I was in a long distance relationship for years. In fact, my wife today was that long-distance partner, so I made it work.
In this article, I’m sharing the best way to make your long-distance relationship work – all the important things as well as how to deal with hard times.
Let’s do this.
Communicate on a daily basis
Today we have such an array of tools for instant communication that the really is no excuse to fail at this.
Make video chat part of your daily routine. Ignoring this tool will stop you from building visual intimacy and will actually hurt your relationship in many cases.
Using only phone calls and text messages robs you of communicating through body language and visual cues, which is how we convey the bulk of our feelings.
Any form of communication is a good thing, but video is the best thing you can use to enhance the emotional connection between you and your long distance partner.
You could use social media if you both feel comfortable doing so, but I recommend excluding other people and using direct means, such as video, voice, and text for more effective communication.
There’s nothing wrong with involving a group of friends (for example, being part of a social app group) but you need a way to isolate you and your partner into your own private bubble in order to spend the type of quality time that creates personal memories.
After all, your partner is not just your best friend – she’s actually somebody you’re intimate with, and that requires at the very least a way to talk privately.
Your aim should be to create positive feelings through good communication by committing to a daily routine in a healthy way. By that, I mean a routine you are both happy to undertake.
This is the way to bridge the distance between you and a way to create shared experiences.
If this is your first time doing this kind of thing and you’re wondering what you can talk about, keep it simple and talk about everyday experiences. Once you get started, there will be no stopping you.
Establish a routine
Establishing a routine is important. You’re both apart – maybe even in different time zones – and you both have different routines in your everyday life. The key here is to see where your activities overlap, so you can work out a daily schedule.
For example, you both need to get out of bed in the morning and get ready for the day ahead. This is a perfect overlap. Make time for a daily call at breakfast to say good morning and talk about the day ahead.
You don’t need to spend a long time on this first call – you’re both busy and you don’t want to create a sense of dread every morning by never getting off the phone.
As a rule of thumb, the only thing you should talk about after exchanging pleasantries is the day ahead. All the other stuff you’re dying to talk about can wait for later in the day.
It’s this discipline when it comes to talking about the right things at the right times that makes for a healthy relationship between long distance partners, because it’s about respecting each other’s time.
If you decide to make your morning call during breakfast then a video call is in order. Otherwise, if you’re both on the move, a voice call is more appropriate.
Keep in mind that if your call is before breakfast and your partner hasn’t had time to get out of their morning face, a video call may not be appropriate.
Don’t plan the next time you’ll call during a call. Establish the schedule via text but don’t be too rigorous about it. While the breakfast call can be made at a specific time, other calls during the day may not be so easy to keep on schedule. Things happen, so be cool with it.
The goal is to communicate at various times of the day using different means, and to do this daily. These conversations soon build up into quality time.
Last but not least, when it comes to time, make sure you factor in alone time. Your partner is a human (I hope) and doesn’t want to spend all day long chatting to you in a way that feels like reporting to you. And, let’s face it, neither do you. Always be ready and willing to accept that sometimes a call is not convenient. When this happens, stay cool and reschedule.
Deal with trust issues
When it comes to relationships, trust is one of the biggest factors, and it’s often a make or break one.
Long distance love is made very difficult when trust issues arise.
I don’t have a statistic on this, but I’m willing to bet the happiest couples are those that see their partner as their best friend. That’s a great way to build a successful relationship.
If lack of trust does creep into your relationship, then you have to face up to it and understand why that lack of trust exists.
Most likely, it’s insecurity. That’s a whole other issue in and of itself and I can tell you that the only cure is to arm yourself with knowledge and mature. Unfortunately, that’s not an overnight process (especially the maturing bit).
If you suspect that insecurity is the root of the trust issues, and you really care about making this long distance relationship work, then either sit down with your partner (or schedule a video call) and have a frank conversation.
If that doesn’t work, consider professional help. A few sessions with a psychiatrist could really help you understand and overcome trust issues.
Establish ground rules
When it comes to long distance relationships, the question of should we be in an open relationship often comes up. I’ve been there myself and me and my partner had to discuss this awkward subject.
Long distance will create a lack of physical intimacy and that can bring the question of sex to the forefront.
Either of you may start to talk about biological needs and other reasons why you should be in an open relationship, or the subject may be broached out of concern, because you don’t want to be in an open relationship and you’re making sure you both agree on this.
If you both decide that seeing other people is fine, then good luck with that. If, on the other hand, you decide to be exclusive, then the first thing you need to establish are some ground rules.
It can be tempting to people in long distance relationships who spend long periods of time apart to get into the online game of dating when they hit a rough patch. Sexual tension and an un happy relationship is not a good mix.
Flirting with other people or ‘just window shopping’ is not conducive to a good relationship in the long run, so avoid those things at all costs.
Instead, when you hit hard times, make sure you have open communication. Make no mistake, this is a big deal. A lot of people breakup after a bad thing has happened, but usually it was little things that started to happen, slowly building up to a big bad thing.
The fact that you’re both in different places doesn’t make your relationship less real or serious, so don’t be cool with an open relationship based on the fact that you’re in different locations if you wouldn’t be cool with it otherwise.
I can tell you from experience that life, when you’re in a long distance relationship, is different. While your friends are getting together with their partners and inviting you out, you’re stuck at home chatting over video and texting updates.
Nobody said it was easy. You will certainly miss out on the small things in life, and that can get you down. I’m talking about little things like going shopping together or sitting down side by side on the sofa to enjoy a movie.
However, keep in mind that everybody has highs and lows. The flip side of being in a long distance relationship is that you get plenty of alone time, if that’s something you like, and your highs are often more enjoyable than that of others.
Each time you and your partner get together you experience a high. If you get together several times a year, that’s a good amount of highs to experience. The trick is to remind yourself that you need the lows to enjoy the highs. In other words, that the wait was worth it.
It’s a good idea then not to get caught up in the everyday detail of other people’s lives because they’re not in long distance relationships so you can’t compare your life to theirs.
A great way to ride out the lows is to plan ahead on paper, a calendar or a spreadsheet, you and your partner’s future get togethers. This enables you to be constantly reminded and can get you excited during the lows.
You’ll be like that work colleague who can’t stop talking about their holiday weeks before they actually go.
Have common goals
If you really want to stack the odds in your favour of building a successful long-distance relationship, then have a common goal. Why are you in this relationship? What’s the long-term plan?
Make future plans and see where important areas of your life overlap with your partner’s.
If you realise you were just going with the flow, then you may need to sit down and reconsider your relationship or adjust your goals. As I said, long distance relationships are hard work and if you’re getting stressed about it, then you need to ask yourself what is it all for.
If you do both have common goals and you can hatch a plan based on your goals, that will do wonders to create a stronger bond between you and fill you with purpose and direction.
Spend as much time as need be talking about your real life goals and visit them on a regular basis to keep the positive energy going.
There are plenty of creative ways to maintain a long distance romantic relationship. Communication is key and there are as many new ways of staying in touch these days as there are tools to do so.
Use video primarily whenever and wherever you can as this enables you to build a visual connection. The good news is there are plenty of free apps around that let you video chat so you can be out and about with your mobile phone sharing daily experiences visually to make you feel involved in each other’s lives at a more intimate level.
There may be a few extra things needed to make a long distance relationship work, but it can be worth it. The main problems are trust issues which can be agitated by the distance and lack of intimacy.
There will be rough patches, of course, but you need to be able to work things out or find a better way for how things work in your particular situation.
Open communication is key to stay afloat. Discuss things frankly and aim to get your partner’s point of view on things, not just positive feedback. It’s important to let the other person feel a part of the process. After all, they are the other half.