Getting ready to enter a long-distance relationship? Make sure you’re remembering these 17 tips first.
1. See it as an opportunity.
Truly, there isn’t much that challenges a relationship quite as much as going long-distance. If you look at this challenge as a test of your love, it might even make you a bit anxious. But when you understand that it’s an opportunity to do your own thing without being selfish, you’ll have a much easier time coping with the distance.
2. Avoid talking too much.
Many people think that you need to compensate for the distance by talking more than you would if you lived in the same town. While this almost makes sense, in theory, it’ll most likely make everything worse. Focus on the quality of your communication, rather than the frequency, and things will go much more smoothly.
3. Keep each other in the loop.
While you don’t want to spend every waking moment blowing up your partner’s phone, you do need to keep each other abreast of what’s going on in your lives. It’s a nice idea to update her about your family, if you’re close with them (and especially if she’s close with them), or to let her know about the promotion you’re trying for at work. And, when in doubt, a picture is worth a thousand words.
4. Set some ground rules as early as possible.
Ground rules are important to define and revise in any relationship, but in a long-distance relationship they’re absolutely essential. You’ll need to manage your expectations together, so that neither of you feels trapped or abandoned. You’ll need to clarify whether you’ll stay exclusive, or just how far you’re committed across the distance. There’s no single answer that works for everyone, but honesty is always a great place to start.
5. Avoid casting any doubt or insecurity.
If there’s something on your agenda that you know your partner wouldn’t appreciate, you’ve got two options: Either don’t do the thing, or talk to your partner about it beforehand so you can calm any concerns she may have. Telling her after the fact will only breed doubt. When you recognize a tricky situation for what it is, you can avoid the relationship traps that might lay ahead.
6. Learn each other’s schedules and routines.
Especially if you live in different time zones. It’s helpful to know when your messages are going to be a welcome distraction, and when they’re pulling her away from something important. By understanding each other’s schedules, you’re not only minimizing the stress you add to each other’s lives, but you’re also maximizing the support you can give. She’s got a big test or a job interview coming up? Help her study or wish her luck!
7. Stay positive, as much as possible.
Waiting can be painful, but a bad attitude can turn it into an excruciating nightmare. Remember the good times you’ve had in the past, and look forward to the good times that are yet to come. It won’t be like this forever, so learn to be grateful for the way things are now. I recommend keeping a gratitude journal, but then again, I recommend keeping a journal for everything, so what do I know?
8. Loan her something that represents you.
Humans, in general, tend to assign arbitrary values to things based on who they came from. My partner, for example, won’t throw away the shirts she’s had since junior high, because her grandma bought them for her. A small memento for your partner to think of you will be cherished the entire time you’re apart. Ask for one in return, too – these sentimental tokens can be traded back once you’re reunited for good.
9. Cultivate pet names and inside jokes.
It’s rough to keep bonding over a long distance, but with cutesy pet names and inside jokes, you can grow closer just by sharing the little things that no one else understands. Was she full of static electricity on your last road trip together? No one else needs to know why you call her “Sparky” – only you. Any other inside jokes are great, too, because it’s a shared memory that’ll bring a smile to your face every time.
10. Get intimate over the phone.
Talking dirty can be an uncomfortable activity, but it’s been shown to be connected to better sex – so it’s a good idea to get comfortable with it. Dirty talking lets you safely explore your sexual fantasies, and it helps open the discussion for how you’ll get busy when you get back together. (Plus, doing the deed yourself can get a little boring after a while – might as well call her so she can help!)
11. Nurture your social circle.
Long-distance partners have the ultimate luxury: A partner who is (metaphorically) standing by their side, and the ability to spend time with all of the people their partner doesn’t particularly care for, without someone ending up bored or annoyed. It’s a win-win! Take advantage of this time to grow your personal network, meet new people, and catch up with your family.
12. Savor your alone time, too.
One of the reasons introverts make such great long-distance partners is because they already know how to harness their alone time for their maximum potential. LDR’s leave room for each partner to learn and grow as a person. You can pursue your own hobbies, while reveling in the fact that you’re not just dragging someone else along for the ride. You’re each on your own journey – you’re just sharing notes until your paths cross again.
13. Send her old-fashioned snail mail.
Let’s face it: Everyone loves mail that isn’t a bill or an advertisement. When you take the time to send your partner a hand-written letter or a hand-made gift, you’re telling her that she’s worth the extra time it takes. You could have just sent a text, but instead you sent a teddybear, flowers, or a musical card – she’ll be ecstatic! You even have the element of surprise working in your favor – she won’t even see it coming.
14. Discover shared hobbies and interests.
With all the time you’re spending apart, it’s important to find some common ground. Shared interests and hobbies help bridge the divide by giving you something to talk about. Maybe it’s a book you’re both reading, similar classes you’re taking, or a collection you’re adding to separately. Either way, you’ll automatically be reminded of her every time you participate in that activity, and she’ll always feel just a little bit closer.
15. Visit each other whenever you reasonably can.
No relationship can survive purely within your imagination – you need to actually see each other when you can. That doesn’t have to be every week, or even every month, but it needs to happen on a schedule that works well for you and your budget. Once you do get that time together, make the most of it – participate in some of those shared hobbies, catch a good movie, and snuggle up together in silence. It really is the little things.
16. Do things together, even when you’re apart.
Just because you’re separated by however many cities, countries, or time zones, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have “date nights.” Video chats work well for this purpose, or you can share a walk over a phone call. No matter what you’re into, make sure you’re carving out some time to do something with her that counts as a date. It seems complicated in theory, but once you get started, it’s much easier than you think.
17. Have an endgame in mind.
Finally, your long-distance relationship can’t stay long-distance forever – at some point in time, you’ll want a different situation figured out. Make plans for your future together, and make sure you’re setting yourself up for happiness. Setting a deadline might even make the time pass quicker, too – try it and see!