Hey there, friends! One of the most popular questions that me and John have received over the last year has been surrounding how we made our long-distance relationship work. We dated with over 4,000 miles between us for the first year of our relationship and, while it wasn’t ideal and had it’s share of not-so-fun moments, I believe our relationship is stronger and better for it! If you’re currently in a long-distance relationship or in a relationship and will be doing long-distance for a period of time, we thought we’d share a few times that helped us!
Shift your perspective.
While it’s tough to be away from someone you feel drawn to and love deeply, see the distance and the time you spend apart as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship in a way not many traditional couples are able to. For me, the time I spent apart from John made me appreciate the time we get to spend together now so much more. I don’t take it for granted. It’s important to cognitively reframe situations that are less than ideal in order to tap into hope and make getting through it a little easier.
Define the relationship and ensure that both of your end goals match up.
It’s incredibly important that, as a long distance couple, you know where you both stand in the relationship. Is this an open relationship? Are you exclusive? Have you spent time with each other in person enough to know how you truly feel about the other? Do you see a future with this person? Because I had only gone on three dates with John before starting to date him long-distance, I was a little nervous that the time I was investing might not amount to something that would last because I hadn’t spent enough time with him in person. However, from very early on, we knew that our connection was special and we could both tell how invested we were and that we saw a future together. If you can tell that you’re both on the same page and putting the same amount of effort in, go for it!
Have a long-term plan for the relationship.
One of the things that can make distance even harder is not having a clear understanding as to when it will end. [Ha, sounds pretty similar to quarantine at the moment, huh?] This is going to be easier for some than others. This was particularly hard for us because it was hard to say exactly when I would be ready to apply for my visa. But, generally speaking, it’s always good for our mental space to know when something will end so that we know what we’re working toward.
Respect the reason behind the distance.
It’s also important to completely respect why you’re having to spend this time apart. It’s obviously not going to be ideal for either one of you but don’t hold it over the others’ head when you’re frustrated by it. Try your best to keep a level head. The distance could be for the good of you both in the long run so try your best to be respectful. Believe me. I understand how frustrating distance can be. We had lots of delays with our situation [me trying to get a visa] but, remember – the distance will not be forever.
Communicate regularly and consistently.
It’s important to communicate with your significant other while you’re apart in order to show them that they are a priority to you. When you check in and include your significant other, it builds trust and deepens your relationship. A lot of people would find it hard to trust someone right away if you start a relationship the way me and John did but, what made it easier is how well he communicated with me. If he went out with friends, he would take selfies with the boys and send them to me and then video call me with his friends as they were heading to the next bar. He always made me feel thought of and never made me feel like a secret.
However, avoid excessive communication.
Just because you’re far away from the person you love doesn’t mean you need to overcompensate by excessively communicating. Don’t be too needy and maintain your own level of independence and comfort in the life you lead outside of your relationship. And, remember, there is an obvious difference between checking in with and checking up on your significant other. So, make sure that, when you are communicating, it’s not to make the other person feel like you don’t trust them or are too curious about what they’re up to.
Trust is a must.
Trust is the cornerstone to any and all relationships. It’s something that every relationship needs to survive and it’s one of the top things you must lean on in order to get through your long-distance relationship successfully. While I didn’t love doing long-distance, I did feel it was made easier by the full trust I had in John. He did such a good job of expressing his feelings to me and for me and how important our relationship was to him but, more than that, showing me in the ways that he could. He always called when he said he would, always made me feel like a priority, and never went MIA. He always kept me in the loop when he was out with friends and even included me on some of their nights’ out with short video calls. These were all things that he did without me asking and, in return, built my trust in him. And, while he always did this for me, I believe I did the same for him in return. Always do what you say you’re going to do and do what you can from afar to show your partner that they can trust you.
Avoid situations that could put your relationship at risk.
This is something that all couples should be doing, whether you’re in a long-distance relationship or not. However, distance from your significant other can have its share of low feelings and emotions that could cause one to be tempted to fill it with something or someone other than their partner. So, know what situations would put you on a slippery slope and avoid those.
Manage your expectations by setting some ground rules.
While having ‘rules’ doesn’t sound like fun, it’s important to know what your partner expects of you and have your partner understand what your expectations of them are while apart. I believe it’s important to do this prior to being long-distance or as early on in the relationship as possible. Don’t be afraid of having such a serious conversation, either. The more you communicate, the more you set yourselves up for success. Some of the rules we made were to always send the other person a video message for the other to wake up to, never go two months without seeing each other, and making sure we spent the holidays together. These rules are going to look different for every couple so, set the rules that make the most sense for you guys!
Visit as often as possible for your situation.
Being able to visit ‘often’ is going to depend on a number of circumstances so be realistic when it comes to making a rule surrounding what that looks like for you guys. But, do make seeing each other a priority when and if you can throughout your time apart because it is what will invigorate you both and remind you of why you both chose, not only each other, but to commit to each other even if distance was a part of your story together.
Video call at least a couple of times a day.
Technology can really keep you going. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have done a long-distance relationship in the age of WhatsApp and Facetime. I love that I was able to see John’s face every day. While it’s not as good as the real thing, it does really make you feel like you’re spending quality time with the person you love in the best way you can considering the circumstances. It allows you a window into their life in a way nothing else can provide when you’re apart.
Get creative and make plans to do things together.
In other words, create opportunities for you both to connect about something that is outside of just day-to-day life. Read the same book, assign a certain amount of chapters to read, and then assign a date you guys want to discuss it. Or, do the same with a Netflix series. Plan when you will watch certain episodes then discuss the following day OR, if you can, watch it together. Another idea is to pick recipes to cook together. Whether it’s from a cookbook or choosing the same Home Chef meals, cooking together would make for such a nice date night for you both!
Find little ways to show the other person you love them and are thinking about them.
While technology does do so much for those in long-distance relationships, don’t underestimate or forget the power of traditional means of communication or surprise gestures. Writing a handwritten note with a small package of goodies that might mean something to the person or you both as a couple would be something anyone would appreciate, especially if it’s from the person you love. Sending flowers or a bottle of champagne would be also be a nice gesture when your significant other has something to celebrate or just because! Making an effort behind the scenes for your significant other will really show them how much you care about them.
Show each other and your relationship respect with your behavior on social media.
One of the most annoying things about dating in this day and age is discussing expectations when it comes to social media. These conversations are never fun but, if you both are truly wanting to prioritize each other and your relationship, it’s really important that you verbalize what you do not want to see the other doing on social media. This just ensures you don’t have to constantly be questioning the other persons’ feelings for you.
Always say good morning and goodnight.
This is likely debatable but, for me, I think one of the most loving things you can do when you’re apart is to make sure the other person knows you’re thinking about them at the start of your day and before you go to bed. I loved listening to John’s video message every morning letting me know what his day was going to look like and leaving him one to wake up to before I went to bed. I felt like it was one of the easiest ways we stayed super connected during our time apart and something we both looked forward to.
Be open and honest about your feelings. And, always be willing to listen and show support.
At the end of the day, long distance is hard so, be sure to maintain that respect for why you’re apart but also be honest about how you’re feeling when it does start to get to you. It’s an opportunity for you guys to be there for each other. If the one struggling is your significant other, be sure to lend a listening ear and show your support for what they are sharing. You will really need to lean on each other. Always remember that this time apart will do nothing but strengthen your bond and relationship as a whole.
Whew! Okay, that about does it! Do you have any you’d like to add for anyone in a long-distance relationship? I feel like I could have kept going but my fingers are about to fall off! Hah! I hope all of that made sense. Let me know if you have any questions about how we made it through. Happy to share more in the comments below! Thanks for stopping by! xo.