Ways to Make Long Distance Work

As a veteran of long distance relationships (I’ll refer to it here as “LDR”), I’ll tell you straight up what everyone thinks about LDRs: they don’t work. I’ve done 2 years of long distance (from 2 different relationships), spent months researching statistics about the outcomes of LDRs and tips to make it work, and went through months at a time when I’d cry myself to sleep every night because of the stress of long distance (not to mention trying not to burst into tears throughout the day).

I tell everyone I care about who considers getting into an LDR not to do it, because I know firsthand how painful it can be. You feel like half of yourself is missing every minute you’re away from your partner. Whenever you see cute couples, you wish PDA were outlawed. You spend most of your time wishing you were somewhere else or talking to your partner instead of enjoying the company of those around you. (I know it seems like I’m just trying to talk you out of LDRs, but I’m getting to the point) But, I also know how beautiful long distance love can be. If you’re lucky enough, you find a person who you’re crazy about enough to promise them that you’ll be faithful from miles away, that you’ll spend your Friday nights on Skype with them instead of scouring nightclubs for a piece of ass, that you’ll spend your hard-earned money to travel to visit them even if only for a few days, etcetera, etcetera.

So if you’re brave (and crazy) enough to commit to a LDR, here are a few lessons I’ve learned on trying to make it work. Side note: these tips work well for non-long distance relationships too.

  1. Define the terms of your LDR very clearly. Make sure you each understand what the other person expects from this relationship and agree on what you both think is fair to ask of each other. Some of the key topics to discuss before agreeing to the LDR are whether or not you’re allowed to date or get physical with other people, how often you’ll visit each other, how often/when you’ll set aside time to communicate, and so on.

  2. Set a timeline. One of the biggest reasons why LDRs don’t work is because a couple has to be away from each other for too long, so it feels like the pain of being apart will last indefinitely. If you set at least rough dates for when you’ll be able to visit each other, you can count down the days together, and it’ll make the time apart much more bearable.

  3. Take turns and make compromises. Alternate when visiting each other, so you each make an equal effort on spending money or traveling to the other person. Take turns if you need to sacrifice other important engagements to make time for each other, or with staying up late to talk to each other. That way, you don’t feel like one of you is doing all the work with keeping the relationship together, and you appreciate the equal effort your partner makes.

  4. COMMUNICATE. I can’t stress this enough. Without communication, there is no relationship. You don’t have the luxury of seeing each other face to face, so you have to put in the effort and make sure you let each other know what’s going on in your lives. Figure out what works best for you two, then call, Skype, text, email, Facebook message, or send courier pigeons to each other regularly. A lack of communication can cause either party to worry, which can lead to more trouble in the relationship.

  5. Keep a journal or log of what goes on in your daily life. It’s easy to forget what happens throughout the day and when you talk to your long distance partner, you want to have interesting things to tell them. Writing down things you think of that they’ll want to hear about can help you avoid awkward conversations where neither of you has much to talk about, so you can keep the spark between you two. I keep a little notebook in my backpack at school for stuff like this and it helps.

  6. Don’t isolate yourself to the relationship. While you may want to spend every waking moment talking on the phone with your significant other, it’s important to stay close to the friends and family around you. Just because this one person isn’t in your presence doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful relationships and fun times with other people who care about you too. It’s unhealthy to be codependent in a relationship, so make the most of your situation and cherish the people you do have around you instead of always pining for someone who can’t be there.

  7. Do thoughtful things for your partner to remind them that you care. You can’t see each other face to face on a daily basis, kiss, hug, (or any other physical activities), so it’s easy to lose the romance in a LDR. But you can still do little romantic things to show your affection. You could send flowers or chocolates, themed care packages, etc. Even though it’s super easy to communicate through Facebook, letter writing is a more romantic, thoughtful way to show your love you care. Get creative — write your partner a story about how you fell in love, make handmade cards for your anniversaries, fold up little origami hearts to give them for each day you were apart, make a video montage of your barf-worthy-cute couple pictures. These romantic gestures will show your partner you’re thinking of them, miles and miles away.

  8. Have long distance dates. You may not be able to go out to the movies and hold hands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still watch movies together and spend quality time. Set a date and time that works for both of you when you can have a Skype date. You can each prepare a meal (simultaneously or before the Skype call) then each eat in front of your laptops, so you can enjoy good food and each other’s company. Or, you could Skype while you each stay in and watch the same DVD at home. Distance can’t stop you from having a good time when you’re both willing to work a little extra to be romantic.

  9. Either stay 100% committed or end it. The worst thing you can do in a LDR is break your promises. Whether you agreed to stay monogamous, call each other once every other day, or text daily, you made a commitment to this person, so you have to honor it. If you lose sight of why you’re in the relationship, think it over and break up with them if that’s what’s right for you. Just don’t string them along while you ignore them or mess around with other people, because that can mess up a person emotionally for the long term (plus it’s wrong).

I probably sound like a cynic here, but that’s not true. I love love. Although I’ve been scorned by love on multiple occasions, deep down, I still believe that there’s someone out there for everyone. And if you think you’ve found that someone, but you’re thinking of ending it because one of you has to move away, don’t give up hope. I put myself through hell going through LDRs, but some of the best, most romantic moments of my life happened because I took a chance and tried. So if you’re going to try long distance too, I wish you the best of luck—and check back on the blog in the future for more posts on LDRs!

-Chloe