Relationships are never easy. Life is messy, and good relationships don’t just happen. They take a lot of work. Throw distance into the mix, and you have even more baggage—literally and figuratively—to deal with. But for the right person, it’s worth it.
For years, my long-distance partner and I dealt with time differences (he lived in the Netherlands, and I lived in the U.S.), frustrating misunderstandings and confusing circumstances. We did everything we could to make our long-distance relationship work—and I mean everything—and I am happy to say we bridged the gap and recently got married.
If you want to do the same, here are the 10 best pieces of long distance relationship advice I found crucial to keeping the romance alive, the loneliness at bay and the end in sight.
1. Set expectations from the get-go
Your relationship should be the biggest priority in your life if you want it to survive. Decide fairly early on the maximum time you can spend apart without going crazy. Knowing that you both want to close the gap and having an end date in sight will keep you and your partner on the same page.
2. Make use of modern-day technology
I don’t know how people did distance before video chatting and streaming services. One of my favorite things my husband and I did was set up Skype and watch our favorite TV shows together. It helped us to feel like we were still sharing a life. Plus, it’s fun to know that you have date night every week.
3. But don’t talk every day
Everyone knows communication is hugely important in a relationship, especially in a long-distance relationship. But think about quality more than quantity. In the beginning of my long-distance relationship, I used to message him from the moment I woke up until I went to bed. Although it did make me feel close to him, it also made me feel like something was constantly missing from my life. I couldn’t enjoy my days because I just wanted him to be there. Plus, our conversations started to get a little boring. We decided to keep our daily interactions to short messages and saved our real conversations for our Skype calls.
4. Live a full life at home
Don’t reduce your conversations to talking about how much you miss each other or how unfair it is you don’t live in the same city. I know that sometimes when you miss someone, it’s all you can think about. But you need to create a life for yourself where you are. See friends. Have hobbies. Whatever you do, don’t spend every night waiting for him to call.
5. Find a good sex toy
Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of a long-distance relationship is the lack of physical affection. And I don’t just mean holding hands. To keep a long-distance relationship thriving, you have to get a little creative in the bedroom. Fortunately, there are quite a few sex toys made for couples in long-distance
6. Find common interests
It’s important to pursue common interests and create shared rituals despite the distance. My husband and I started a book club. We’d both read the same book, and we’d regularly text each other reactions while we read. Pick something that you both love to do, then think of a way for you to do it together each week.
7. Don’t set yourself up for failure
There’s something about long-distance relationships that brings out the green-eyed monster in all of us. If your partner likes to go to the club with friends but you’re lying in bed at 3 a.m. imagining all the things he could be doing, you’re going to be consumed by jealousy. Set up some guidelines with your guy. Lay down the ground rules early on in the relationship.
8. Resolve conflict as it arises
Every couple fights, but long-distance relationship fights can be harder to resolve. I believe almost all arguments in long-distance relationships are caused by fear: We’re scared it’s not going to work. We’re scared they’ll forget about us. We’re scared they’ll meet someone new. When an argument arises, remember that you love each other. Never end a conversation without resolving the conflict. Don’t debate the issue like opponents. Remember, you’re on the same side.
9. Send him something special every now and then
Long-distance relationship gifts are great ways to remind your man how much you love him even though you’re so far away. Make a book out of your emails and texts, or send him his and hers pillowcases. You can go for romantic gifts, funny gifts, sexy gifts or practical gifts. Remember, it’s the gesture that counts.
10. Stay positive
I know what it’s like to experience the roller coaster of emotions from frustration to joy, sadness to excitement and happiness to anger within a long-distance relationship. You don’t need to be happy 100 percent of the time, but try to at least be grateful all of the time. Be thankful that even though miles separate you, at least you have someone to love and someone who loves you back.
Long-distance relationships can be worthwhile and fulfilling when you have the right tools. Take my advice, and you’ll be on a journey to a happy and healthy long-distance relationship.
Hit us up with your own long distance relationship advice!
What are your best tips for making a long distance relationship work?
Jennifer Craig (Santa Barbara, California)
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