By Charlie Fletcher
During the Covid pandemic, we’ve learned all too well what it’s like to be far from loved ones. With movement restrictions keeping people at home and restricting travel, some people have been separated from family, friends, and lovers for over a year now. We all need to know how to maintain healthy long-distance relationships!
In today’s increasingly globalized world, it’s only natural for some of your most important relationships to be distributed across time and space. It’s now easier than ever before to relocate both domestically and abroad, and the Internet keeps us all connected via phone calls, messaging, and other social features.
As a result of new patterns of population distribution, you may find some of your closest friends, family, or even your romantic partner living hundreds or thousands of miles away from you. This can be socially taxing for humans. After all, we’re social creatures who crave close bonds and interaction with loved ones. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can maintain healthy long-distance relationships in mid-life.
Loving Family From Afar
In an ideal world, you’d be surrounded by your loved ones all the time. Unfortunately, many factors can put a damper on this plan. Military service, new job offers, and pursuit of a university education are just some of the reasons you may find yourself physically distant from your family.
When it comes to managing your familial relationships over distance, there are a few measures you can take to ensure you still feel close, despite the distance. Video conferencing apps can allow you face-to-face time with your family, while online invitations can facilitate event planning for in-person meetups.
If you live far from your family, the moments you do see them will be all the more precious. All of a sudden, events like birthdays, holidays, weddings, and graduations are joyous occasions where the whole family can relax together and catch up on missed time. How you coordinate these events is crucial, as everyone has a different schedule. Planning will ensure the best turnout, as your relatives have time to adjust their calendars.
Becoming an Empty Nester
For those with children, it can be especially difficult to cope with becoming an empty nester. You’ve been surrounded by your children constantly for 18+ years, and now they’re ready to grow their own wings and fly away.
Fortunately, you can learn to thrive in an empty nest. First off, it’s important to make the transition slowly, as it’s a big change. You may not hear from your child as often, which is normal, although it may feel strange. They’re off adapting to their own lives, likely trying to adjust to the world of college, with new friends, classes, and activities. After graduating, they may even decide to buy a home after college near their alma mater or new workplace, which could make the distance between you more long-term.
Both of you have to learn to grow into your new roles healthily but allow yourself time to get to that point. You’ll eventually realize being an empty nester also comes with its perks, like more time to pursue your passions.
Managing a Romantic Relationship
The world grows smaller and smaller every day, and you could find yourself in a long-distance romantic relationship in your mid-life. Without children running around the house and with the experience of young adulthood behind you, you may also find more clarity in your romantic life.
This newfound clarity may entail recognizing the signs of a toxic person. In mid-life, many people begin to sort out the meaningful relationships in their life from the toxic ones, and that includes romantic relationships. In fact, that falls under the umbrella of a “mid-life crisis.”
Sometimes, the end result is divorce, while other times it’s finding love where you never expected it. Oftentimes in mid-life, people set their past heartbreaks, losses, and intimacy issues aside to find love again later in life. Dating apps and other online opportunities can facilitate this process.
A strong romantic relationship is built on the principles of equality, reciprocity, and mutuality. Without these three pillars, your relationship will begin to crumble from the inside out. So, whether you’re re-assessing your current romantic relationship or you’ve happened to find love long-distance, knowing how to manage a healthy relationship is essential at this stage of your life.
However, familial and romantic ties aren’t the only ones affected by distance. Some of the strongest bonds in this world are friendships, held together by no obligations, just trust, respect, and mutual understanding.
One of the best ways to maintain healthy friendships over distance is to treat them as you would a romantic relationship. Just because you aren’t romantically involved doesn’t mean a friendship doesn’t require a similar level of commitment and vulnerability. Oftentimes, it’s even more difficult to maintain a friendship over distance because society views platonic friendships as less important than romantic ones. The financial and emotional pain of a long-distance separation between friends is often downplayed.
On the other hand, the pain of separation can show just how much you really mean to each other. Meeting up is going to take more effort than before. You’ll have to find new ways to share experiences and your lives with each other. Whether that’s a standing night for FaceTime or scheduling an annual trip together, there are ways to make your friendship bonds stronger over distance.
It can be challenging to navigate life as an empty nester, especially if many of your meaningful relationships are long-distance. Fortunately, with open communication and a commitment to furthering your connections, you can develop rich relationships, no matter how far your family, partner, or friends live from you.
Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer from the lovely “city of trees”- Boise, Idaho. Her love of writing pairs with her passion for social activism and search for the truth. When not writing, she is a part-time wedding planner and spending time with her nephews.