It’s no secret. Long-distance relationships are hard. Not only do you have to handle the typical arguments and challenges that come with any couple, but you must also be ready to deal with all of this without actually having the other person there to work things out.
For the past year I have been dealing with these struggles myself. My partner lives in San Diego, over 500 miles away. And while I don’t deny that our relationship has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it has also been the most rewarding. I’ve found a person who makes me truly happy and our partnership is strong and healthy despite the distance.
Over the past year I’ve gained a lot of insight from the online LDR community and have put together a list of several things that every long-distance couple should keep in mind.
- Communication Is Everything. Most couples have the luxury of seeing each other every day, or at least close to it. But if you and your partner have significant distance between the two of you, you don’t have the option, so it is vitally important you make do in other ways. Whether it be text messaging or phone calls, internet chatting or video calls, staying in regular contact with your significant other will ease the pain of being apart.
- Honest Is the best policy. Body language and other subtle nuances that you would visibly pick up on are something you’re going to have to learn to do without. In place of that you and your partner must learn to be brutally honest with each other. The result otherwise is a cold distance in the relationship. Physical distance is hard enough, adding emotional distance can often being the breaking factor between a couple.
- Be Realistic. It is crucial to the survival of the relationship that you and your partner both understand that you both have lives outside of the other. If they take a while to respond to you, don’t automatically assume the worse. Maybe the got caught up at work or didn’t hear the phone. The likelihood of them actually ignoring you is very slim.
Another thing I’ve been asked more than once is, “How do you and your partner spend together if you’re not there physically?” While nothing compares to the feeling of having them there with you, there are some fun ways to show your love and grow closer. One suggestion I give is to set up “dates.” Dress up in nice clothes and cook the same meal, something you both love, and have dinner together over a Skype call. Or have a movie date using Synaptop or another dual-streaming site.
Sending things together can also add a lot of joy to the relationship. Regular love letters and packages can show a great deal of affection. Spend some time collecting little tokens and gifts that your lover would enjoy and send a “care package” of sorts once you’ve gathered some things.
Another tool I’ve grown to love is smartphone apps designed for couples. The Couple app is by far my favorite. These apps allow you and your partner to share private messages and pictures, as well as many fun features like live drawing and media sharing. They’re a great way to stay in touch while on the go.
Even the smallest gestures can make the biggest difference. Text messages of “I miss you” or “Thinking of you” throughout the day can remind your partner that they are cherished and loved even if you’re not physically there to show it. Sending them songs and pictures that made you think of them can always garner a smile as well.
Planning visits is one of the greatest joys of being in LDR. Regardless of the length between you, travel is expensive, so talk to your partner about setting aside money to fund a trip. Make sure the plans between the two of you are clearly set up before you leave. This will help eliminate stress once you’ve reached your destination. And cherish each moment once the two of you are together. Take more picture than you think you need and do as many fun things as you can. These reminders and memories will ease the ache of parting again.
And one thing to keep in mind when preparing for your visit: Keep an open mind. Because it is almost guaranteed you’ll have some awkward moments and even moments of doubt. But don’t let those feelings fester or dictate your actions. Be open and honest with your partner, tell them how you feel. Your first visit is more of a “getting to know you” period than anything else and it will feel that way at first. But if you’re able to work through this nervousness, you’ll find that there’s much less to be anxious over than you thought.
Not every couple can survive distance, it’s true. You are your partner must both be truly committed to the other and prepared to handle the extra stress and hardship. But with love, honesty, and understanding, beating the distance is more than possible.