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Sex with Dr. Jess


March 13, 2018

Jess’ Advice for Long-Distance Relationships

Jess tackled more questions this morning on Global TV’s The Morning Show. This time, she addressed long-distance relationships. She shared her insights about how to strengthen relationship longevity and how to deal with the problems that may arise in the long-distance realm. Check out her expanded notes and video below.

1. My boyfriend and I have been living together for the last year of university and now I’m going to grad school on the east coast. We might have to do the long-distance thing and I’m worried that it won’t work out. Is our relationship doomed if I move across the country?

Your relationship isn’t determined by distance. There is no statistically significant difference in relationship longevity between geographically close and long distance relationships. Relationship satisfaction rates are also similar and intimacy, trust, and commitment outcomes are the same regardless of whether you live in the same city or many miles away. People in long-distance relationships worry more about their partner cheating, but affairs are no more common.

If you’re going to transition to a long-distance relationship, you’ll need to rewrite the script of your relationship and find new ways to connect. Because you’re accustomed to a close-in-proximity relationship, I suggest that you find ways to replicate some of the elements of your current format:

1. Send voice notes via text throughout the day so you hear each other’s voices.

2. Use Facetime/Skype so you benefit from the chemical response associated with eye contact (boost in bonding and oxytocin release — we’re not sure if it works through the screen, but it’s worth a shot).

3. Keep reminders of each other nearby (e.g. photos, clothing) so you think of each other daily.

4. Hide notes in one another’s homes when you visit, so that you’re surprised by them sporadically when you’re separated.

5. Use apps like ITM to flirt and be playful. It can be useful to separate daily (mundane) conversations from more intimate communication and an app can help to create this differentiation.

6. Prioritize sex and if you’re uncomfortable with phone/Skype sex, start by reading hot stories to one another over the phone in the dark.

2. My wife travels for work several times per month, so we’re part-time long-distance, and when she’s away our relationship is great. We’re madly in love and can’t wait for her to get home. But when she comes home, we seem to fight. We always work it out, but how can we fight less when she gets home? 

Couples in long-distance often fight because of issue-avoidance; when you spend so little time together, you may see it as precious and avoid addressing issues/problems because you want to preserve your time together. And while it is important to both pick your battles and choose an appropriate time to discuss more relationship issues, you do not want to postpone important conversations indefinitely.

I suggest that long-distance couples have relationship check-ins every single month (all couples should do this!). If possible, do it in person and open the conversation by sharing one thing that’s going well and one thing you’d like to work on. Be sure to frame the latter as a request — not a complaint.