When a Plane Ride is Necessary to See Your Honey – Long-Distance Relationships

Long distance relationships (LDR) are not for the weak at heart, not only that, they can also be expensive.  Even if two people only live 4 hours a part, it gets expensive running back and forth, even if you take turns.  Long distance relationships have a whole new dimension to them then a traditional relationship and one thing they can not survive with out is trust and communication, if either is lacking the relationship will never make it. 

There are a couple reasons people can find themselves in a long distance relationship:

  • Work takes on of the partners away.  With the war, many couples have been separated for long periods of time to where they have had to rely on their foundation they have built in their relationship to pull them through their absence.  If the foundation is shaky, the relationship can be at risk.  That is why it is so important to have a strong level of trust in your partner and excellent communication skills.  You never know what may separate you.
  • Online dating sites have created many long distance relationships.

Pre-established relationships that are disconnected through work or other reasons that finds them in a long distance relationship may be able to benefit from some of these tips.  However, this article is more directed towards the population that are in new relationships that are long distance out of choice by either chance encounters or meeting on an online dating site.  

Long distance relationships by choice are becoming a common relationship.  It is estimated that 4.4 million college age people and 3.5 million dating couples are in long distant relationships.  That is not counting married couples that are separated do to work or war.  The online dating sites continue to add to these numbers daily as people are easily connected to people who live cities, to states, to countries apart from one another.  Break up rates in long distant couples is not that much greater then amongst couples that live in close proximity with one another or even together.  Although LDRs have to work at their relationship in a different manner then traditional relationships, over all they are no less satisfied with the relationship other then the distance. 

Something you need to consider if you are thinking about entering a long distance relationship is if you are capable of handling the extra commitment and work it requires.  If you are recently in a LDR and have already have had thoughts of straying or obsessive thoughts that your partner is cheating you are not cut out for the long distance lifestyle.  Here are some tips that will help in your dating ventures as well as maintenance of a long distance relationship.

Have an end in sight. 

When people are separated by work or war, they have the advantage of knowing approximately how long the separation will be.  This gives them something tangible to look forward to and calms fears of never being together.  Therefore, give yourself the same advantage.  Before getting to deep into the relationship, make a time line of how the relationship would ideally work out.  Is the other person finishing their degree and does not choose to leave their current university?  Take into accounts what things are happening in each other’s lives and make a reasonable time line of when the separation is going to end and you will be united. 

Think about your willingness to relocate.  If you have no intentions on relocating, make sure to make that clear early on in the relationship.  You partner may feel the same way and you are then at a stalemate and need to make a decision to continue or call it quits. 

Make time to communicate

In long distance relationship, communication levels need to be increased drastically compared to traditional relationships.  You are wise to make sure you have the same cell phone carriers or a really good long distance phone plan.  Schedule your communication so each partner knows when the next time will be when he or she will hear from you.  This takes some of the worry out of the equation.  The more you talk the less the distance will appear.  Mark dates and times a month in advance with each other.  It gives you both parties a tangible thing to look forward to.  If for some reason you are not going to be able to call on a scheduled time, let the partner know in advance.  Do not just blow it off as if it does not matter.  Always think, would you want the same done to you?

Physical visits

Just like the phone communication, schedule physical visits in advance, the more the better, but no less then once every six months.  Depending on the amount of distance between the couple will play a factor in the frequency of visits.  It can get very expensive traveling all the time.  However, in addition to scheduling physical visits, schedule mini vacations like a traditional relationship would have.  This continues to help the relationship grow and stay fresh. 

Trust

Trust can be an issue in any relationship, however if you already have trust issues, long distance is not for you.  It takes a blind trust in a sense to be able to handle LDRs.  You do not have the luxury of seeing this person daily nor can you talk to them every night the entire night through.  You have to be willing to give a level of trust that is even deeper then that in a traditional relationship.  Statistics show that people e who are in LDR do not cheat any more then a traditional relationship, however, they do have a tendency to worry about it more which can bring problems of their own in the relationship.  A person can actually begin to believe their partner is cheating purely from worry alone and by no indication from the other partner that there is anything wrong. 

Intimacy

In a long distance relationship, intimacy takes on a completely new meaning.  You have to learn to focus on what you have at your disposal rather then what you don’t have.  LDRs need to communicate more and in a variety of ways to stimulate as many senses as possible.  Hand written letters, emails, phone call, video chats, tape-recorded messages, pictures, and tokens of love are all great ways to improve a distant intimacy.  People in LDR need to communicate more there day to day activities, plans, how their day went, the small details of their life as well as the bigger ones to help the couples feel a part of their everyday living and an important part of each other’s life. 

Isolation

It is easy for people in LDR to begin to isolate themselves from others and only focus strictly on work to avoid uncomfortable situations while out in public.  They appear to be physically single; however, they are not single emotionally.  Although LDR are becoming more acceptable as a alternative dating arrangement, it is not yet seen by all as a real relationship which leads the person in a LDR having to re-explain their position repeatedly.  Rather then always having to feel the need to defend their LDR and the reality of their love they simply avoid any situations that may bring up question.  However, this is very unhealthy.  People in long distance relationships still need to have a support circle with whom they can feel safe to discuss their relationship with as well as socialize with other people. 

Quality of Relationship

Most people in LDR measure the success of their relationship based off their last physical encounter rather then the relationship as a whole.  If the last visit went poorly, they may sit back with worries until the next visit.  Phone conversations in the mid term avoid discussing how or why the last visit did not go well as others so the moment is not ruined.  This is another aspect where long distance relationships can fail.  Although they may have increase communication, they need to discuss the good and the bad and work through them regardless if they are sitting next to each other.  They cannot allow things to fester up until the next visit and expect it to go well, or try to hide the negative feelings they have been dealing with since the last visit.  Although the communication needs to be at an increased level in LDR, it needs to be of increased quality as well.  

Sex

Over all, couples with mutual commitment to a LDR report having a satisfying sex relationship.  When they do get to see each other physically, the sex is always fresh, new and exciting, much like honeymooning.  The downside of this can be that the expectation level of their sex life remaining at status quo after uniting is unrealistic and seldom happens which can lead to problems and eventual break in the relationship.  Couples substitute the physical connection part of sex while away through phone sex, erotic emails, and pictures.  If you are not comfortable with “phone sex” and/or self-pleasure, you may want to reconsider a long distance relationship

Long distance relationship can work, they just take a different level of commitment, trust, and the couple must have excellent communication skills to make one work. 

Meat Pies, Sex and Relationships

“Men don’t know how to be men. Many men fear that they are unsafe.”
~Aaron Bradfield

“To be a spiritually healthy person you have to be an emotionally healthy person.”
~Rob Furlong

What happens when you get 45 men in a room with a pastor and a counsellor to discuss sex and relationships over a meat pie and a can of coke?

Answer: a lot of education, connecting fellowship, and encouragement.

What follows are some of my thoughts from the notes taken from a Sex and Relationships “Real Men Pie Night.”

PORNOGRAPHY

Sex is sacred and pornography devalues what is sacrosanct.

The commonest problem men are dealing with is pornography, and, to a lesser extent, burnout – both physical and spiritual. Because pornography is so accessible these days – one mouse click away – more and more men (and more women for that matter) are becoming entrapped by pornography.

Among the many dangers involved in pornography is the pressure it places on men’s partners; women who feel under pressure to look like and perform like the porn stars.

It’s amazing how many Christian men struggle with pornography, but almost every one of them believes they are alone. It is the oldest lie of the devil to isolate us in such ways.

Interestingly, pornography is not so much about sex, as it’s much more to do with our own story – what we, as persons, have not recovered from. Dealing with our pasts – being honest about them with trusted others – helps to heal us.

Dealing with the problem of pornography probably best begins with therapy, and possibly group therapy. The best thing we can do, in our struggle with pornography, is to be open and honest with a trusted friend, and ask that friend to pray with us.

Openness and honesty are the keys.

The only real exception to complete openness and honesty is timing and wisdom with our wives in declaring our problems. Our wives are not to be burdened with being our accountability partners. A bit like Step 9 of AA’s 12-Step Program, where, amends is to be made, it defeats the purpose if our amends injures the person we want God to heal. We must pray for wisdom and discernment about the details. But we should tell them, somehow, we have a problem that we’re dealing with.

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S IDENTITIES

Just as the quote at top says, men have learned to lose confidence in their male identity. We may struggle with viewing ourselves as on the one hand, dangerous, but, on the other hand, soft. Our lack of male identity is often caused at a societal level, but it was learned and is reinforced all the more from our families of origin.

Men’s overriding psychology about their masculinity is about, “do I have what it takes?” Women’s overriding psychology about their femininity is about, “do you (my man) delight in me.”

If the man’s identity is to treasure his woman, that he makes her the object of his affection, he bridges the gap between him and her.

THE SEX RELATIONSHIP

It’s critically important for men to understand that their women need to be treated with the utmost respect. If a woman isn’t respected she may be characteristically reviled by the thought of sex. Men tend to not understand this and wonder why they have unfulfilling sexual relationships. The sexual relationship between a married couple is a good representation of the overall relationship. If the sex is good it probably means that the woman feels safe, cherished, and respected in the marriage.

A man cannot grow in intimacy with his wife unless he is prepared to devote his whole sexual life to her alone. He must be not just physically faithful, but mentally and spiritually faithful as well. Intimacy ignites passion as a slow but reliable flame.

Where there is a disparity between the libidos of a husband and his wife, where characteristically the husband’s sexual drive is higher, he may be able to engage sexually with her present in ways that she doesn’t need to be actively involved.

But wherever a wife is involved sexually the husband needs to pay caring attention to what leads up to the sexual event. Sex, at least for the woman, begins in the brain. Women are not interested in sex when the relationship is poor. It is up to men, and the onus is on us, to build intimacy with our wives.

Furthermore, it may be a stretch for a man to understand what it might be like to have a body that is sexually penetrated. A man finds it difficult to imagine how vulnerable a woman must be to allow a man to enter into her body. The sex act needs to be creative, not rushed, and not mechanical.

As men we need to treat our women as they should be treated: with the utmost respect.

Lastly, it is of real value for a woman to understand that a man feels rejected deeper down when he isn’t getting sex. But the first onus is on the man to ensure his wife is happy; that she is being loved and respected unconditionally.

© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Acknowledgement: a special vote of thanks and gratitude for Pastors Rob Furlong and Aaron Bradfield, who were a beautifully complementary team as part of an expert panel providing the above wisdom, and to Pastor Anthony Palmieri for his “Pie Night” vision.

Sex For Life

One great aspect of men growing older is that they become slightly less obsessed with their own sexual arousal and need for sexual release. Now that his own need for orgasm is less pressing, my partner is able to focus on my arousal and can bring me to orgasm through using a combination of anal and clitoral stimulation.

As a young woman I was never conscious of my own physical arousal and my body appeared to be almost innert to any stimulation from my partner. Sometime around my mid-thirties, I found that my body went through a remarkable change – it was as if my body blossomed sexually.

Even intercourse became more sensual due to increased natural lubrication (still no arousal though). From time to time, my mind gets turned on now and I am conscious of the pelvic area behind the external clitoris being swollen and physically aroused (gross but true). For the first time, I was able to enjoy my partner arousing me via manual stimulation of the clitoris.

These physical orgasms are different to those I get from masturbation when I use sexual fantasies. They are often intensely pleasurable but the increase in heart rate and breathing as well as the sense of releasing sexual emotions with the subsequent relaxation are all missing.

“Orgasms vary, both between women and for the same woman at different times. We experience different qualities of orgasm depending upon the degree and kind of stimulation we receive and also on what is going on in our minds.” (p76 Woman’s Experience of Sex 1983)

Experts sometimes try to reassure women by suggesting that orgasm is unimportant. Unfortunately, once a woman is familiar with orgasm from masturbation, she tends to assume that the whole point of sex is the sexual pleasure of orgasm (just as a man does). It is only women who are unfamiliar with orgasm that think it is unimportant.

Female orgasm is important not only because women today want to justify their participation in a sexual relationship but also because men want their partner to be turned-on by sex. Men will only enjoy the best sex once women are given the information they need to enjoy their own sexual pleasure. Lack of orgasm represents a dilemma for many modern couples.

Men’s need for sexual reassurance

I told Bruce, the sexual psychologist I went to see, that in over twenty years of investing in my sexual relationship, the only orgasms I have experienced are from anal stimulation. Bruce, quite evidently thinking that I was being overly particular, asked unsympathetically: “So what’s your problem?”

“Anal intercourse is no longer considered to be abnormal and is enjoyed by many homosexual and heterosexual couples. As long as the decision is mutual and without coercion or guilt, most professionals believe that anal intercourse is simply another way for a couple to find pleasure with each other.” (p12 Dictionary of Sexual Terms 1992)

Perhaps other less adventurous couples, who have made do with intercourse over decades, are more adept at using sexual fantasies. Perhaps other men accept a ‘lie back and think of England’ partner and use affairs to spice up their sexual fantasies. My partner wanted a lover who was positively engaged in sex and I have always considered faking to be humiliating. Some women do explore sexual pleasure, like myself, in order to keep a marriage (and family) together simply because men hope a lover will enhance their sexual arousal so that they can enjoy sex fully.

A man in his sixties, suffering from prostate cancer, was worried that he might not be able to continue to have sex. He was so depressed about losing his ability to become sexually aroused that he felt, without sex, life would not be worth living. Male sexuality, including sexual arousal and orgasm, represents not only a man’s masculinity but also his emotional foothold on the world. A long term sexual relationship provides a man with a strong sense of emotional well-being and fuels his ability to succeed in the otherwise emotion-less world of men.