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The time difference is one of many challenges for long-distance couples. The obvious issue is to sync your schedules and availability when you want to talk. Another problem is being in the mood to talk.
Your mood changes as you go through your day, you may feel energised at certain times and tired a few hours later. So, while you might be ready and willing to talk to your long-distance partner, they could be tired and need a rest.
When this happens, you might feel they don’t want to talk to you. At the same time, if your partner decides to speak to you even though they rather have a nap, you may not get as much attention as you would have liked.
- Identify your personal commitments
- Allocate your ideal times and duration for your video calls
- Create a relationship calendar
- Arrange the days and times when you are going to talk
- Set a day for your weekly review
Lets take a look at each of these steps in some detail…
1. Identify Your Personal Commitments
Let’s start with one example where your partner wants to talk to you because they already finished their day. So they are at home in the evening, happily resting, watching TV and eager to talk to you. In this case, they would be needier and more demanding of your time.
At the same time, you are on the other side of the world and in the middle of your day, probably still busy with whatever you have to do. You may have some free time to talk to your partner, but quite likely, you still have a lot of other things you want to get done before getting home to rest.
First, establish how much time each of you needs to feel connected and feel like you are in a relationship. Keep in mind that while it is possible to make your long-distance relationship work with time difference, it is not sustainable long-term.
Click here to learn how long a long-distance relationship should last.
Before you consider the times when you are going to talk to your partner, each of you need to think of what you do every day and every week. Consider everything you have to do and want to do. Both are equally important to keep a healthy life balance.
Reflect on your timetable and write down your personal commitments. You and your partner should consider your own timetables separately and everything you have to do outside of this relationship before you start considering the times and days you talk to each other.
This is important to prevent unnecessary compromises, sacrifices and build understanding and consideration for each other.
Having a set of clear goals for your personal life and your relationship will give direction to your long-distance relationship. Our step by step guide is here if you need some help getting started.
2. Allocate Your Ideal Times and Duration for Your Video Calls
Once you and your partner have determined your personal timetables independently of each other, you can identify the free slots you can allocate to your video calls.
Before you establish your relationship schedule, write down the times and days when you are free, happy and willing to talk.
The greater the time difference, the more planning you and your partner have to do. If you are somewhere in America and your partner is in Europe, the time difference is about 6-8 hours.
In this case, you would need to arrange your day, so that you have some time in the afternoon to talk to your partner.
Your availability would depend on whether or not you are working, in university or college or if you simply have a few activities in the afternoon. With a bit more planning you may be able to arrange some time to talk to your partner.
If you start compromising or feeling the pressure from having to talk to your partner, soon you won’t feel good in this relationship.
Depending on who is compromising, one of you will start feeling like you are giving more to the relationship than the other or that you are giving more than what you are happy to.
One partner will feel more deprived of life with friends and family and the other partner will feel that they are giving more to the relationship, and will expect more.
If you would like some help building a strong foundation planning your long-distance relationship, take a look at this workbook.
3. Create a Relationship Calendar
Now, it’s time to compare your schedules. In the previous step, you and your partner identified something that would work for each of you individually regardless of each other. Now bring all of this information together and have a discussion.
To make things easier, you can create a calendar on your laptop and share it with each other. If you don’t want to share every single event on your personal calendars, create a separate relationship calendar.
When the times you can talk to each other overlap, those times become the ideal times for you to have some time together.
With online calendar, you can match when both of you are available to talk. It will also get you acquainted with the personal life of your partner, which can make you feel even more involved in their personal life.
The degree of involvement will depend on how intimate you are with each other at this point in your relationship. If intimacy is a topic you would like to explore more, check out this workbook that is designed for you and your partner to work together and build intimacy while you are in a long-distance relationship.
Here is a suggestion on how to allocate slot times according to how much time you can spend with each other by creating different slot types. You can allocate colours to each time slot, for example:
- Slot 1: 5-10 mins – to hear each other’s voice.
- Slot 2: 10 to 20 mins – to catch up with your day, and share the news.
- Slot 3: 20 mins to 1 hour – share your feelings, reflect on your relationship, set some goals, and make some plans.
- Slot 4: 1 hour plus – use it for online dates, meaningful conversations, online games, watching a film, having virtual sex, reading a book, etc.
Once you have a relationship calendar for the days and times you are going to talk, you can consider whether or not you would want to share your whole activity calendar with your partner. The benefit of doing it this way is that you can have conversations about your personal events.
This depends if you and your partner are comfortable sharing every detail of your life, if not, you may want to keep your personal calendar and your personal events to yourself and then the solution could be blocking out the time you are doing other activities without explaining what the time is for.
However, this can raise some questions:
- What are you doing during that time?
- Why don’t you want to share it with me?
So, if you feel comfortable enough to share your personal calendar, do it. If you are unsure, create a calendar where you include only certain types of activities and things you would like to share with your partner.
There are two sides to this approach:
- One side is in a healthy relationship with trust you shouldn’t have to hide what you are doing and with whom. At the same time, you may want to reserve a bit of privacy for yourself just because this is what you want to do.
- The negative side is that this privacy can be perceived by your partner as you hiding something, so they can start feeling jealous or suspicious. You may just not be ready to share everything with your partner yet, but as your relationship evolves, you may be open to sharing all your activities. You may want to allow some some time for this to happen organically.
So, when creating your relationship calendar, you and your partner will need to decide:
- How are you going to manage your schedule on a technical level?
- Which calendar are going to use?
- How are you going to share it?
- Are you going to share all your events?
- Are you going to have a relationship calendar which is separate from your personal calendars?
The idea of a relationship calendar can also be taken long-term. For example, when you visit each other, how long you are going to spend together. And in those logs, you can add little notes on the different topics. You may want to discuss when you see each other, the activities, you want to do, the places you want to visit, etc.
The way you approach this step depends on the degree of trust you have developed with your partner up until now. This process may bring up trust issues that you were aware of as well as the hidden ones. If this happens, you can always use our guide to deal with these trust issues effectively.
4. Arrange the Days and Times When You Are Going to Talk
Discuss with your partner over a video call the days and times you want to talk to each other. Limit the discussion to just the following week.
Discuss how much communication you and your partner need to maintain the connection and feel loved and cared about. Then, you can decide when and how long you want to talk during the following week. Click here to learn how to maintain emotional connection in a long-distance relationship.
Try to work around the ideal times that work for both of you, if those times are not enough create additional slots.
For example, you established that on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. your time, you are free for one hour and you would like to talk to your partner. And your partner happens to have that slot chosen to talk to you as well, but only for half an hour. Let’s say from 4:30 until 5:30, which means you have an overlap of 30 minutes. So, this 30 minutes is your ideal time.
If you would like to talk more, you can extend, if at all possible, maybe 15 minutes each way, so 4:45 to 5:45. Then, each person can add an extra 15 minutes of their original agreed time if it is convenient for both of you. Just remember that those things are extras, be mindful of expecting the same every time ow you will be compromising.
Avoid compromising as much as possible. It is ok to compromise now and then, but only when it is convenient for both of you.
If you chose to compromise, do not expect your partner to compromise.
For example, if you have a slot from 5:00 to 5:30 where both are happy to talk a bit longer, you can add extra 15 minutes from 4:45 to 5:00.
Even though you might want to spend extra time with your partner, don’t expect your partner to have that time to talk to you. It could be nice if it happens, but it’s not an expectation. You should allow them the freedom to decide for themselves.
If you don’t have enough overlapping time to have long conversations, maybe you can agree to have short talks of 10 to 15 mins to have a quick catch-up to hear each other voices. If you want to talk about something specific that requires longer, like an hour, you could plan to have that conversation within the next couple of weeks.
Do not try to squeeze in a meaningful conversation in a 10 mins catch up slot.
Here are some ground rules:
- Once you set the slots for the next week, do not change them unless there is a real emergency.
- Do not go over your agreed set time no matter what.
- Do not start conversations outside of the scope of the particular slot you agreed on.
In this step, you get to combine what you want to talk about during the next week with the available time that works for both of you.
5. Set a Day for Your Weekly Review
Having a day to organise when you are going to talk the following week is very important. This is the day when you go through all of these steps on your own and then together. You may want to allocate an hour to talk about things and plan. Use this review session just for this, do not bring other topics of conversation into it.
Do not expect to make an initial agreement of talking, let’s say three times a week, and then having to stick with it for months to come. Things in your personal lives change all the time, and you need to be ready to accommodate them.
To deal with it, you can have a review session every week to specifically talk about your communication. Then you can discuss if you are happy with the way things are or if there are days where you need to adjust the times, duration or days of your conversations.
So, making a plan for your conversations one week ahead rather than for the whole relationship is more flexible and allows both of you to fit in your personal lives while enjoying the time you spend talking to each other.
This is a constant checking and adjusting to each other’s lives. It is not a set-in-stone agreement. However, once you agree on something, you should stand by it and make it happen. You can agree to talk on a certain day, keeping in mind that those times may change in special circumstances.
Because each person has a life, understanding that you will give priority to your partner because you already agreed that those times were okay for you, but it has to be some flexibility.
Planning for one week ahead allows you the flexibility to change things weekly. So, the whole point of the agreement is that you stick to it. Because if you don’t, if you are completely flexible, then you may end up changing the dates all the time. And, in the end, it won’t solve anything, but will create more problems.
Speaking of problems, check out the common ones you may face in this article.
Whereas, on the other hand, planning for one month ahead may be more difficult to stick to your plan as things will come up in work, family commitments or something else, and you may have to cancel the time with your partner. So it is better to have a weekly plan for communication and try to stick with it no matter what.
Having set dates to talk with your partner allows both of you to have structure and predictability while allowing you some room to organise your life.
Once you agree on how many times and for how long you are going to speak that week outside of any real emergency, you should make a lot of effort to stick to that agreement. Next week, you can review what worked and what didn’t and make certain adjustments for the week ahead.
By the end of the week, you will know whether you have certain family, friends or job commitments that you want to attend. Then you can adjust your day and week accordingly.
Making a long-distance relationship work has certain challenges and time difference is one of them.
The question is whether or not you can manage this time difference, and for how long?
The greater the time difference, the more planning you have to do to manage it.
If the time difference between you and your partner is around 12 hours, one person could be sleeping while the other one is half way through their day.
Problems arise when partners want to be in touch all the time. This can lead to needy behaviour, which is not sustainable.
In a serious long-distance relationship, your priority should be setting a deadline for moving in together and having a plan to achieve it. Once you have set this goal and have a realistic plan to move in together, you can enjoy your long-distance relationship, even with a big time difference.
Trying to have a long-distance relationship long-term, with a significant time difference, is likely to cause conflicts, heartache, frustrations and arguments. To help you manage your emotions and problems, check out this article to see what it takes to make a long-distance relationship work.
Imagine the scenario where you are tired, while your partner wants to talk. What would you do in that situation? If you make that conversation happen, you are not going to be fully present, nor interested in the conversation, because you need to rest. This is likely to leave your partner feeling ignored or neglected.
At the same time, you might be tired, yet you still agree to talk, instead of getting a rest. Now you are compromising and sacrificing your wellbeing. After doing this for a while, you may start blaming your partner for your tiredness and frustrations. This can cause more conflicts. Compromising too much and too often may lead to being resentful.
Here are some tips to help you manage the time difference in you relationship:
- Plan your video calls.
- Agree to spend a certain amount of time with each other on specific days.
- Consider your personal timetables and commitments.
- Establish that your long-distance relationship is a temporary situation.
- Set a specific date for moving in together.
- Make a plan to make your relationship work until then.
- Express your needs for communication from the very beginning.
- Set the day of the week where you agree on, when and for how long you can talk during that week.
- Remain flexible to adjust your communication to your and your partner’s personal commitments.
- Discuss how much time communicating you and your partner need to feel connected.
- Write down your individual commitments outside of your relationship.
- Identify the times and days when each of you are free to talk.
- Create a relationship calendar.
- Avoid compromising too much.
Try to be understanding of your partner’s commitments and ask them to be understanding of yours.
Consider the time difference to be part of the plan to make your long-distance relationship work until you can move in together. To help you out, here is our complete guide that covers every aspect of a long-distance relationship step by step.
You may start compromising to please your partner. If this happens repeatedly, you may start feeling obliged to talk and will soon start feeling resentful for not doing what you wanted and needed to do for yourself.
You might be tempted to resort to lying and instead of telling your partner you want to do something else, you make up stories. For example, if your partner is jealous of you going out with a particular someone, you may end up telling them you are going out with someone else or visiting your family.
If you would like to keep your relationship strong and healthy, you should not lie as it compromises the trust. This can lead to more fundamental issues and you may find yourself in a toxic relationship.
Not managing the time difference can actually destroy your relationship. On the bright side, with trust and good communication, you can handle your personal commitments and plan ahead your communication.
Hopefully this article will help you manage your long-distance relationship work despite the time difference. Knowing how to manage your time difference can help you to have a healthy and successful long-distance relationship.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you talk about time difference in a long-distance relationship?
To talk about the time difference between you and your partner it is best to said aside an hour or so we’re both of you are free from commitments. First, bring up the facts of your situation. Then, you can share your feelings and discuss what works For both of you and what aspects of your relationship you need to improve.
How do long-distance couples handle time zones?
Some couples in a long-distance relationship don’t know how to handle the difference in their time zones. This creates many problems and can cause a lot of stress to both partners. As long as you are in a long-distance relationship, you should approach distance objectively and handle every aspect of your relationship that is affected by distance with care.
How do you solve time zone problems in a long-distance relationship?
To solve time zone problems in a long-distance relationship you need to consider how much this difference affects your relationship. Generally, the greater the time difference the more planning you have to do to manage your communication.
How do you fix a long-distance relationship that’s falling apart?
It’s a long-distance relationship that is falling apart, you must understand the core issue behind the problems you’re facing. Once you recognise and express your feelings about a particular area of your relationship, try to approach your situation as objectively as you can. Keeping your emotions and facts separately, will help you address your problems in a healthy way.
Is it possible for long-distance relationships to ever work?
It is possible for long-distance relationships to work for a short while. Lots of problems arise when couples try to maintain a romantic relationship for months on end without a clear plan and a specific date to move in together. A long-distance relationship should be considered a temporary situation, which can be managed very well if you know the potential problems and challenges you my face while apart, so you can prepare to address them in a healthy way.
How Healthy Is Your Long-Distance Relationship?
If you are having doubts about your long-distance relationship and are not sure if you should try to fix it or let it go, here is our step by step guide to help you and your partner reassess your relationship and make an educated decision that works for both of you.
Relationship Coaching for Long-Distance Couples
Long-distance relationships are hard to maintain without knowing exactly what they involve.
However, once you understand what long-distance relationships are, what they are not and how to navigate them, you are a lot more likely to make it work.
We specialise in helping long-distance couples create and maintain a healthy relationship by building intimacy, trust and effective communication.
If you are starting a long-distance relationship or are already in one, send us a message to book an individual coaching session for yourself or a couples coaching session for you and your partner.