If you are currently, or have ever been in a relationship, you would know how tough it is. Now, take that relationship and factor in distance. I have been in a long distance relationship for the past three and a half years. When I think back to when my significant other was moving overseas for school, I remember asking for long distance relationship advice from others and getting told that it was many things: tough, exhausting, rewarding, and do-able “only for some”.
Relationships are different for everyone, and each person will deal with situations such as long distance in their own way. However, there are some things that you can consciously make an effort to do to make your long distance relationship work. It is not easy, but if you are in it for the long run, these tips and tricks will help you make your long distance relationship work.
Clearing the Air
Before you commit to maintaining a long distance relationship, take the time to sit down and talk with your significant other to see where you stand. Make sure that both of you are clear on what type of relationship that you have. Are you:
- Seeing one another
- Boyfriend and girlfriend
- In an open relationship
This can be a tough conversation to have, but it will help clear the air and prevent any misunderstandings down the road during the long distance. Ask questions such as: “What do you want out of this relationship?” or, “Are you willing to move closer if it becomes more serious?” We know that things can change down the road, but knowing what the other person is thinking of and wants upfront will help both of you work together to develop the type of relationship that you are looking to achieve.
How to Make Long Distance Work
Once you are in a long distance relationship, here are some things that you can do to make things more manageable. These might require some lifestyle and habit changes, but if you are in it to win it, then you will be glad you did!
Do things together: This might seem impossible because you are obviously so far apart, but because technology is so wonderful and advanced these days, there are plenty of things you can do together aside from spending time talking on the phone. Even if you are not in constant contact while doing these things, at least you will still be able to share your experiences afterwards. For instance, you can:
- Attempt to cook the same meal and share pictures afterwards of the process.
- Take the same online class.
- Learn a new language together and practice speaking with each other.
- Create an online journal or scrapbook and have one person contribute once a week, and alternate.
- Have a calendar that you both share so you know what one another is doing.
- Set workout goals together and keep each other motivated.
- Read the same book or watch the same television shows and discuss them afterwards.
Communicate Daily: It is important to keep in contact with each other once or twice a day to maintain a personal and emotional connection. Check in on each other, ask for advice, share work or school stories, and discuss successes and failures that you are experiencing. Of course, talking on the phone and Skype would be ideal, but you can also use email, instant messages, or texts to keep connected. If you do use texts or email, be sure to be as detailed and personal as possible with your words.
Write Letters: It may seem like no one does this anymore, but sending snail mail is a great way to brighten your significant other’s day in a traditional and quality way.
Do other things: In the beginning, it might be tempting to just sit around and wait for times when you can talk or share with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but it is just as important to make time for yourself as well. Take the time that you have by yourself to create connections with others, see friends, work on a degree, read, or watch movies that you normally would not watch with your partner.
Do similar things, apart: If there are things that both of you enjoy doing—do them! Even though you are doing it apart, you can still spend time talking and discussing it afterwards. For instance, if you enjoy taking nature walks, take a walk while talking on the phone and discuss the different types of plants, animals, and feelings that you get. By exploring your senses together, you will still be able to bond.
Discuss Goals: As individuals, each of you is going to have your own set of goals that you want to accomplish. Be open to discussing these goals and finding motivation in each other to accomplish them. Your goals could be as simple as learning how to cook a new recipe, to as complicated as finishing a master’s degree.
Talk about the future: This might be a touchy subject depending on how far along you are in your relationship, but there will come a time when it is appropriate to talk about your future plans with each other. You will need to discuss things such as, if you want to eventually live together and how you are going to be able to be in a closer proximity. Here are some things to question:
- When will it be appropriate for you to move? Who is going to be doing the moving?
- What type of finances will you need to have before or after you move? Are you going to have to be saving up for other things as well? Create a budget together to make everything seem more possible.
Put action in your plans: Once your plans for the future are in place, you can begin tackling these plans and making them into realities.
Do not try to control: There are plenty of things that you should not do in a long distance relationship as well, and one of them is to try the control the other person. It may be tempting, but establishing and maintaining trust in a long distance relationship can be a determining factor on whether or not the relationship will work. When trying to establish trust, try to remember these things:
- Do not interrogate or over-ask questions with your partner whenever they want to do something or go out with a friend.
- Do not call them constantly when you know they are out.
- Always be upfront about things that might be bothering you. Even if they seem a little unreasonable, it is better to get them out in the open than to let feelings stew.
- Know that your partner is going to have a social life no matter where they are. Humans are naturally social people!
It Can Be Worth It
One phrase that helped me along during my long distance relationship was that, “Good things come to those who wait.” However, remember not simply “wait”, but put in the effort with some of the suggested practices and lifestyle tips that we outlined in this article. Keep on trucking, because in the end it will be all worth it! There are plenty of other students dealing with long distance as well, so enroll in an online course in how to maintain a successful relationship, and start learning some of the secrets on how to make a relationship work.