Being in a long distance relationship is simultaneously one of the most rewarding and most difficult things I have ever done.
At the time of writing this, my boyfriend Josh and I have been together for two and a half years, one and half of which have been long distance. I live in the United States and he lives in the United Kingdom, so it’s definitely a big distance between us.
The majority of people in my life have never been in one before, so I felt quite alone in the experience. My hope is that my advice for long distance relationships helps others who are in the same situation I was. While it’s hard work, I wouldn’t change a thing (except closing the distance — which is hopefully happening soon!).
Before I get into the advice, I want to preface this by emphasizing that ANY relationship hoping to survive distance needs two basic components from both sides: trust and commitment. Without these, the relationship won’t work.
As the saying goes, trust is the foundation of any relationship. This is doubly true in a long distance relationship. When you’re going long stretches of time without seeing each other, insecurities and uncertainty will run rampant if there’s no trust.
Worrying about whether or not they’re seeing another person and obsessing over how they spend their time when you’re not communicating is a super fast way to kill a long distance relationship. You need to have faith in your partner’s ability to be trustworthy and committed to you.
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Many relationships that thrive under “normal” circumstances suffer under long distance. I’m not saying that all relationships will fail if they become long distance, it just takes a lot more effort to make them work.
Being in a relationship where you only see your partner in person a couple of times a year is a lot different than being in a relationship where you see each other every day (or even a couple of times a week).
Both parties need to be equally committed to having a successful relationship — one person can’t carry the whole thing!
Josh and I often go six months at a time without seeing each other. If either one of us weren’t 100% dedicated to making this work, the relationship would be a flop. No matter how much two people love each other, if one party isn’t willing to put in the effort required to make the relationship work, it won’t.
I am, by nature, an anxious individual. I have an unfortunate tendency to worry and convince myself of things that aren’t true. However, I have complete confidence in both Josh’s faithfulness and commitment to our relationship,which makes the whole thing possible.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the advice!
The biggest part of a successful long distance relationship is making sure that you and your partner communicate.
I highly recommend taking the time to have a conversation to address the needs of both parties. Some people are happy with texts every couple of days to check in (like my boyfriend), while others would prefer a daily phone call (me). This disconnect in our communication struggles caused a TON of problems in our relationship when it first transitioned to long distance.
I can’t give you a set formula that will work for all long distance relationships because every single person and partnership is different. I encourage you to be open and honest with your partner and communicate your needs. While it can be a bit intimidating, I promise it will be worth it. Don’t just assume that the other person knows exactly what you need. Nobody is a mind reader!
Once we finally sat down and discussed our needs for communication in the relationship, things suddenly became much easier. We were able to reach a compromise that satisfied both of us and we no longer have clashes regarding how much we talk.
One thing I do recommend on the communication front is scheduling “dates” with your partner. Designate times where you’ll both be free for an hour or two to just talk and hang out on FaceTime. While nothing can compare to actually being together in person, knowing that you have those uninterrupted times to spend together is really nice.
Take time to focus on the little things
While full on conversations are nice, sometimes it’s just not possible — after all, you both are living full lives (and possibly are in different time zones) which can make things difficult.
This is when taking the time to find little things to remind your partner that you love them becomes important.
Something as simple as a “goodnight, I hope you had a good day!” text, a picture that will make them smile, or an article you think they would enjoy can make a world of difference.
It makes my day when Josh sends me little things that remind me of him, because it shows me that he’s thinking of me throughout his day even when we can’t talk.
I also love sending cards to him. There’s something about a handwritten note that just can’t be accomplished through technology.
Have a plan
Logistically speaking, long distance relationships take a lot of planning:
- Planning when you’re able to talk
- Figuring out when you get to see each other next
- Making a plan for how to close the gap and ultimately be together
It can feel a bit daunting, but planning is the key to a successful long distance relationship.
Know when you’ll visit
One thing Josh and I do to make our relationship easier to to always have a rough idea of when we are going to see each other next. Whenever we see each other in person, we always make a point to know when we’ll see each other again.
While you may not be able to pinpoint specific dates, having a general idea of when you’ll be able to be together again makes saying goodbye a little bit easier.
Closing the Gap
Even bigger than knowing when you’ll see each other again is figuring out how to close the gap.
Closing the gap in a long distance relationship essentially means being able to eliminate the distance between you and live close together. While this sounds simple, it can actually be extremely overwhelming. Especially if you live in two different countries.
It’s not an easy conversation to have, and it’s even harder when you know the transition is a long way off. However, staying on top of it will make it feel like the goal is in sight and makes taking the steps to achieve it easier.
My partner and I have recently decided to do monthly check-ins to see how we’re progressing towards being able to live together. We both know it will be a long process (2-3 years), but reviewing our progress and making sure we both know the details of what needs to be done will make it much easier to manage.
Finally, make sure that you have a clear idea of how you’re going to accomplish being together. All the love in the world won’t matter if neither of you are willing to move to be together.
Whether it’s one partner moving to where the other lives or both moving to a completely new place, somebody has to be willing to make that change.
If neither person will move, the relationship won’t work. It sounds harsh, but it’s the reality of the situation.
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Take Care of Yourself
Last, but certainly not least, be sure to take care of yourself.
Figuring out how to make a long distance relationship work is hard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending all of your time worrying about your relationship and dwelling on how much you miss your partner and generally being a miserable human.
Trust me, I know. I spent the first several months of being long distance behaving this way.
But also trust me when I say that it adds unnecessary stress to your relationship. Once I finally got my butt into gear and stopped letting my misery take control of my life, I was much happier and my relationship became a lot better.
It’s okay to miss your partner, but remember that you’re both independent humans with lives to live. You can still get on with your life and be happy without neglecting your relationship.
Your partner wouldn’t want you to spend all of your time pining for them, they would want you to be happy.
Be sure to make plans with friends, have hobbies, and get involved in your community. It will make being apart a lot easier when you fill your time with things that you enjoy.
As a bonus, it gives you something to talk about as well!
That being said, you will still have hard days.
Even after a year and a half, I still have times where the distance gets to me. When this happens, I honor the feelings.
Sometimes that means spritzing my blanket with his cologne, eating some chocolate, and hunkering down on the couch for the evening. Other times it means distracting myself by spending time with family.
The important thing is to remember that the feelings are normal. After all, you are away from one of the most important people in your life.
Acknowledge your feelings and practice some self care. The sadness will pass.
While you never stop missing your partner and it’s always hard, you adjust and it becomes your new normal. I promise that you’ll make it through <3
I hope that these tips have offered some insight into how to make a long distance relationship work. While it is incredibly difficult, I do believe that my relationship is stronger as a result. I’m thankful that Josh and I have had the opportunity to grow both independently and as a couple. We appreciate the time we spend together more and never take each other for granted.
I truly believe that any relationship that goes through a period of long distance becomes better for it.