Long distance relationships can be trying. Your loved ones are far away. And there is a constant sense of worry and concern about the wellbeing of each other.  In such a situation it common to experience a high level of stress related to acculturation to a new environment / situation.  However, this is all quite normal considering the early stages of physical separation from each other.

To understand the process of adaptation better it is important to realize that anyone who goes through a migration experience (separation of families, moving overseas to study, to work, fleeing their home country due to persecution) they will undergo a series of stages of adaptation.


The stages are as follows:


  1. Euphoria or tourist stage
  2. Hostile stage
  3. Slow Recovery stage
  4. Acceptance Stage
  5. Cultural integration

How long does each of these stages take?


Dependent on
  1. Psychological state-
  2. Personality
  3. Skills possessed to cope with the transition
  4. Social support system
  5. Coping strategies used in the past


Some of the common areas that impacts families who are separated:


  1. Psychological Adjustment Issues- Depression, anxiety
  2. Family Stress- change in roles of the head of the family
  3. Societal pressures of living alone
  4. Role reversals- children ( a male son put in a position to take a role of decision maker
  5. Employment Problems- (if both spouses were working)
  6. Basic Daily Living Needs- comforts and basic necessities that the family has been used to.


HOW can families cope with separation?


A good place to begin to deal with some of these frustrations would be or both of you to revisit and reflect on the primary reason for the decision that you both have made for this current situation. I am assuming that this decision you both have taken is mutual and is for a specific reason and for a specific period of time. Stay primarily focused on the objective of this decision.

This can help in contain the emotional upheavals that you both are experiencing at this moment.  To make sure that you stay connected and do not lose sight of your objectives it is vital to ensure that you nourish your long distance relationship with the following ingredients-:

  1. Choose a location that is familiar to you where you have access
  2. Communicate regularly –Be open and honest about your feelings and emotions towards each other
  3. Be patient with each other – Remember, these are the initial trying times for both of you. Therefore, make sure that you keep that in perspective and reflect that understanding in your conversations and style of communication
  4. Trust each other-Since you aren’t there all the time with each other, you have to know that a relationship is nothing without trust, and that you need to be patient because you both are acculturating to this change in your life.
  5.  Involve your loved ones in your day to day decision even if you are physically separated. Develop a sense of feeling that each other’s opinions and suggestions matter and are appreciated regardless of the physical distance. 
  6. Make Healthy adjustments to your personal life- Adjustments can mean limiting your social and professional circle to a very small group of people, with whom you do not feel exposed to any unwarranted feelings or decisions. Remember that you will not be lonely all your life.  Stay focussed primarily on the objective of this separation. This helps to keep your long distance relationship in a secure and stable state.
  7. Remind each other the objective of this separation- Remember that all this emotional suffering is not in vain. It is for the sake of the relationship of which you are one of the architects. Trust will and should always remain the mainstay of any relationship. Remember it is only the two of you who can decide on the survival of this separation
  8. Seek a Counsellor if you are unable to deal with the emotional and psychological turmoil of the separation. A trained professional such as a counsellor would be able to help you deal with the separation by helping you to develop healthy coping strategies.

Ms. Sailaja Menon

Position: Relationship/Couple Counselling Psychologist

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