the same place and time.

“How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves.”
— Brené Brown

Let’s face it. Relationships are tough, especially those of marriage or committed partners. We often get out of sync, pulled by duties of job, children, health, wealth, friends, family, and so on. But living alone is not what humans are to experience either. So the challenge becomes ways to be naked emotionally in safe places and to do it before the layers of armor are thick and impenetrable. This even applies in the role of parent or work roles that may not be intimate partners, but they can be important mirrors for our life learning and relationships that can help us evolve in important ways.

In romantic relationships, for sexual intimacy, you eventually have to shed your clothes together and make love. I have often found that phrase curious. We don’t make anything. We experience love, connection, and sexual pleasure. As Paul McCartney wrote, “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”

But lovers are also naked at other times, depending on their need for privacy when they get into bed together, take showers, or change clothes. Everyone has a different need for privacy. Some don’t mind walking from the closet naked to grab a new shirt; yet others want the lights out and wear pajamas to bed. What matters is how emotionally naked you can be with your lover, partner, or spouse. When we take off our clothes from a day at work or a night out to dinner, we feel free from the constraints and constrictions that clothes sometimes cause. And that feeling of comfort while becoming unencumbered by constrictive clothing is the same feeling that can come from being able to speak truthfully and authentically to your partner or another one who listens well, for example, a girlfriend, counselor, coach, and so on.

And let me be clear. This emotional nakedness and authentic communication is not done without clear intentions and safety of circumstances. Just like we don’t show up physically naked at all times, we likewise don’t reveal ourselves completely emotionally at all times. And yet there must be some times to experience that, or the burden and constriction will grow more uncomfortable.

Sometimes, a long distance relationship, prolonged or brief can be an example of intimate communication that can continue face to face, and heart to heart.

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