More people are meeting online through Tinder, OkCupid, Zoosk, and other apps, as well as on social media. As a result, many couples who live in different states or countries begin their relationships online.
Long-distance relationships aren’t relegated to couples who’ve just met. Many established couples go through a long-distance phase in their relationship due to travel, job, or family issues.
What to Expect from a Long Distance Relationship
It’s hard to make a long-distance relationship work. Your friends and family may caution you against this type of relationship, and tell you that it will never work. Friends may tell you to forget about anyone who’s not in the same city or even the same neighborhood and find somebody else.
Long-distance relationships are never easy, but if you care for your partner, you can make it work. You’ll go through many lonely times, and so will your S.O. However, if you’re both caring and committed, you can make it for the long haul.
You may be unsure of what to do or say to keep your long-distance relationship loving and upbeat until you and your partner meet in person (or are reunited).
Think of all the things you’d do in a normal, same-city relationship when you’re at work, running errands, or otherwise away from each other. You’d call, text, or post pictures on Instagram to keep in touch.
In a long-distance relationship,(abbreviated sometimes as LDR), you’ll need to think of sweet, personalized gestures you can impart through texts, emails, phone calls, and video calls since you won’t see your guy (or girl) except on occasional in-person visits.
Learn how to use all the digital tools at your disposal-and old-school ones like snail-mail – to express your love and desire for your partner.
How to Make the Most of Your “LDR”
Anyone can learn how to save a long-distance relationship by being truthful, observant, and staying in contact with your beloved any way you can. Here are several ways you can ensure your long-distance relationship works.
Don’t Be Clingy
Being too possessive is a sure way to scare your Significant Other away, whether you’re in the same house or another continent. Some people think you should overcompensate for living or working in another state or country by contacting your partner more often.
Too many texts, emails, or social media posts may irritate your guy – it doesn’t matter where he’s living.
Communicate with your partner regularly, but don’t overdo it. Resist the urge to send a text an hour after a long phone call. Playfully tease your partner, or give him a loving, supportive phone call at the right time. Don’t let your love letters turn into spam.
If you’re naturally jealous, no matter who you’re dating, a long-distance relationship may not be for you. You need to trust your partner for any relationship to work, particularly a long-distance one. Texting or calling someone constantly to check up on them is off-putting, whether it’s a short or long-distance relationship, so don’t do it.
Don’t ruin a good relationship with unwarranted jealousy. If you’ve been cheated on or betrayed by a partner in the past, that doesn’t mean every new love interest you meet will act the same way. Going into a relationship with a negative attitude will doom it from the start. Have an open mind.
If your partner has given you a valid reason for being suspicious, you should rethink the relationship. Do you really want to spend your time corresponding long-distance with someone you mistrust? Your time would be better spent looking for a new partner you can trust.
Make the Best of a Less Than Perfect Situation
Use this long-distance relationship as an opportunity to bond and strengthen your love. If you can still love and respect each other when you’re thousands of miles apart, you can surely withstand any problems you have when you’re closer together.
In today’s busy world, even married couples may not spend a lot of time with each other. Email, texts, Skype video sessions, and social media are the primary mode of communication, even for couples who live together. Employ every method you can to contact your beloved, and have fun with it.
Use this long-distance relationship as a chance to test your love. You may even find that the obstacles caused by the distance between you – time zone differences, lack of physical contact, etc. – make you want to work harder at the relationship (Without being overzealous, of course).
Set Rules and Expectations
Before you (or your partner) leave for an out-of-town job, talk about setting ground rules for the relationship. “Winging it” is hard for any relationship. You need to put a certain amount of thought and effort into a long-distance relationship to prevent surprises.
Discuss what each of you expect from the relationship. How often will you text and correspond? How will you keep in touch by social media – do you want to go public with your relationship, or keep it private?
You need to decide if it’s okay to date other people. If you’re separated for a few months, it may be difficult to remain committed and not see other people, but some couples can do it. It’s harder to abstain from dating if the separation is a year or more.
Awkward as it is to discuss dating others, you must have this conversation to avoid jealousy and misunderstandings. If you and your Significant Other do decide to date other people, that doesn’t mean your relationship won’t survive. You may end up not dating because no one seems as interesting or attractive as your Significant Other.
If you agree to date others, that means you’re realistic about the physical separation and the need for companionship between in-person visits. Having a discussion with your partner about ground rules will make you both feel better about the relationship and increase trust.
Wish each other “Good Morning” with a wake-up call or text. Talk or message each other at night to review the day’s activities. Send audio or video clips to cheer up your partner throughout the day.
Keep in touch using Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp, or other messaging or social media services. You can vary your method to keep things interesting. Send sexy messages to keep the physical fires burning. Send teasing texts as well as sexy videos or photos. As always, be sure any sexy images are kept private.
Tell Your Partner about Any Potentially Bothersome Situations
If you plan a night on the town with your friends, and may be drinking or staying out till the wee hours, let your Significant Other know, so he doesn’t worry. Cancel or amend your plans if your partner voices objections.
Instead of going out drinking, you can go to a dinner and movie with your friends, for example, or you could leave the club or bar earlier, and call your partner when you get home. You can have fun and socialize without engaging in risky behavior that can harm your relationship.
Don’t assume you can hide this type of behavior from your partner. You may get home late and no answer a phone call or text, and this will worry your partner or make him suspicious. Ask yourself what’s more important-preserving your long-distance relationship or having an alcohol-fueled night out, (or even an unintended fling).
Do Things Together Virtually
You can still do things together even though you’re not in the same room. Watch a music video or documentary on YouTube together or play Scrabble, dominos, or other online games. Many online games are free, so you can play as long as you want.
Use Skype to sing your favorite songs or discuss a T.V. show or movie you like. You can even record your own podcast and post it online.
Explore a park or the beach while video-calling your partner. You can video-call from your apartment to conduct a tour of your decorating project, or even work on an art project as your partner watches and comments.
Browse the internet together, and buy presents for each other on Amazon, eBay, or other sites. You don’t need to buy big-ticket items, just inexpensive but fun gifts like paperback books or vintage clothes.
Have a Full Life with Friends and Family
Your world shouldn’t revolve around your partner. Live a life filled with socializing and fun. Spend time with family, friends, and explores your surroundings on your own. Take classes and enjoy your hobbies. The more interesting your life is, the happier you’ll be – and the more you’ll have to share with your significant other.
Likewise, your partner should have a full life outside of your relationship to share with you. The most successful relationships and marriages consist of people who share lots of interests, but also have completely independent lives outside of their partners.
Share Similar Interests
Choose some T.V. shows and movies to watch, and then discuss them during a phone call or messenger chat. Read some of the same books, or cheer for the same sports teams. Balance your outside interests and similar interests for a more fulfilling relationship.
Have Relationship Goals
We’ve already talked about how to save a long-distance relationship even before it starts, by being clear about expectations. However, it helps to set long-term goals and address how long the separation will last and how it will affect the chance of living together or marriage.
A long-distance relationship can’t last forever. Eventually, you’ll need to live in the same place to have a stable, long-term relationship. Ask each other the following questions:
- How long will this separation last?
- What do we want for the future?
- Which one of us needs to move if we want to continue the relationship?
Figure out a timeline for when the relationship should turn from long-distance to face-to-face. Draw up a plan with step-by-step goals for the completion of the move, including any interim visits that you or your partner will need to make to transition for long-distance to living together (or at least living in the same city).
Be Honest with Each Other
Let your partner know when you’re feeling lonely, depressed or angry about the separation. If you don’t discuss your feelings, they’ll come out in unintended ways and hurt the relationship. Tackle problems as soon as they occur, rather than wait and hope they go away on their own. Problems usually get worse if you ignore them.
In a real relationship, partners solve problems before they get out of hand, instead of hiding them because they’re afraid of confronting the other person with unpleasant news.
Memorize Each Other’s Schedules
Know each other’s schedule, so you’ll send texts and make phone calls when your partner is free. Your partner’s schedule may fluctuate from week to week, so keep in touch regularly and note any changes. You don’t want to disturb a business meeting, college exam, or doctor’s appointment with a chatty text.
Being aware of each other’s schedule is especially important if your partner is working overseas or traveling regularly for business.
Check out Your Partner’s Social Media
Read each other’s social media posts, and tweet and comment often. Share photos and videos on each other’s walls. You can set certain posts so that just your partner (and/or close friends) sees them; you don’t need to set all posts to the public.
Even if you set all your social media posts to private or friends only, don’t feel compelled to post too much or post flashy photos. Be natural; show your partner what you’re doing at a given moment. Your partner should send similar, cozy natural photos.
Send Letters and Gifts by Snail Mail
Use snail-mail or FedEx to send your Significant Other handwritten letters, cards, or small gifts. Send a small bottle of cologne, a drawing you’ve done, a coffee mug, or something personal to brighten your partner’s day.
You may even send a memento from your first date, like a placard you saved from the restaurant you visited. Small mementos help you and your partner relive memories even when you are separated physically.
Use Messaging Apps
Texting is the easiest and most frequently used form of long-distance communication. You may have trouble hearing a phone call if you’re in a crowded place.
Use stickers, emoticons, photos and gifs, even video attachments in your texts. There are different sticker themes you can use featuring Marvel characters, sports team logos, and related themes to personalize your texts to your partner’s interests.
Be Cheerful and Positive
Stay upbeat, even when one or both of you are going through bad patches at work or school. Your partner may want to come home sooner and complain about a job incident. You may have a cold and wish your S.O. was there to comfort you in person.
No matter what you feel or what you’re going through in your life outside of the relationship, maintain a positive attitude when you get on the phone or send a text. Think about how much you love your partner and how you can’t wait to get back together in person. Be grateful you have someone to love, even if they aren’t sitting next to you.
Talk About Each Other’s Co-Workers, Family, and Friends
You should talk about your friends, family, and co-workers with your partner like you would if you were sitting at the dinner table talking about your day.
Tell your partner funny stories about playing softball with your friends, or giving a successful presentation at work. Your colorful stories will enhance your relationship, and make both of you want to get together in person to share more stories – and act out a few of your own.
Say things like, “I’m having a good time, but it would be perfect if you were here with me. I want to have you by my side again.” when talking about your social life or work life.
Visit Each Other in Person
An in-person visit shouldn’t be the only way to save a long-distance relationship, but merely the most important. You’ll finally get to hold, kiss, and touch your Significant Other after months (or even a year) of virtual contact.
You want to look your best during this reunion, but there’s no need to dress like you’re going to a Hollywood premiere. Dress like you would for a special romantic evening at home. You can bring a small gift, but avoid anything splashy or expensive.
Use Video Calls and Couples Apps Regularly
While texts, social media, and phone calls are the easiest ways to keep in touch, Facetime, Skype, and other video calling apps give you a chance to see your partner and their surroundings.
Experiment with a few specialized apps and determine which one works best for you. There are several highly-regarded apps made just for couples.
Avocado is a free app that clears messages after you’ve read them like Snapchat. Simply Us lets you coordinate communication with a shared calendar, and Couple offers “shared experiences,” including LiveSketch. So you can draw with your partner in real-time.
Fix Time Zone Problems
Communication and scheduling problems are more complicated if you live in a different time zone than your partner. A one or two hour difference may not cause as many slip-ups and miscommunication as three hours or more. If you live in Los Angeles and your partner lives in New York, your workday is starting when your partner is going to lunch.
We all have busy lives, so it’s hard to keep track of time zone changes and determine the best calling and texting schedule. Create a schedule so you can message or talk to your partner in real-time.
Of course, you can always send voicemails, emails, and texts any time of day that can be answered later, but you’ll miss out on the spontaneity that comes with direct communication. Schedule weekly video calls or messaging app sessions on the weekends, or any time that’s convenient for both of you.
Keeping a schedule will help you avoid worrying about when you’ll talk to your partner. If one of you has to cancel, you can wait until the next scheduled time or figure out a new time to contact each other before your usual talk/message time.
Determine when you’ll have the time and energy to correspond with your loved one. Don’t try to call right after a busy day at work when you can’t give full attention to your partner.
If you do call when you’re tired, use a video app so your partner can see proof that you’re just home from work and exhausted. Doing this gives your partner a glimpse into your day-to-day life.
Being perky most of the time lets your partner know you still care, but you need to reveal the daily annoyances of life occasionally.
You’ll need to deal with each other’s moods when you get together in person permanently. An occasional video call that shows your everyday side is a good way to gauge how your partner will deal with real-life, in-person situations again.
Can You Really Make a Long Distance Relationship Work?
Some people aren’t cut out for a long-distance relationship, even if they really love the other person. It’s harder to feel connected if you don’t see your partner face-to-face regularly.
There are several factors that contribute to the success or failure of a long-distance relationship. They include:
- Open lines of communication
- Trust between partners
- Similar interests
- A life outside of the relationship
- Flirting and maintaining physical attraction
How long you’re apart has a lot to do with the success rate of long-distance relationships. Eventually, you’ll need to move in together to maintain the relationship. The amount of time a couple can spend apart comfortably varies from couple to couple.
Challenges in a long-distance relationship include agreeing on which app or mode of communication to use, time zone differences, lack of physical intimacy, loneliness, and worrying that your partner will meet someone else.
Once you’ve learned how to save a long-distance relationship, you can deal with any challenges successfully. Mutual interests, having a plan, friendship, and respect-along with physical attraction – are the cornerstones of any relationship.
Whether you’re starting a relationship after meeting online, or experiencing a separation due to work or family after living together, you can make your long-distance partnership work with a bit of creativity and planning.