Relationships can be difficult to begin with, so what happens when the person you love is hundreds or thousands of miles away?
There is no easy way to be in a long-distance relationship (LDR). Although, if you value where the relationship is headed and care enough about your partner, it is entirely possible to make it through a temporary or long-term separation. There are many things a person can do to ensure their LDR will survive physical separation and continue to grow. Being in a LDR is only a matter of deciding if it is worth pursuing or if it is wiser for the couple to part ways and move on.
Before Being Separated
In this situation, it is imperative to settle the rules and terms of the relationship before the separation takes place. This is especially true in situations in which one partner may repeatedly be faced with opportunities for infidelity, such as students moving to a college campus or entertainers who attend many parties and social events. Problems can arise if one partner believes that the relationship is casual and open, while the other is making sacrifices and putting effort into a monogamous relationship. Engaging in open and honest communication about the separation and discussing what each partner wants from the relationship will help to reduce such confusions.
Important Traits For LDR Couples
Although the following traits are incredibly crucial in every relationship, being long-distance can amplify the importance of these characteristics.
Trust: For a LDR to survive, trust is essential for both partners. When one partner is not able to reach the other physically or verbally, a lack of trust could easily lead to doubt, suspicion, or paranoia. Because these feelings are not conducive to a satisfying and rewarding relationship, they may lead to a breakup.
Commitment: It is very difficult to put in the necessary effort to make a LDR work when one or both partners are not committed to each other. Because the couple may be separated for long periods of time, the temptation to cheat or be unfaithful may prove too inviting for partners who are not completely committed to each other.
Independence: It is helpful for both parties to be reasonably independent, because they will be without the other for long periods of time. Partners who have their own circle of friends and participate in enjoyable hobbies may fare better than couples that are solely dependent on each other for gratification and happiness. It is important to remember to keep busy and to keep living your life to the fullest—even when a big part of your heart might be somewhere else.
Organization: It is helpful for partners in LDRs to be well-organized so that they can schedule time for the other (communicating by phone, writing letters, exchanging email, etc.) into their agenda every day. Creating patterns in your relationship is a great way to show your partner that you are a reliable person so that they feel comfortable depending on you. Moreover, planning when you will visit each other next can build anticipation and excitement. Staying organized and planning ahead, whether it is at work or at school, is important for the maintenance and sustainability of a LDR.
Honesty: Along with trust, honesty is incredibly important in a LDR. When one partner doesn’t know what the other is up to, they might assume the worst and become frustrated. Being honest with each other and open about your feelings (even if they are negative feelings) can help create trust in your relationship.
Communication: Communicating with your partner is probably the most important element in successful LDRs. In LDRs, in order to keep the spark alive, both partners must realize the value of communication. Communicating with your partner can be as simple as sending a short text, talking on the phone, or telling each other your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. Oftentimes, small measures such as these can be reassuring, sweet, and thoughtful! Moreover, staying connected with each other throughout the day is a great way to keep the romance alive.
Tips to a Successful Long-Distance Relationship
1. Set up phone or video chatting dates, and take them seriously
Every relationship depends on communication, and LDRs in particular cannot exist without it. Schedule a routine time to call, and focus entirely on your partner during the conversation. Eliminate all other distractions, perhaps by putting yourself in a quiet room with the television and radio turned off. As this becomes routine, you will find yourself looking forward to your time together. There are many great ways to keep in touch via the Internet. Programs like Skype, ooVoo, Viber, or Google Hangout are easily downloadable on your phone or laptop, and they are oftentimes free. These programs allow you to video chat or call your partner no matter where you are—as long as you have access to the Internet.
2. Send texts and letters
Texting is a great way to communicate during the day if partners’ schedules are too hectic to call frequently or video chat. Sending a quick text in the morning or during the day can act as a small reminder that even though you cannot physically be with each other, you are still thinking of your partner. Although it is important to not let texting become so frequent that you stop calling or video chatting as well.
3. Surprise your partner with small, personal, and loving gifts
The key here is not to impress your partner with your purchasing power. Rather, the goal is to remind your partner of your true feelings toward them and the kind acts that these feelings inspire in you. Surprising your partner with gifts does not need to fall into the traditional realm of flowers, jewelry, or candy. Instead, photographs, mixed tapes of favorite songs, or handmade cards can be inexpensive and very thoughtful gifts. The point is that with small tokens of your love, you will deliver more than happy moments in the mail for your partner. You will also make sure that you are in their thoughts, just as they are in yours.
4. Send your partner a care package
Showing that you care and support your partner even though you cannot be there in person is crucial in LDRs. Sending care packages that are thoughtful, handmade, or store-bought can be an exciting gift to receive! Especially when you know that your partner is going through a difficult period of time because of work, school, etc., sending them a gift basket can help brighten their day. To really personalize your care package, consider their obstacles. Are they sick? Do they have finals coming up? Are they always running out of food? Creating a personalized gift package for them will show them just how much you know them and care for their needs.
5. Celebrate missed holidays
When you are able to reunite, celebrate major holidays that you have missed. For example, if you missed Christmas, plan a night where you watch Christmas movies and decorate a Christmas tree. Or if you have missed Valentine’s Day, cooking dinner together and having a fun picnic at the beach could also be enjoyable.
6. Plan special trips and getaways
Since you probably haven’t seen your partner in a while, planning a special trip to somewhere new can be memorable and an exciting way to spend your time together. Even if your getaway vacation just involves going to a nice hotel in the city or a small cottage in a nearby rural area, by going somewhere new you are introducing novelty into your relationship which can help you bond more through shared experience and increase satisfaction during sex.
The Upside of Long-Distance Relationships
"We live in a society where people look at separation as a threat to a relationship. But that's not true at all. It's a necessary part of any healthy bond." This quote, from Allen Berger PhD, author of Love Secrets Revealed, gives a good sense of the how being temporarily separated in a relationship can sometimes be a good thing. 1
Miles of separation from a loved one may allow partners to come to know each other in ways that close proximity could stifle. Here are some of the positive aspects of LDRs:
- Proximity can lead one or both partners to take talking with the other for granted, while members of LDRs usually savor and happily anticipate hearing the sound of their partner's voice.
- Dating with distance gives both partners time and space. A LDR may be the perfect arrangement for someone who deeply values independence and autonomy but also desires intimacy with another.
- LDRs encourage a slower development of the relationship. This allows for introspection and an honest assessment of feelings for a partner as time goes on.
- LDRs also tend to inspire more creativity. Partners may meet at adventurous halfway points, indulge in romantic letter writing, learn interesting things about each other's cities and friends, and plan exciting outings while they are together.
Getting Time Together
When a long-distance couple has the time, money, or availability to see each other, there are many ways to make it a memorable and special time. It is important that couples focus on each other, so they should try to avoid bringing work home or watching TV. Some may even find it helpful to turn off their cell phones and limiting the time spend on laptops or other gadgets that may distract from their partner. Giving backrubs, taking a scented bubble bath, reading aloud to each other, cooking a romantic meal, or cuddling together are intimate, inexpensive ways to bond while together.
1. Berger, Allen. Love secrets revealed: What happy couples know about having great sex, deep intimacy and a lasting connection. Health Communications, Inc., 2006.
Last Updated March 13, 2014