If you've ever been in a long-distance relationship, you know all too well what it's like to pine for your partner's touch. Of course, there's no substitute for snuggling up next to them or spending hours chatting face-to-face.
Though it may be months before you see them, a recent US study has shown that a simple strategy can help strengthen your relationship in the meantime. What's more, you can put it to use whenever and wherever you like.
In the study, researchers found over 500 men and women in long-distance relationships. First the participants answered questions that revealed how satisfied they were in their relationship. Next they were split into groups, one of which was asked to ‘savour’ a positive experience they’d had in their relationship. They went over the moment in detail, using their senses, and recalling how they felt and what they thought. Then they answered questions about their emotions, both good and bad.
In the final part of the study, the participants were asked to imagine a scenario where their partner didn’t call them when they said they would. The researchers wanted to know if savouring the good times could help during stressful moments.
Taking time to mentally conjure up positive experiences you’ve had with your partner really could help your long-distance relationship, the study found. People in the relationship-savouring group had more positive emotions and fewer negative ones after replaying good times with their sweetheart.
It’s these positive emotions that can help people in long-distance relationships weather the kinds of stressors that come up when they’re living apart – things like one partner not phoning when they say they will.
Not surprisingly, relationship savouring is especially helpful for people who are in happy relationships to begin with, the study found.
Savour every detail
So if distance is keeping you and your partner apart, savouring the good times you’ve had could help bring you closer together. Think about moments big or small where you really felt 'cherished, protected, or accepted' by your partner – as per the instructions given to the study’s participants.
Then replay those moments in your mind. Go over all the details, including things like the weather and what you and your partner were wearing. Try to use your senses and remember your thoughts and feelings. This simple strategy could give your relationship a boost until the next time you and your sweetheart are together.
Source: Relational savoring in long-distance romantic relationships (2015). Jessica L. Borelli, Hannah F. Rasmussen, Margaret L. Burkhart, David A. Sbarra. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 32(8):1083-1108.
Illustration: Shutterstock / michaeljung / rangizzz – Love Matters