Every woman who has been in a long-distance relationship knows all too well the pendulum of joy and pain it brings: the much-anticipated visits from your loved one; the bursts of heaven-like paradise while you're together and the sadness that looms as that dreaded goodbye nears.

Those who are in long-distance relationships or considering it, the age-old questions flood their minds: what are the chances that this relationship will succeed? Should I even bother trying and can love really conquer all?

Family and marriage counsellor, Sis Dukie Mothiba, and her team of relationship experts at FAMSA give advice on how to make longdistance loving (or the decision to be in such as relationship) work for you.

My man has been promoted to a job in another city. What are the chances of a long distance relationship working out?
It depends on individual people. What could be an advantage to one couple may be a disadvantage to another. It will also depend on how much time the couple spends apart and what their intentions for being in the relationship were in the first place. Normally people go into relationships with the genuine intention to make it work and last. Therefore, if circumstances change and one has to move to a faroff place, the couple will naturally want to make an effort to maintain the relationship in as strong and sound a state as possible.

It is also important to set goals for your relationship. Is there a possibility of moving closer together or being in the same city? What are the chances of formalising things at the end of this unavoidable separation? The right purpose of a relationship will help it last. But a relationship that existed only because the partners were available and accessible to each other is not likely to stand the test of a perpetrated separation.

How do we keep our love alive from opposite ends of the world?
Clear communication is important at all times so both can understand that the separation is not bringing an end to the relationship. When a relationship is important enough, the couple will use all modes of contact and communication: telephone, Internet, email, letter-writing, visits, exchange of gifts, etc. When together, the couple should express as much of their love as possible.

When contact is not possible, mutual trust and regular communication will keep the relationship going until the next meeting. Clear communication in terms of feelings, needs, thoughts and intention, and ongoing clarification regarding expectations is an integral part of a healthy relationship whether or not the couple lives together.

Travelling love tip: Have a regular meeting place or holiday half way between your locations. It cuts the travelling distance and cost into half.

What about the temptation which he or I may face while we're apart?
Mutual trust and commitment to each other will help protect the relationship from infidelity. When partners do all they can to keep in touch and make their partner the one important person in their life, then insecurities and temptations can be overcome.

Furthermore, a conscious decision to stick with the right principles and values will help prevent temptation. In a good relationship, partners are honest with each other and they are also constantly coming up with creative ways to enrich and strengthen the relationship. When separation is unavoidable, the couple should use the time to do a careful examination of thoughts, feelings and reasons for their separation as well as a thorough review of the whole relationship.

If all the warning signs are there, can we still save our relationship?
If the relationship is important to both partners, the couple should work on saving it when they see the first negative sign. What enriches the self is not to move from relationship to relationship but to find one person that you want to be a part of your life and to build an enriching relationship with him or her. If it isn't working out, it is still important to discuss new expectations as they emerge.

  • FAMSA offers specialised counselling for individuals and couples nationwide. For more information, visit www.famsa.co.za

    What are the warning signs that things aren't working out?

  • When the focus is more on the negatives than the positives.
  • When thoughts, feelings and needs are no longer shared.
  • When promises and expectations are no longer fulfilled.
  • When the frequency of the contact and communication becomes less and less.
  • When interest and attention wanes.
  • When the purpose or goal of the relationship can no longer be found.

    Have you had a long-distance relationship? Did it work? Tell us in the comment box below.