Okay so I have to start off by being straight up and honest with you: long distance relationships are not easy. In fact, they are extremely difficult. Perfectly healthy, amazing and happy relationships fall apart because of the distance. They’re not meant to be easy… if they were, no one would be looking up advice and everyone would be in a long distance relationship all the time forever.
That’s not to say that long distance relationships are impossible either. What they really take is commitment, communication, and consistency. If you can follow these few simple steps, you can make your long distance relationship work, and work well.
1. Keep Things As Normal As Possible
If you want this long distance relationship to work out, it has to feel normal. When you get in contact with each other, it shouldn’t be time you’re “taking out of your day”, it should be a natural habit that happens every day without even thinking about it (1).
And since you won’t be with your partner physically, it’s super important to stay in contact consistently, so that you can keep your emotional connection alive and strong.
Even if some days all you have with each other is some quick checkup texts, it’s way better than nothing. Your goal is to never have a day go by when you don’t talk to each other. And remember – don’t freak out if he doesn’t text you back right away!
A great way to make this easy is to figure out which kind of communication you both like to use. Is he a skype person, or does he like talking on the phone? Do you like video chatting, or writing emails to each other? Experiment and figure out what you like best.
Second, figure out what your schedules are like, and work around them. Find a time that works for both of you, where neither of you feels rushed or pressured so that you can just enjoy talking to each other. That way, you’ll always be able to make time for each other, and you’ll never feel like he’s pulling away.
Take The Quiz: Are You Meant To Be Together?
Don’t forget to talk about the little things! A lot of the time, the little things are what relationships are really made of.
If you go into a long distance relationship expecting every conversation you have to be deep, meaningful, and soul-satisfying, you’re going to be disappointed – and it’s going to put your relationship in jeopardy (2).
Instead, let yourself talk about whatever little things you’ve been thinking about during the day! What you got at the grocery store, what you’ve been doing with your friends, even what you got done around the house. This stuff is the foundation of a strong relationship, don’t forget it!
Make time for lots of visits! As good as lots of communication is, it’s not a replacement for spending actual real time with him in person. Take every opportunity you have to see each other in person (3).
As soon as one visit ends, you two should be planning the next time you can see each other. Remember – there’s no replacement for physical presence and contact, and those are two massively important parts of a relationship.
Make some effort to keep your interest in each other alive. Just because your partner is halfway across the country (or halfway across the world!) doesn’t mean that you can stop paying attention and learning about them. If you stay interested in each other, your relationship can last forever.
Get to know his hobbies and what he likes to do when he’s got down time and he’s not with you, and then engage him about them. It will keep your connection strong.
Whatever you do – don’t idealize your partner and think of him as the greatest person you’ve ever had the good fortune to date. It’s true that time apart makes people more fond of one other, but it dangerous to allow yourself to think that your partner is perfect… because you might be extremely disappointed when you see each other in person again.
Remember, the perfect antidote for this is regular, open communication with each other about the minutia of your daily lives. That will help you remember who he IS, not who you’re idealizing him to be.
Make sure to support him and make sure he knows that he’s responsible for supporting you. If something tragic or awful happens in his life, you should be on the first plane/train/automobile there to be there for him – just like he should do the same thing for you.
Trying to deal with something awful alone can make a person feel isolated and weak, so don’t put him in that situation. Instead, prove to him that you care about him and want to support him by being there when he really needs you.
Remember, long distance relationships are about trust . He needs to be able to trust you, just like you need to be able to trust him. Don’t let yourself get into situations where you might feel some temptation, and if you do mess up and do something you shouldn’t – tell him right away.
Like, let’s say you went out with some friends and you wound up at a bar. If you hid that from your partner for fear that he’d be jealous, you’re undermining your relationship. However, if you’re honest with him and tell him where you were, you’re strengthening your relationship and your trust.
2. Make Sure To Do Things Together!
One of the best ways to stay close in a long distance relationship is to have an activity that you both do together while you’re apart. You could start up a blog with him and write entries to each other, or write stories or poems back and forth.
One great way to stay connected with him is to watch a TV show together, while you’re separate. Pick something on Netflix so that you can do it whenever you have time, then call each other up and start the episode at the same time.
Along that same vein, try to do things at the same time as each other. If you create a ritual around cooking dinner at the same time, you’re going to feel a lot more connected than if you just call every other day or so.
It will feel almost like you’re in the same kitchen, and you’d be preserving a ritual that has kept people feeling close and intimate with each other for centuries.
If you want to take a more active approach, try picking up a new hobby or project and learning how to do it together. You could both decide to learn how to play chess and play against each other, or try learning a new language, or even try to learn how to knit together!
Whatever it is, the most important thing is that you’re doing it together, and you do it consistently. You’ll definitely have something to talk about when you see each other in person!
Don’t forget to put in the effort to making each other feel special.
Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your need for intimacy and self-esteem, so take every opportunity to make him feel good and encourage him to do the same for you.
You could write each other love letters, write poems in emails to each other, send flowers, or even send each other little gifts for no reason. Whatever it is – the most important thing is that thought goes into it, and that you make each other feel special.
3. Make Sure To Set Boundaries And Have Good Expectations
Before your long distance relationship even begins, you have to make sure you’re on the same page. What kind of relationship are you in? Are you expecting each other to be faithful?
Just as important – you both should have an idea when the “long distance” part of the relationship is going to be over. Ask him whether he’ll ever be willing to move to see you – and ask yourself whether you’d be willing to move to him.
They’re difficult questions, but they’ll save you pain in the long run.
Don’t keep your doubts bottled up – talk through them with him! Chances are, he’s feeling the same way, and any doubts or fears you have aren’t going to help the relationship if you’re keeping them inside.
Instead, allow this to be a way that you both make your relationship stronger, by talking through your uncertainties together. The most important thing is that you be honest with each other, so you both know what to be careful of and you know how to treat each other to keep each other happy.
Remember, one of the most important things to do is stay positive ! Long distance relationships are hard enough – and going into them with a negative attitude is going to sink your chances before you’ve even had a chance.
Instead, make sure to focus on the things that are good about being in a long distance relationship with each other. You’ll have a chance to develop as people on your own. Plus, you’ll get a lot better at communicating with each other because you won’t be able to rely on being in the same room to solve misunderstandings.
Keep your expectations reasonable. If you expect to go into a long distance relationship where everything just works, and you never have misunderstandings, and you don’t have to talk to each other that much or put in that much effort, you’re going to have a rude awakening – and it’s going to have harsh consequences for your relationship.
Instead, keep an open mind and make sure to roll with the punches. If something gets messed up or someone makes a mistake – it’s not the end of the world. Remember, keeping your relationship strong is up to both of you, and you both have to put in the effort to make it work. If you can both do that, you’ll be fine!