‘Sexting’, overcommunication and horrible misunderstandings: how to maintain a long-distance relationship in the Internet age | Wellbeing | S Fashion

EL PAÍS

Marianne and Connell are sitting on the floor facing each other: he decides to go to New York after winning a literature scholarship, but she does not want to give up her plans and her life in the United Kingdom. After years of comings and goings that fell in love with an entire generation, the protagonists of the series Normal People ―adaptation of the book by Sally Rooney―, they maintain a dialogue that is difficult to forget: “I’ll leave,” says Connell. “And I will stay. And we will be fine,” she responds. Indeed, it is possible that, as in her case, there is no possible future if the relationship is long-distance. However, others decide to try it and many times nothing goes wrong: “The key is that the values ​​of the two members of the couple are compatible and that decisions are made as a team to be able to lead a common life of any kind, at a distance. or in person” says Silvia Sanz, psychologist, sexologist and writer of Sexamor.

Certainly, in modern love, long-distance relationships are the order of the day. A set of unfortunate circumstances such as precariousness or a chain of economic crises, and other favorable ones such as the fight for one’s dreams force, on many occasions, one to have to part ways temporarily. Today this distancing is not perceived as in the Odyssey, where Penelope spends her days knitting and waiting for Ulysses to return from his journey, nor as in all those war movies in which the man goes to war, sends letters and He doesn’t know if he will return. Currently video calls are made, sexting and even the same recipe is cooked at the same time: “Thanks to technology and the ease of travel, we are more likely to accept long-distance relationships. At this moment we are more willing to leave our home if that means having a higher quality of life or doing what we have studied. Furthermore, as the time to start a family has also been delayed, it is more likely that people will opt for professionalism,” says Montse Cazcarra, psychologist, couples therapist and author of Healthy love, good love.

It’s still not a bed of roses (but it’s less thorny)

Although these relationships are more frequent than decades ago, according to Silvia Sanz they continue to pose complications such as jealousy, difficulty managing arguments and the feeling of loneliness. Fortunately, there are now tactics and tips to alleviate them: “Love and the flame of passion can be maintained thanks to all the digital media we have at our disposal. On the other hand, when there are communication problems, it is essential to find the right time to address them and try to make video calls so as not to misinterpret the tone of the messages. You must also try to maintain constant communication and reinforce everything that unites the couple,” advises the expert. Of course, it is important not to become obsessed with being in permanent contact, falling into controlling and toxic overcommunication.

Despite this long list of responsibilities, there are those who know how to take the positive side of this time apart: “It is possible to see the kind side of this circumstance if the two people are very jealous of their independence. In other cases, it can help you miss each other and relive that honeymoon at the beginning of the relationship,” says Montse Cazcarra.

However, the specialist indicates, this situation continues to be due more to a question of resignation – because there is no other option – than of preference. The social study prepared by 40dB for El País and La SER, The perception of love (2022), showed that new generations are more willing to move for their partner. 72.4% of those surveyed belonging to Generation Z and 62.1% of Millennial They would live in another city for love; 55.8% of the Z and 46.2% of the Millennial would move to another country. However, only 57.1% of Baby Boomers would change cities and 40.5% would go abroad. Therefore, this separation does not seem to be due to a lack of interest, but rather to economic conditions. And, according to the EPA for the first quarter of 2024, 353.9 thousand people between 25 and 29 years old and 290.2 thousand people between 30 and 34 are unemployed.

Is technology the solution?

Regardless of the decade in which you live, a relationship of this type requires greater involvement, since it forces you to create intimate moments that cannot arise spontaneously. Although the means exist, personal will remains crucial: “A couple can chat while making dinner, but from a distance that space for sharing does not exist. Since these types of situations do not exist that allow us to connect organically, we have to make the effort to look for them,” says Montse Cazcarra.

Furthermore, the need for this type of contact may be different for each member of the relationship, since the eyes of the person who leaves sometimes see very different things than those of the person who stays. An example of this are the protagonists of 10,000 km (Carlos Marqués-Marcet): Alex has gotten a scholarship in Los Angeles and receives much more stimulation than Sergi, who stays in Barcelona and observes all those spaces in which the other usually lives and in which there is now a space. Many times they do not agree, they regret the time difference, they argue and they are disappointed, but, at the end of the day, they try to find solutions and make an effort to have moments of intimacy. The situation is not simple for either of them: “Although this perception is relative, it is true that for those who leave everything is new and they can experience uncertainty as an adventure, but also with anxiety about losing what they know. On the other hand, for those who stay, everything remains the same and, although in principle it is more comfortable, the person with whom they share their daily lives is missing,” explains Silvia Sanz.

In short, is there a magic formula, besides apps for couples, good night messages, eternal calls and continuing the same series? The ingredients in the recipe are probably variable, but for many the key is a date: “Distance relationships can be postponed for more or less time depending on each person’s decisions and life’s difficulties, but it is important define an end horizon to prosper. It is essential to live in the here and now, but having common plans and projects can help minimize this problem,” says Silvia Sanz.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, safe distancing was widely lamented. Affection in the new normal involved telling each other everything through the screen, sending photos of each other pouting and talking with hope about all the plans that would be made when everything was put back in its place. Technology helped – a lot – to cope with this situation, although no one imagined life like this in the long term. At least not continuously. Songs were composed about it, books were written, and emotional closings of news programs were written. Decades ago, long-distance relationships bordered on the platonic and turned the loved one into a dream or an idealization. At this time, technology and dissemination about psychology are two tools that allow these relationships to be managed in a much more sustainable, healthy and possible way. However, most continue to long for that hug in which to take refuge and feel at home when the day ends.

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