Are you dealing with intimacy issues in your long distance relationship?
Intimacy issues—long distance or not—can happen in any relationship. They do, however, hit differently when you’re not able to see your partner whenever you want.
In this post, we’ll be talking about:
- the lack of physical intimacy in an LDR, and
- how distance can affect our emotional intimacy.
I’ll also offer some suggestions on how to navigate these issues and hopefully rekindle the passion in your long distance relationship.
The Cause Of Physical Intimacy Issues In An LDR
You’re in a long distance relationship, so—naturally—you’re going to have issues when it comes to physical intimacy.
Unfortunately, that comes with the territory.
One of the reasons long distance relationships are so hard is because physical touch is a necessary component of any relationship.
From the moment we’re born, we react to and seek out physical human contact.
The affection we receive from loved ones covers all senses—sight, touch, sound, smell, and even taste.
It’s referred to as sensory integration.
Unfortunately, an LDR takes away several of those senses, and we’re presented with an altered, stripped down version of a human relationship.
We Need Physical Contact For An Intimate Relationship
A long distance relationship can still have intimate moments, but physical contact is a basic human element of intimacy.
This means that even though you may both love each other very much, you’ll both struggle if you try to continue your relationship without any physical touch.
In fact, a study on long distance relationships identified the lack of physical intimacy as the biggest challenge in LDRs—outranking others such as fear of breaking up or loneliness.
A long distance relationship shouldn’t go on for too long. You should both be actively working on trying to get together as soon as is reasonably possible.
(Full disclosure: my long distance relationship lasted 6.5 years. I really should’ve followed my own advice!)
What helped us was that we balanced our time apart with as much time together in-person. We would save as much as we could to try and visit each other at least twice a year.
There was one stretch where that wasn’t possible, and that was the hardest 13 months of our lives!
The Effects On Emotional Intimacy In An LDR
You can immediately feel the lack of physical intimacy in a long distance relationship.
Your emotional connection, however, can wane over time.
When my SO and I first started our long distance relationship, the feelings were still fresh and the passion was strong.
After six months? Nine months? A year?
I’ll admit—I felt like I was going through the motions, sticking to my schedule, and letting my emotional intimacy for my partner fade.
Talking To Your Phone Screen Is Fatiguing
When you haven’t talked face-to-face with your partner in months, it can feel like they’re turning into an online persona instead of a real person.
Yes, they’re still your partner and you love them very much. You can see them and hear them on the other side of your video calls.
However, because of the distance and the lack of sensory integration, you’re only interacting with them with a limited number of senses.
Long story short, speaking to your partner through a tiny screen is a poor substitute for in-person interaction. (Which sucks…because it’s all we’ve got!)
Doing this for a long time can have an impact on your relationship, and subsequently on you or your partner’s emotional intimacy.
Can you maintain that spark for someone that you can’t physically interact with?
That ultimately depends on you. Some people may find it much harder than others.
But it is possible! There are ongoing relationships where couples have never met.
Emotional intimacy can falter in relationships over time. However, in the case of a long distance relationship, I think it wanes even faster without physical presence.
How Do I Resolve Intimacy Issues In My Long Distance Relationship?
I think there are similar solutions to physical or emotional intimacy issues. Here’s how I would do it.
1. Visit Each Other Regularly
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway—see each other in person as often as you can!
Visiting each other helps resolve physical intimacy issues, obviously.
But in-person visits can also help to break the monotony of scheduled calls, screen fatigue, and the feeling of missing the other person.
It also opens up a lot more dating and bonding options for the two of you when you’re both together.
Every time I reunited with my partner, the haze of the past few months where our emotional intimacy waned would wash away.
Dating in person, doing activities together, and of course revisiting our physical intimacy did wonders for reminding us why we chose to be together and get through this long distance relationship.
It might be difficult, but in-person visits are a must! Set a budget and do them as often as you can.
Since our distance was very long (Australia to USA), and flights would take up a whole day, we set our interval at six months.
If both of you live closer to each other, you should definitely try to see each other more often.
2. Get Creative With Your Sexual Interactions
You and your partner probably have your own approach to engaging with each other sexually over distance.
Texts, photos, and the occasional video are fine, especially if you’re more conservative with sharing yourself online.
However, it can also be frustrating to be restricted to your mobile device.
Not only are you confined to a tiny screen, you’re also limited to what you can do with each other.
So, you may need to get a little creative.
Here are some suggestions:
Use More Live Video
Sending a photo or video, while welcome, isn’t quite as exciting and can feel one-sided.
I think that interacting with each other in real-time as you engage sexually can heighten your levels of intimacy.
You can talk to each other, respond to each other, and share in your mutual pleasure.
Try A Bigger Screen Or A Wider Camera Lens
Interacting with your partner on a tiny screen while you’re trying to engage sexually can kill the mood.
Consider using a laptop or a desktop for a more immersive experience.
Also, if you’re comfortable doing so, you can capture more of your body by using a wider camera lens or a webcam, instead of just focusing on your face.
Try More Advanced Toys
If you’re okay with using toys, there are some products out there that are definitely worth a look.
Search specifically for “app controlled vibrators” or sex toys, and you’ll have a good idea of what’s available.
3. Keep Dating Your Partner
Whether you’re dating in-person or over long distance, or if you’ve been together a few weeks or many years—you gotta keep dating your partner!
A routine is important in a long distance relationship because it helps to maintain a connection with your partner.
However, refusing to deviate from what you do in that routine can be disastrous.
While it can be nice to tune out with a TV series, or just enjoy each other’s company, shaking things up and coming up with interesting date ideas can help keep things fresh.
The variety can help keep both of you emotionally engaged, and maintain the emotional intimacy you have for each other.
You’ll need to be a bit creative with activity planning, but it can certainly be done. Try playing online games with each other, or having a go at some board games over the internet.
If games aren’t your bag, then there are also lots of virtual activities you can do while you’re apart.
4. Be Open And Honest
Again, getting stuck in your routine can trap you in a regular cycle of typical topics.
And since you’re physically apart from them, you’re also only getting a fraction of their whole self.
It can feel tempting to self censor yourself and only delve into safe topics, or avoid relationship issues that might be emotionally taxing.
However, tackling these issues are part of coming together as a couple. Letting these issues and feelings stay without addressing them, in our opinion, will only harm your relationship over time.
It will affect your emotional intimacy as you both avoid expressing and exposing those emotions to each other.
Talking about your true feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams as a team will make you and your relationship stronger.
In our case, my partner and I were both initially concerned about not hurting the other person’s feelings, and didn’t know how to deal with our situation.
The result? A long distance relationship that, honestly, could’ve been resolved much faster.
In the end, we were honest with our needs and our desires, and we were able to work out how to close the distance and figure out when and where we’d be together.
5. Have The End In Mind
Ultimately, there’s only one way to resolve intimacy issues in a long distance relationship—close the distance!
It’ll be easier for some than others. It will also not be an easy journey to take.
However, I can tell you first hand that the feeling of taking that one-way flight, knowing that I don’t ever have to leave her again, is amazing.
All the stress of organizing my long distance engagement and wedding, wrapping up my old life, and starting my new one…all of it was worth it.
As for the intimacy issues? I don’t think that being together makes them go …but being together makes it so much easier to resolve them.
Always keep the end in mind whenever you’re in your long distance relationship, and you’ll have a much easier time when it comes to physical and emotional intimacy with your partner.