Long distance relationships are tough. I know, because I’ve been in one for a few months. So to help those who are in long distance relationships, this piece is a collection of tips & stories for how to make a long distance relationship work. It’s my hope that you’ll find at least 1 or 2 nuggets of wisdom here that will be useful to you. 🙂
Recently I put out this query:
What tips/advice can you share for making a long distance relationship work? Personal stories welcome along, the more detail the better.
So far I’ve got 11 great responses to that (including some interesting personal stories), and will continue to add more as more comments come in. If you’ve been in a long distance relationship and would like to share your experience, or you’re a relationship expert with valuable input to share, we’d like to hear from you! Make a submission here and we’ll add it to this article.
Be creative when it comes to communication. When in a long-distance relationship, it is important that you practice creative communication. The usual good morning and good night messages should never be lost. You need to make sure to update the other on the happenings in your life, no matter how mundane it may seem. On top of that, it’s important to send photos, videos, and anything that will make the other person feel attended to, and like they’re with you. Up your game by always bringing something new to the table on how you communicate. There are fun questions that you can bring up to liven up your communication. Think out of the box for ways to communicate with your partner, and you’ll never find yourselves bored when talking to each other.
Learn to prioritize. Different schedules and time zones are the number one reason that long-distance couples barely make it through. It’s important to prioritize your tasks properly so that you and your partner will be able to catch each other at the right time. Make sure to properly communicate the arrangement that works for both of you. Remember to not put your life on hold just because you have to sacrifice some of your time. Find an arrangement that will make each of you productive while not losing constant, quality communication.
Harbor trust. This is the most important factor in making any relationship last, much more so for a long-distance one. It is essential that there’s trust between you and your partner. Take note that not only should you trust your partner, but you should also earn his trust.
Long-distance relationships are never easy. But, if you find the time to prioritize and communicate properly while continuously building each other’s trust, you’ll find that there are things you’ll learn about your partner that you would never have learned if you weren’t long-distance.
--Robin Sutherns, galtelligence.com
I have been in a long distance relationship turned marriage with my husband, Brian. We met in Singapore, while he was on tour here as a Marine Security Guard, guarding the US embassy in Singapore. Subsequently, we were long distance through Russia, China, Japan, Hawaii and mainland USA. Finally, we decided to tie the knot last year in June in Hawaii.
Brian is a US Marine, hence military makes everything more complicated with restrictions on travel, long duty hours, constant moving, and simply being away in different timezones.
Even though we are now married, we still are long distance, because we are unable to close the gap due to long visa processes as well as the Covid situation.
We have been through a lot, including a break up that lasted for a year in the course of our relationship so far. Couples in long distance relationships have relied on advice written by people in near distance relationships and it just doesn’t work for them. Therefore here are our tips for other couples who are struggling through a long distance relationship:
1. Absence does not make the heart fonder.
For Brian and I, we have been through not communicating frequently and leading our own lives a bit too individualistically. That led us to being very disconnected emotionally. We have gone through a phase in our relationship where we went 5 – 10 days without a call. We have since learnt that it takes two to make an effort, to be there for each other and to share about our daily lives. It could be something as simple as a text with a picture of today’s lunch, or a call talking about a day out with friends. The point is to include each other in your lives no matter how insignificant it may seem.
Many couples also seem to think that a call daily or being swarmed with texts is a surefire way to increase the bond between both of you, but I’d learnt the hard way that expecting incessant conversation would lessen the feeling of distance between us. It did not. It drove us apart. Which brings me to my next point –
2. Maintain Regular Contact without Expectation
Communicate daily but do not expect a schedule for calls. Yes, it is a long distance relationship with varying timezones but we don’t wait for each other at 11pm every night to talk – we still have a life. I used to expect that from Brian, as I believe most females would, but having a set schedule simply does not work. It leads to a lot of disappointments from failed expectations because the expectations simply were not realistic in the first place.
In order to stop pining for a call or a text, it is important to keep yourself occupied – with work, hobbies, friends. Do not allow your life to revolve around your relationship. This is pretty generic advice that applies to all relationships, but in a long-distance relationship, it is SUPER easy to let your thoughts be consumed by your relationship because of one simple reason: You are not able to see or feel your partner as often as you want. And that leads to doubts.
4. Focus On What You Have, Not What You Don’t
We don’t focus on the distance between us but look forward to when we can see each other again. The Covid-19 situation did put a damper on our spirits because of all the uncertainty and a throw-off on our plans to see each other again. But we quickly shifted our perspectives to one of abundance to take us out of panic and scarcity mode and into a deeper appreciation of each other.
5. Stay Independent
It is easy to wallow in loneliness but with more time to ourselves, the personal growth curve can be steep with more investment in ourselves as individuals. I could preach self-love or self-care, but it is more than that. It really is about keeping busy, having our own interests and life, and seeking betterment of ourselves because that would only benefit every relationship we have, long distance or not.
--Maxine Bishko, Modpod
I feel like the queen of long distance relationships because I have been in 3!!! 2 went horribly wrong and the 3rd one has now manifested into living together mid-pandemic.
My first LDR was when I left my native Australia and my boyfriend /almost fiancee of nearly 4 years to live in Los Angeles. The second was with a New Yorker who turned out to be seeing many other girls and told me we were never official so why was I upset (damn stab in the heart much?) and the third is my current boyfriend, also moved from New York (but originally from Colombia)
Through trial, error and lots of heartbreaks, I've learned what works and what doesn't
Here is what I've learned about maintaining a successful long distance relationship.
- They MUST have an end point. It won't work if you're apart forever with no end date. At least with an end date, you can have a bit more patience on the hard days
- Both partners have to be 100% into it. If one partner is even the slightest bit not willing to work for it, it won't work because the other person will always feel like they're making more effort
- Schedule date nights - It's important to schedule a date night/regular time together like a normal in person couple would. Whether it's watching the same movie together, a quick facetime or phone sex, put it on the calendar!
- Trust, trust, trust - Very important for long distance. If you can't trust them in general, it's not worth it, but the trust level needs to be even higher in a LDR because you're not there to satisfy the physical needs
--Julie Ann Dokowicz, Girl In Heels Travels
I dated over 8 months with my wife over a long distance relationship before I took the plunge and married her. It's been over 5 years and we are happily married.
I started looking for online dating websites after I had a breakup with my ex-girlfriend. While aimlessly surfing through the site, I met a girl who I found to have similar interest as mine and I found her pretty.
I contacted her through the dating messaging system and expressed my interest. She accepted my invitation and we exchanged emails. She was in a different country and it was not practical to meet face to face. We started conversing with each other trying to know each other's likes and dislikes. I had spent countless hours chatting on facebook messenger and skype.
Communication is key to maintain long term relationships. But sometimes due to distance miscommunication can happen. You can avoid this by being totally honest with each other. And have clear expectations. In the beginning of the relationship, there was a break in communication as I was not able to reach her for 2 weeks. I sent several messages but I got no response. This led me to believe that I had wasted my time and I will never hear from her.
After 2 weeks, I got a reply from her and she told me that she had a medical emergency in her family and there was no communication available to let me know that she can't talk to me for a while. But her open and honest communication made me believe her and I gave her an alternate phone number if she had difficulty reaching me.
At last after 8 months, we have known each other enough that I visited her place and finally got married. For anyone who is in an online relationship, always trust your gut. It's very natural to start thinking wrong whenever there is a communication break-down. But giving other people a chance to explain themselves can avoid any miscommunication. Also be honest about your intentions. If you are looking for a long-term relationship then let the other person know it clearly so there is no surprise or heartbreak in the end.
--Mark Kay, GearTrench
My biggest tip for a long-distance relationship is to communicate: often and clearly. When my husband and I were dating, we were long distance for nearly 2 years, and it was definitely tough. I experienced a lot of separation anxiety from him, but one of the things that made it far easier to bear was communicating regularly, and also being very clear about how and when that communication would take place.
We opted to check in at least once per day. While we didn't always talk on the phone or video chat each day, we made sure that we connected on text or Facebook messenger. This was crucial for our long term success. Not only did it help us feel closer every single day, but it gave us solid expectations for communication. As simple as it was, those little back-and-forths made a big difference for us both, and they were something we looked forward to. And for me, a person with some anxiety, this habit helped me to feel more grounded and secure.
That daily conversation or text was also ideal because even though we were apart, we were both living busy, full lives. A small daily interaction was never a burden, which helped keep things light and fun: essential in any relationship.
My 2nd tip for long-distance love is to take advantage of the mail. There are so many ideas for gifts, love letters, or other items that can be sent in the mail, and this is a simple way to show love even across the miles.
One of my favorite ideas for long distance couples is sending open when letters. These are a series of letters that you send to your partner with an instruction on the envelope to open when---only under certain circumstances. This is an incredibly thoughtful gift (and one that doesn't cost a lot to create) that will make your partner feel your presence even when you are not physically present. Some ideas for open when letters include: open when you miss me, open when you've had a bad day, or open when you need encouragement. Gifts and letters like these are super special in a traditional relationship, but when you're long distance, they help to bridge the gap that distance provides.
--Amy + Nathan Hartle, Two Drifters
Long-distance relationships can be hard, especially for couples who started their relationship within close proximity and now have to endure being away from each other for a period of time. However, couples can still nourish their relationship while being physically apart, thanks to technology.
In order to maintain a long-distance relationship, the couple will have to make it a priority to communicate with each other and think outside the box to keep the spark alive. This includes scheduling a time to speak or see each other via video chat platforms throughout the week. The couple can take this time as an opportunity to get to know each other more and focus on building their emotional intimacy, which is a must needed foundation to build a solid relationship.
The couple can also engage in virtual date nights, where they can get dressed up and order the same take-out or cook the same recipe and then discuss how they like the meal. Other date night fun can include things like playing virtual games, watching the same movie, touring a museum virtually, attending a virtual concert, etc. The point is to continue their dating rituals to nourish their relationship while they are apart.
Doing things together while being apart is another way of feeling connected while being apart. For example, the couple can join a virtual exercise class, read the same book, or begin a new hobby at the same time. By doing things together while being apart, the couple will not only feel connected but they will be sharing similar and meaningful experiences, which also nurtures their relationship while being physically apart. Sending each other gifts, particularly gifts with personal meaning, is another way of feeling connected while also nourishing their relationship.
--Stephania Cruz, Datingpilot
Set Ground Rules - When you’re in a long-distance relationship one of the most important things to do in order to keep the relationship alive is to manage expectations. Set some ground rules to help define what this means for your relationship. Are you exclusive? How often do you realistically hope to speak over the phone? What will ‘dates’ look like? It’s important to iron out these creases so that you’re both on the same page, even if you’re not in the same city.
Keep It Fun - One of the hardest parts of long-distance relationships is the monotony that you easily slip into without regular dates being an option. With this in mind, make a conscious effort to make it fun despite the distance. Whether that’s through sexting, creative videos, or a surprise trip from time to time, take an active role to ensure that the spark stays alive.
--Katie Dames, Feely Feelings
Here are some ideas:
*Keep your partner updated*
Even if they don’t impose, take the initiative to keep your partner updated on the major things that happened to you during the time you are apart. Feeling left out, even if you don’t mean it, will put stress in your relationship in more ways than you can imagine. Even the tiniest thing that you share with them will mean a lot if you are a couple struggling to get through the long-distance together.
*Set some time for a date*
Just like when you were dating in the offline world, set some time for a virtual date. Decide the time and place and treat go all out. Whether it be watching a movie, eating dinner, or playing a game together make sure you both prepare for your virtual date. Dress nicely, do your hair—the point is to give each other something to look forward to.
*Stay home together, if you can*
With all the stress and worries this period brings, bunking together with a loved one is a form of self-care. If the circumstances allow it—say you don’t live states and countries away from each other or if you’re already working from home anyways—seriously consider moving in with each other. With your lover right beside you, you can weather the lockdown and boredom together. Plus, this may be the perfect opportunity to get to know each other better.
--Chris Pleines, DatingScout.com
*Tips for long distance relationships:*
- *High quality of communication:* Do not fall back on a routine regarding topics of conversation
- Avoid redundant topics but e*xplore the boring details of life*. While boring talk like the weather, type of sleep, bills, can get repetitive, boring details of life such as *work gossip, neighbors affairs, and other details makes you be part of each other's lives.*
- *Limit your communication to one or two mediums* e.g. instagram and phone calls, instagram and text messages
- *Don't rely strictly on technology *- send mail and rely on physical objects such as a piece of clothing that reminds you of the person
- *set limits and boundaries* with a purpose as means to avoid getting bored of the conversation and keeping the excitement alive
- *mix up the form of communication *from audio, to video, to message, to email, and snail mail
- *use dirty talk and sexy pictures *on occasion
- do things together like dinner, playing a game, watching a film, read the same book
-* Get dressed up, wear nice lingerie*, make yourself look confidant and pretty for date night over video call
- *Schedule date time:* Watch a movie, read a book together or play a board game
- Set short term goals for the relationship and make a *bucket list together*
- Do not over plan what you will do next time you are together
- *Checking in on someone is different that checking up on someone* --> jealousy can be a real issue, so focus on honest communication and trust in one another
--Dr. Margarida Rafael, Adore Passion
- Set guidelines
One of the most important pieces of long-distance relationship advice is to set some guidelines: what is acceptable for you both, what isn’t. It doesn’t concern only boundaries about fidelity, but also personal boundaries. In the majority of cases, long-distance relationships fail because of a lack of trust and invasion of space, even if the relationships are in virtual space.
- Prioritize your schedules
When it comes to making time for communicating with each other, set the type of communication arrangements that can work, as long as they feel mutually satisfying. When can you devote private time to the conversation? How do you feel about spontaneous texts? Who should initiate the contact? Do you prefer a set time no matter what, or should it vary by the day? These are the questions you both should consider to make sure you feel comfortable and supportive.
--Sirarpi Sahakyan, Self Development Secrets
The best way to keep the spark alive is to keep one on one conversations short. This seems counterproductive when you want to increase a connection with someone, but leaving them “wanting more” is the key to success. You don’t want to spend hours chatting only to reach that point of awkward silence. Having nothing to talk about is what makes the long-distance relationship feel like a chore. Instead, cut conversations off on a high-note so you’re excited to get back on the phone the next day.
--Lana Otoya, Millennialships