9 Tips for Making a Long Distance Relationship Work

Some people scoff at long distance relationships, claiming there’s no way they will ever work out.

My own marriage, however, is proof that they can. My husband and I met on a work trip, and dated long-distance for almost a year. Even now, we are often apart four days a week while he travels for his job. It wasn’t easy then, and it still isn’t now – but it is most certainly worth it. When you’ve met the right person for you, it seems silly to let external factors like geography end the relationship.

Of course long-distance is not for everyone. However, it could be just the right move for you and your partner. If you are considering a long distance relationship, I wish you the best of luck.

Here are nine tips that can help you make this non-traditional model work:

1. Do your own thing.

Don’t stop living your life just because your partner can’t be there. Take this time to develop your own hobbies, interests, projects, and relationships. Connect with loved ones. Learn to sculpt. Train for a marathon. Develop your authentic self. Both of you will benefit from this.

2. Prioritize honesty.

The same warning signs we would easily pick up on in person – uncertainty, jealousy, insecurity – might go right over our heads with more distance. For this reason, it is important to communicate more openly than you might do naturally. Addressing these problems early on can keep them from spiraling out of control.

3. Establish rituals.

Send a funny “good morning” message when you wake up, or a sexy “good night” before going to bed. Touch base through an inside joke each afternoon. These routines create a sense of warmth and stability that can make you feel closer to one another.

4. Go on “distance dates.”

Watch a movie at the same time, eating the same snacks, while Skype is going in the background. Play an online game together. Go to spin class at the same time.  Read the same book, and discuss it as you go. Write each other a love letter at the same time, then mail them. Sharing an experience – even from afar – can keep you connected.

5. Follow the rules.

Speak openly with one another about what you expect from them when you are not there. Are you dating exclusively, or are you allowed to see other people? Is it ok to bring a friend to a social function as a platonic date? Clarity – and honesty – surrounding these issues is always important, but even more so when you are in a long distance relationship.

6. Share the little moments.

Send a short video of the silly trick your dog started doing. Ask for an opinion on which dress to wear through a picture message. It is in these small, seemingly mundane moments that we live our lives. Don’t let your partner miss them.

7. Keep a piece of your partner.

Sleep in his favorite hoodie. Keep her lucky penny in your pocket. Play your partner’s favorite songs in the car on your morning commute. Create intimacy in small ways that make your partner feel closer than they are.

8. Give each other space.

Believe it or not, it is possible to smother someone from thousands of miles away. If you’ve agreed to daily check-ins, there’s no need for constant text updates as well. When it comes to communication, it is wise to prioritize quality over quantity.

9. Set an end date.

Long-distance can work for a few months – or even years – but it’s no way to live your life. Agree on what circumstances would be a good enough reason for one of you to move and join the other. This could be based on external factors – like the end of a work project or graduation from law school – or internal ones, such as an engagement or the birth of a child. There needs to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Absence is to love as wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small and kindles the great,” wrote Roger de Bussy-Rabutin. If your love is the real deal, this time apart will only make it stronger. I wish you the best of luck as you start on this crazy, tumultuous, wonderful journey together.

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