Long distance relationships are definitely risky, and if you are unfortunate enough to be far away from a significant other, the prospect of potentially ruining your relationship can seem daunting. Just because long distance relationships are difficult, doesn’t mean they’re impossible. Simple adjustments to your attitude and lifestyle can help you keep your loved one in your life.
Part 1 of 5: Preserving Normalcy
1. Communicate in some way every day, more than once if possible. Since you won’t be seeing each other, it’s important to establish and maintain an emotional connection. These don’t always have to be long, in-depth conversations. Tell each other about your little triumphs and tragedies. Ask on for advice. Use an instant messenger program or VoIP for real-time chat, or web cams for that visual connection. E-mail is great, so make sure you use it, especially if long-distance phone calls put a strain on your budget. Ensure the e-mails are substantive and detailed. It will show that you care enough to put in the time and effort.
2. Work around your schedule. Do your best to maintain communication, even if one of you gets busier than the other. If you are the busy one, warn your partner that you may have limited time, and try to send at least a quick email or text, or a share a brief phone call. If you are the not-as-busy person, take advantage of the time by picking up a new hobby, getting in shape, reading a new book, etc. Flexibility is very important.
3. Visit often. Try to make the time to visit each other as often as possible or as often as your budget permits. A relationship cannot thrive if the only thing you have is the phone call. You need to see each other in person at every opportunity. Visit on a regular schedule if you can; if you can’t, make plans for the next visit as soon as each one ends.
- Create your own rituals around your in-person visits. These can be whatever you choose: eating at a favorite restaurant, enjoying a quiet night together at home, sharing a favorite in-person activity, or anything else.
- Smooth out travel logistics so they don’t get in the way of your time together. Know where to meet at the airport or train station. Learn to travel with one bag or leave basics at your partner’s home to save time at the airport.
- Meet away from home sometimes, too. Go visit a place together that is new to both of you.
4. Get to know each other. Just like an proximal relationship, you’ll have to spend some time really getting to know and understand your partner. When talking to your partner, take note of things they enjoy the most (hobbies, day-to-day activities, etc.), and do a little research on it so you have more to do when you see them next. Knowing each other’s preferences will also help when you want to exchange gifts.
- For example: If your partner likes to dance, find the location of different clubs where you will see them next. If you don’t know how to dance, take lessons and you will impress them by your willingness to make an effort on their behalf.
5. Support each other, even over the distance. You have to be there for your partner. If your partner is ever in trouble, or hurt, or whatever, be there for them. Make sure you are available to them so that they can reach you if they need you. If they end up dealing with everything alone, they will eventually not need you. And sometimes, distance permitting of course, that means being actually, physically there for them.
6. Celebrate the boring. Mundane, boring parts of life are a normal part of relationships and so embracing this part of your life together will help keep things normalized. Don’t be afraid to talk about the “boring” parts of your day. Maintain the feeling of being intermingled in each other’s lives, a state of “interrelatedness.”
- Adapt your expectations to the distance. You may not be able to update that person on every detail of your life.
- When you are together, try to do mundane things that couples who live together would do: grocery shopping, cleaning the closet, rearranging furniture/redecorating, etc. It gives the feeling of creating a home together, something you both can look forward to.
7. Create trust. Just as with traditional relationships, trust is incredibly important. Avoid temptations. Try your best to be faithful, lest you destroy the trust on which your relationship relies. Avoid putting yourself in situations where you would be tempted, and let your partner know that there’s nothing to worry about. *Don’t be too anxious or jealous if you don’t always know what they are doing. A little space is harmless and will definitely keep things calm.
Part 2 of 5: Doing Things Together
1. Do things together. Defy the distance. As a long distance couple, it’s important to do other things together besides the usual phone call. In a long distance relationship, interaction over the phone can become dull in the long run. Incorporating other forms of interaction are important. Just think, people in short-distance relationships do not spend the majority of their time talking, but rather doing things with each other. Try to replicate this by finding things to do together.
2. Share something. Share an online journal or scrapbook. This will give you a new way to communicate while also giving you the sense of creating something together. This is an important experience for couples to have.
- Share your online calendars too. If you miss each other, you’ll have someplace to look to see why. You’ll also have something to talk about, as in “How was the concert last night?”
3. Take advantage of the internet. Do an online project or participate in an online community. Edit a wiki or shared Google Doc together. You can also choose an online game that you can play together, whether it is a MMORPG (massively multi-player online role playing game) or something more traditional, such as chess or Scrabble. You will be able to chat while playing and it will give a greater feeling of togetherness.
4. Do the same things at the same time. This will make the distance between you seem smaller and more bridgeable. You’ll feel closer together and you’ll be bonding at the same time.
- Cook the same meal or menu every so often. Even if you don’t both cook, you could both enjoy fresh fruit in season or choose a common snack.
- Read the same book or article. You can even take turns reading it aloud to each other.
- Watch a TV show or movie simultaneously. Keep a call open and share your reactions.
5. Learn together. Take an online class together. Learn a language together. Do any kind of project like this that makes sense for the two of you…but picking up a skill together will give you a wonderful sense of shared history and you’ll have something that really ties you together, while also letting you spend time together and give you something to talk about.
Part 3 of 5: Bonding
1. Send snail mail. Write love letters. Send small gifts, cards, or send flowers for no reason. In this case, quantity is as important as quality. You may discover an advantage over others whose partner is close at hand—you don’t take communication for granted!
2. Pursue common interests, even if it means pursuing them apart. If there’s a movie you’re both interested in seeing, watch it individually and then call each other afterward and talk about it. Read a certain book at the same time. Stargaze while you’re on the phone. Set your watches to go off at the same time every day, and synchronize your alarm with that of your partner. Make it a point to think of each other when your watch goes off, and revel in the fact that he or she is thinking about you, too. Find creative ways to bond.
3. Create connections. Meet one another’s friends, online or off. If one of you must someday move so that you can be together, that person will be leaving friends behind. Start right away to begin a new social and professional network for the partner who is moving. In the meantime, you’ll both know who’s in the stories you tell each other.
4. Sleep together. On a phone call before bed, let each other know which side of the bed you are lying on. Then you two can lie on the opposite, and pretend you are with them while you sleep. Fall asleep together on Skype now and then to help maintain love in the relationship. When you wake up in the morning the first thing you will see is your partner.
Part 4 of 5: Setting Expectations and Boundaries
1. Understand what you have. Ask the important questions right away to make sure you are both clear on the nature of the relationship. Naming your relationship (dating, seeing each other, boyfriend-girlfriend, engaged) as well as defining exclusivity (limited to one person) can be difficult and awkward questions to ask, but will save you great heartache and misunderstanding down the line. Stating your end goals and expectations will allow you both to work together to build the relationship you want.
- Example: “Are you open to relocating if the relationship becomes more serious?” or “What are you looking to get out of this relationship?”
2. Create trust. Avoid the temptation to be controlling. People have free will and no one can or should control another person. As long as you are both interested in being in the relationship, you will stick with it and distance will not make a difference. As soon as one of you decides the other is not a good match—or someone else is a better match—your relationship ends, whether you live 3000 miles apart, two streets over, or share the same bed with your wedding picture on the wall. You are going to have to trust each other completely if this relationship is going to work.
- It helps to go into the relationship with the idea that everyone is innocent and worthy of trust until proven otherwise. Don’t interrogate your partner every time he/she decides to go out with friends or doesn’t return a call right away. Just because you are in a long-distance relationship doesn’t mean your lives will pause.
- It’s just as important make sure you are being up front with your partner and not leaving them room to have questions, concerns or trust issues. Your partner will naturally have a social life where he/she lives and so should you. You should both maintain your social activity and be happy with yourselves.
3. Talk about your goals. Support and encourage each other. You may find that you can do things for each other that you couldn’t quite find the motivation to do on your own. Perhaps you could motivate yourselves to get some exercise or to cook better or more often. It will give you something to do while you wait to see your partner again, and it will give you both something to strive for and talk about until then.
4. Talk about your future together. Assuming that ultimately you’d want to live together, discussing how you’re going to get to that point will help you prove to each other that the relationship is going somewhere and that your efforts and frustrations are not in vain.
- Figure out who is moving so that you can be together. Will you both move, or just one? Think ahead to a career for the partner who is moving.
- Decide on a reasonable target time for the move. What must first be finished before you can start your new lives together? Do either of you need to end a lease, sell a home, quit a job, or give notice to housemates in order to move?
- As appropriate, include finances in your long-term plans. Will you need money for a larger home to share? For an airline ticket? For moving belongings? For a wedding? How will you share your finances when you are together? Put together a budget for these needs, with an extra cushion if possible.
- When the time comes, move beyond discussion and start putting the plans in place as soon as it makes sense to do so. If you can’t be there to help pack boxes for your partner, you can still help to plan the schedule, research movers, create a network to help the moving partner find friends, work, and school in a new home, and much more.
- Tackling these realities head-on and across the distance may be challenging, but keep in mind the end goal of being together. Not only will your plans make that reality possible, but your ability to plan will give you a strong foundation for your new life together.
5. Talk through doubts, uncertainty, and fear together. Explore the scary and difficult subjects along with the good. Talk is your best way to keep together across the distance. Use it to explore your feelings together honestly.
6. Prioritize the time you do share. Because time together is scarce, when you do see each other, take as much advantage as possible of your ability to be intimate with each other. You don’t have that privilege during those stretches when you can’t be with each other physically. Keep those feelings of excitement and attraction alive.
Part 5 of 5: Staying Happy
1. Be positive. Staying positive and not focusing on the negative aspects of a long-distance relationship is essential to keeping your relationship blooming. Being away from your sweetie is not all bad news. Use the opportunity of personal time to pursue your interests and hobbies as well as your career objectives. Another positive point is that long distance dating pushes both of you to be more creative, to communicate better since you don’t have “face-to-face” time and to test (and express) your feelings. As long as you see the long-distance relationship as a temporary state, you will keep your chin up and transmit that feeling of security and happiness to your partner too.
2. Enjoy the benefits of a long distance relationship. Consider: more time with friends and/or family, no arguments over toothpaste caps, the pleasure of seeing your sweetheart again after a long absence, time to mull your options (rather than snapping at your partner impulsively) before you respond to that email s/he wrote that seemed so rude the first time you read it, not being dragged into a bunch of chick flicks, etc.
- Living far apart gives you both a chance to grow as individuals. Some couples break up to “find themselves”, but in a long distance relationship you both have enough space to do your own things and still have a connection. Keep a piece of them with you, and vice versa. Keep something of theirs so that you always feel connected to them. Similarly, give your partner a personal object of yours so when they miss you, they are able to hold on to something that once belonged to you. This will provide comfort, happiness, and the thought of being with you.
3. Keep a piece of them with you, and vice versa. Keep something of theirs so that you always feel connected to them. Similarly, give your partner a personal object of yours so when they miss you, they are able to hold on to something that once belonged to you. This will provide comfort, happiness, and the thought of being with you.
4. Leave your scent. When you visit, leave behind some of your favorite cologne, perfume, or soap. Or mail each other clothes that smell like you (even your sweat!) Your partner can occasionally mist an area to have your scent/essence in the house.
5. Keep your angst in check. Long distance relationships are difficult, as you are emotionally attached to a person you cannot touch or comfort. You may have negative thoughts or feelings that are not true; you may doubt your love feelings; or, because of some fights over the phone, you may feel that you don’t feel the way you did before for your partner. But try to keep these feelings in perspective as distance can aggravate them.
6. Have reasonable expectations. Remember, every kind of relationship takes hard work and dedication to your loved one or partner, whether it’s long distance or proximal. If you and your partner are willing to take these steps, then expect bumps and turns in the road. If you can learn to navigate them, these bumps and turns will only help contribute towards a better relationship in the long term.
7. See the similarities. A long-distance relationship is similar to a proximal relationship in that they both require a great deal of work, excellent communication, patience, sacrifice and understanding. But you will have to work extra hard to maintain the communication and to stay focused enough to not let your daily life interfere with your desire to be with the other person.
8. Stop listening to the haters. Question advice from people who have never been in a long distance relationship themselves. This may only cause doubt. Everyone has a unique experience of life and their doubts do not dictate your future.
Edited by Imperatrix, Ben Rubenstein, Krystle C., Versageek and 218 others
Link to this article