It’s no secret that maintaining a relationship takes hard work and dedication from both parties. But, when a couple lives hundreds or thousands of miles apart, keeping a romance going becomes even more difficult. According to the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships (who knew such a thing existed?!), more than two million couples in the United States are in LDRs—including three percent of the country’s married couples. While long-distance relationships can be challenging, here are five tips that will ensure yours is as healthy and successful as possible.
Since you don’t have the benefit of in-person time together, daily communication is a must. Whether you prefer text messages, IMs, emails, telephone calls, or video chatting, keeping in touch is the most important thing you can do in a long-distance relationship. There are even smartphone apps that allow long-distance couples to share photos, videos, send voice messages, and more. And don’t forget good old snail mail! A cute handwritten letter or small unexpected gift goes a long way to making your LD partner feel loved and appreciated. Just be sure to agree on what forms of communication you’ll use most. If you hate phone calls and your partner prefers to chat that way, you may set yourself up for disagreements if you don’t work it out ahead of time.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
In addition to keeping in touch, be sure to foster an open and honest dialogue with your partner. It’s tempting not to bring up things that are bothering you to avoid confrontation—especially in a LDR, when you really want to enjoy every bit of time you have with each other (online or IRL). However, it’s especially important for long-distance couples to discuss any issues they may have. It’s easy to misinterpret an email or text or get annoyed if you feel your needs aren’t being met. Working on keeping the lines of communication open is a must in order to keep your long-distance relationship in good shape. It’s better to discuss a small problem now than to let it turn into a big issue down the line.
Know when you’ll see each other next
Before the end of a visit, be sure you know when one of you will be visiting the other next. If you have a definite end to the distance already on the calendar, even if it’s just going to be a weekend together, the time apart will be easier to deal with. It’s also important to have a general sense for when the long-distance phase of your relationship will come to an end. An indefinite LDR is unsustainable for most couples, so having a plan for eventually moving to common ground is helpful.
Make time to be Boring
Reuniting after time apart can make relationships feel honeymoon- a lot of the time, especially if you’re visiting on weekends. If your times together feel more like mini-vacations than real life, it’s hard to know if your relationship would work under ordinary circumstances. Be sure to plan some downtime during each visit so you can get a better sense of how you function as a couple under more typical day-to-day conditions. It’ll help you realize whether or not the relationship will be worth the effort in the long run.
Trust each other
There are moments of jealousy and insecurity in even the most secure relationships. However, every perceived slight or twinge of envy will be magnified in a long-distance relationship. The last things you want to do while you’re apart is spend your time obsessively checking his Facebook page or fretting about what he’s doing if he doesn’t respond to your texts quickly enough. If you don’t trust your partner or know you have jealous tendencies, you might want to reconsider if a LDR is really right for you.