How to Get to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship

get to know each other in a long-distance relationship - head shaped shelf with books

You’ve met someone who lives far away. You have fond feelings towards each other, so you start a long-distance relationship.

But getting to know someone long-distance can be challenging. How long can your relationship really last without physical intimacy?

To make your relationship work long-distance, you need to know 3 things:

  1. How long the long-distance will last
  2. What you want to achieve during the long-distance period of your relationship
  3. How will you know when it’s time to move in together, turn your relationship into a friendship or break up and move on

In a long-distance relationship, it’s hard to understand how someone feels. You can’t see their body language nor can you touch them. In this article, we’ll see how to ask the right questions and what you can do to make your long-distance relationship.


Getting to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship

girl on a video call on her phone

A long-distance relationship is not a complete romantic relationship. It’s a phase in your relationship.

In fact, it’s an opportunity to ask the right questions and take time to respond to questions. It’s a perfect time for you to learn about each other’s personalities, values, and beliefs.

Often, a long-distance relationship comes as:

  1. A short phase at the beginning of a romantic relationship.
  2. Separation in a current relationship usually because of study or work.

To have a healthy long-distance relationship, first, you need to agree on several aspects of your communication:

  • The preferred means of keeping in touch (phone calls, video calls, and messaging).
  • The frequency that happily fits into your schedule.
  • The topics of your conversation.

To make your long-distance relationship work, you need to define what a long-distance relationship means to each of you. For example, are you exclusive or are you seeing/communicating with others while getting to know each other?

Any preferences you have are ok, as long as you’re honest with each other. It’s better, to be honest, and let the other person decide if they are ok with it then hide it in fear that they will not accept your preference.


Practical Ways to Get to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship

Getting to know someone long-distance is a little different from getting to know them face to face.

It may seem a little alien at the beginning. A new long-distance relationship may feel exciting, but it can also get confusing. You will have some misunderstandings and that’s ok.

Maintaining the connection in a long-distance relationship differs slightly from when you are together.

Effective Communication When Getting to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship

Effective communication is a cornerstone in any relationship. Communication has 2 parts: expressing yourself and hearing your partner. Effective communication is your ability to tell your partner what you like and what what you don’t, but doing so in a way that they can hear exactly what you mean.

Every couple that made their relationship work have great communication and understanding or high level of tolerance. If you want to create a healthy relationship and grow as a couple, you need to know how to communicate with each other. For a step by step guide to effective communication in a long-distance relationship, check out this article.

People who know how to communicate with each other form relationships based on trust and understanding. That serves as a strong foundation for marriage and having children. Couples in a long-distance relationship face a bit of a challenge when it comes to having healthy communication.

In a long-distance relationship, you don’t have the luxury to observe your partner’s body. Body language is responsible for much of our communication.

So, you rely mostly on verbal and written communication. The clearer you express yourself through words, the easier it’s for your partner to understand what you mean.

Getting to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship Without the Physical Love

Love can be an ambiguous term. It may have a different meaning to you and your partner. When a couple is in a relationship, long-distance or otherwise, they tend to talk about love all the time. The problem is that until you have a conversation about what love means to each of you, you may well be talking about different things.

Some people refer to love as a feeling and others refer to love as a need. Why is it important to understand what you and your partner mean when you talk about love?

When you say “I love you” to your partner you may want to express a feeling of closeness or a need for reassurance. You may want to simply express your feeling or you may expect your partner to say it back to give you reassurance. At the same time, your partner may take it as your request to buy something for you. So instead of giving you reassurance by saying “I love you”, they may give you a diamond ring, for example.

While it’s great to receive presents, no one thing can replace a reassurance of connection in a romantic relationship. In a long-difference relationship, the reassurance of connection outweighs any one thing by far. It’s ok to send gifts to each other, just remember that emotional connection is maintained through emotions, not things.

It’s harder to maintain an emotional connection without physical contact. Typically, getting to know another person involves a lot of touching. Physical touch reassures you that all is well. It can also tell you if something is wrong. Without physical contact, it’s hard to navigate the state of your relationship.

You have already met this person in real life, so you know how it feels when you are together. But, how do you stay connected without body language and physical contact?

Here are some practical things you can do to stay connected:

  • Agree the best way for you to communicate (messages, video calls, phone calls, text conversation).
  • Decide together on how often you want to keep in touch (see what works for you).
  • Schedule your conversations.
  • Express yourself as clear as you can.
  • Get comfortable talking about your feelings.

Tip: To remain connected you need 2 things: keep in touch and maintain the emotional connection.


Conversation Topics to Help You Get to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship

a couple in a long-distance relationship talking over the internet

A lot of couples in a long-distance relationship struggle to find new things to talk about. It becomes a problem when you spend a lot of time talking to each other every day. You are trying to reach out and connect to each other in an attempt to feel closer. But no amount of conversations will breach the physical distance between two people who live in different parts of the world.

In a long-distance relationship, there’s a boundary of how often you should speak to your special someone. Once you cross this boundary, your relationship becomes toxic to you and your partner.

What is a healthy frequency of communication in a long-distance relationship?

In a long-distance relationship, it’s important to feel emotionally connected. But this connection is achieved through the quality of communication rather than the quantity. A couple that spends 15 hours on the phone every day is reaching a point where conversations become boring. Each person in such a relationship compromises their personal lives in an attempt to reach the unreachable, physical touch.

When you are away from each other, there’s one simple fact you just have to accept: your need for physical connection will be unfulfilled. You may be feeling sad or frustrated about it, and that’s normal. The important thing is to remember this simple truth, so you are aware of the source of your frustration. Because if you are feeling frustrated for an unknown reason, you will also be confused, and this will bring about more negative feelings.

The best thing people in a long-distance relationship can do is focus on something doable. For example, sharing how you feel is doable, making a plan to visit each other in the future is doable, learning about each other’s likes and dislikes is doable. Touching each other, having sex, physical intimacy – is not doable.

Focusing on something which is not doable only leads to more disappointment. While you are in a long-distance romantic relationship, focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.

Doable things in a long-distance relationship

One important thing you can focus on while in a long-distance relationship is communication. But talking about nothing is a waste of time and can hurt your relationship in the long run.

To maintain a healthy long-distance relationship, agree on 2-3 days a week to talk for a few hours. This will give you both time to do your own things, so you will have something new and exciting to share. Apart from sharing your life events, talk about something meaningful, things that are important to each of you and your relationship.

There are two areas you can explore to help you build a healthy relationship:

  1. Your story 
    Share your story. Where you come from and what you have been through. This helps better understand another person and the reasons for their actions. What do you want in life and from your relationship? What are your personal and relationship goals?
  2. Your feelings, needs, values and preferences. 
    Talk about your feelings, needs, values and preferences. Any successful relationship depends on your ability to express your feelings and recognise the feelings of your partner. Your ability to express how you feel and what you need directly impacts the success of your relationship. Get comfortable sharing your feelings with each other and discussing them without judgement.

Include the above in your daily repertoire of conversations, and it will open the door to an honest and loving relationship.

Take notes of how you feel. Over time, it will give you an invaluable insight into how your feelings change and develop. Take notes of the events so you can correlate these events with your feelings.

Here’s a conversation starters card game. It’s a fun way to talk about questions that you might find tricky or awkward to bring up by yourself. Playing with physical cards while on a phone or a video chat will bring something tangible in your long-distance relationship.


Get to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship During Your Visits

couple together on the hill overlooking the city during a visit while in a long-distance relationship.jpg

During visits, couples ignore all the problems just to enjoy the little time they have together. But I suggest a slightly different approach.

You can remain emotionally connected and make the most out of your time apart. Talking about your feelings helps you feel understood.

It’s a great opportunity to connect everything you discussed while apart and see how it feels when you are together.

First, get clear on 3 things:

  1. When are you going to visit each other
  2. How often are you able to visit each other
  3. Who will come over

When you meet, you are able to communicate as a couple in real-life circumstances. It’s a perfect opportunity to talk about love, the future and marriage. Discussing these face to face makes a huge difference because you get to experience physical feelings while talking about something important.

Talking about things like marriage when you are physically connected allows you to better understand how the other person feels about it. When you communicate during your visits, it’s easier to navigate the conversation and explore the things that are really important.


Physical Intimacy while Getting to Know Someone in a Long-Distance Relationship

intimacy during visits in a long-distance relationship

A romantic relationship involves physical intimacy. With distance, physical intimacy is limited (frequency of visits depends on time and money). A long-distance relationship becomes a problem when you can’t see each other as often as you’d like. It comes down to having the time and money to cross the distance.

Each person has a different need for intimacy. So, longer periods between visits will be harder for the person who needs the physical touch more often.

3 Main questions when getting to know someone long-distance :

  1. How often does each of you need physical intimacy?
  2. Do you need it as often as each other?
  3. Does one of you need it more?

Conclusion

Getting to know each other in a long-distance relationship differs slightly from how you’d do it if you were together. Lack of physical touch makes it difficult to tell how your relationship is going. You can’t read their body language, so you rely on written and verbal communication to share your feelings.

It’s hard to navigate your relationship long-distance. But it doesn’t have to be a struggle. With the right approach described in this article, you can make your long-distance work for you.

If you see it as a temporary period, you can use the time apart to learn about each other. During your visits, you can see if what you know fits with how you feel when you are together. If it does, consider moving in together. If you feel that you are happy together and believe that your relationship can work, give it a go.

In the next article, we will see how you can tell that it’s time for a change and how to make it happen. It will help you decide whether to move in or move on.

If you are just starting a long-distance relationship, here’s an article that will help you out. Otherwise, read on to find out how you can get to know someone you just met who lives far away.

How to Get to Know Someone In a Long-Distance Relationship

  1. Get to know what they like and dislike

    Your first step to getting to know someone in a long-distance relationship is to find out what they like and how they like it. Then you can see if you like the same things.

  2. Get to know what’s important for them

    While you can get by without what you like, there are things that are important to you. Tell your partner what things are important, so they don’t expect you to compromise them. Your partner also has some things that they can be ok with either way. You need to know what’s important to them, so you don’t expect them to compromise them either.

  3. Get to know their beliefs

    Beliefs create our reality. What’s true for you, may not hold true for your special someone. For you to have a healthy relationship, you should know each other beliefs and be ok with them.

  4. Get to know what they want from your future relationship

    For you to have a healthy relationship, both of you should know where you see your relationship in the future. Do you want to live in a similar place, have kids, focus on your careers, or just have fun for a little while. For this, you need to be able to communicate with each other. Here’s an article to help you learn effective communications in a long-distance relationship.

Getting Some Help

I hope that this article answered some of your questions. If you are struggling and could do with more help, send me a message so we can talk about your situation in more detail.

Frequently Asked Questions

What questions do you ask in a long-distance relationship?

All questions can be divided into 2 types: those that are important to you and those that are not. We are naturally more emotional about things that are important to us. In a long-distance relationship, your first priority is to express what’s important to you and learn what’s important to your partner.

How do you keep a long-distance conversation interesting?

If you are in a healthy relationship, your conversations will be interesting all the time. But wait, surely there are times when conversation become dull… If you are feeling bored during a conversation, find something better to do, it’s that simple.

What should you not do in a long-distance relationship?

3 things to avoid in a long-distance relationship:

  1. Don’t lead yourself into falling in love with an ideal. Get to know this person for who they really are.
  2. Don’t set unrealistic expectations. It’s nice to dream, but if your feelings grow stronger, assess what is possible for both of you. This will help you avoid the disappointments and heartache.
  3. Don’t make promises that will leave you feeling pressured to do something. Your feelings will change and so will your preferences. Let your relationship develop in its own time and enjoy your present experience.

How do you make love in a long-distance relationship?

You don’t. That’s the sad reality of a long-distance relationship. You can go all out during your visits, but is if it’s enough? It’s good to talk to your partner to see their preferences. Knowing what both of you need will help you understand each other better.

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alex larryngton - health and relationship coach

Hi! I’m Alex.

Welcome to my blog. I spent my past 13 years learning and practicing holistic therapies. I also like to reflect on life and understand human behaviour. Over the past 19 years I’ve red different books from Dale Carnegie and Louise Hay to Joe Navarro and Marshall Rosenberg.

Feel free to browse my articles on relationships, health and check out the faq pages for common questions. 

If you need help or just want to connect, I’d love to hear from you.

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