5 Ways To Keep Your Long-Distance Relationship Strong
Updated: Sep 20
How To Thrive In Your Long-Distance Relationship
Distance makes the heart grow fonder!
It's a popular saying but if you've ever been in a long-distance relationship, you know that sometimes distance can be tough on a partnership.
Couples in different locations can lose touch with each other's day-to-day lives, their emotional connection to each other, and even their "why" for being together in the first place!
But don't worry, that doesn't have to be the case for you and your love life.
With these 5 Tips, you can not only help your long-distance relationship survive but make it(and you) THRIVE!
1. Create Effortless
Remember when you first learned how to drive a car? It felt like there were a million steps. Mirror check, seat adjustment, fasten seatbelt, turn ignition, etc. Then one day, you just did it! No checklist required. You put in extra effort at the beginning and the process became so smooth it felt effortless.
That is how your long-distance relationship can feel! Many people opt out of long-distance romance because they think it is going to be "too much work" but the truth is, it doesn't have to be!
All relationships require a certain amount of time, attention, and energy to thrive. A long-distance one is no different. Yet creating routines, coordinating schedules, and setting aside time for each other early on and on an ongoing basis is a win.
Sit down at the beginning of the month or week and see what works for both of your schedules. Try to create routines and systems, so that moving forward things just flow.
For example, maybe you agree on a weekly Zoom call after their Wednesday work meeting, or you set aside Friday evenings for virtual dates. Yes, it might require you to say no to some things and other offers, but that is true of up close relationships as well. Setting aside the time, making the effort, and scheduling up front, can make the process feel more like a flow instead of a checklist.
2. Set Standards Early
Communication is important in every relationship but in long-distance ones, it is even more essential.
One of the biggest breakers of long-distance relationships is the lack of communicated expectations. That can be around the amount of interaction like texts and calls, types of outings(like a happy hour alone with a female coworker), and the number of in-person meetups during the time of separation.
For example, if one person is expecting daily phone calls, and the other one is thinking twice a week is plenty, you could see where that could lead to some major unnecessary blow-ups down the line. So get ahead of the game!
Set it up for success, right from the get-go! Establishing communication expectations and standards, discussing what each partner is comfortable with, and talking out possible hiccups or scenarios, are all ways that a couple can set their relationship up for success.
Getting some ground rules in place may seem like putting the cart before the horse, but it actually prevents a lot of future miscommunications. If each person knows what the other is comfortable with and they can agree on ongoing standards of communication and interaction within the relationship, they set it up for smooth sailing. It also helps lay a foundation for future communication, so if a hiccup does arise, there is a baseline for talking it out.
3. Find Flexibility
Setting up schedules is great but don't forget to schedule in some flexibility! Things happen. Life happens. Even when people live in the same home, they might have to cancel dates or dinners with each other. Unfortunately, when you are far from your partner, it can be tough to make up that time so it can feel a little more escalated.
Just remember, it's important to be flexible. Let your partner know the interaction is important to you, and then find other ways or days to make up that time. Feeling boxed in or "tied down" isn't necessarily about proximity, it is about a feeling. So you want to make sure to give your partner the same freedom you would if they were right next door. If your live-in partner had to postpone dinner because of an unexpected work meeting, you would be cool as a cucumber about that right? If it truly was beyond their control, then what can you do?
Try to keep that same mentality around your long-distance partnership. Yet, although you want to be flexible you don't want to be Gumby. So if the last-minute cancels, and ongoing "reschedules" never happen, that might indicate a bigger issue. But if someone cancels, has a valid reason, apologizes for any inconvenience or hurt feelings, and reschedules, then try to cut them some slack. They might just return the favor.
4. Garner Support
Being in a long-distance partnership can feel lonely sometimes. Yet just as with all experiences, we are in this together! You are not alone. There are lots of people who for various reasons find themselves in long-distance relationships. And you know what? They might just have some tips for you!
Pinterest has lots of posts and blogs about long-distance date ideas and relationship builders. There are Facebook groups and online forums for long-distance partnership participants. There are entire Instagram accounts dedicated to it. There are even support groups, especially for individuals whose partners are in the military. Basically, you are nowhere near alone in this.
So find some support! And don't forget to look in your local community. Even just amping up your friend and family time can be helpful in fending off long-distance loneliness. Or maybe there are others near you experiencing something similar or have before.
Garner some support so you know you have it when and where you need it.
(One thing I would like to caution. It is great to use these platforms or friends as support, but it is not a great idea to use them as a stand-in therapist or a container to vent or share deeply personal info about your partner or relationship. You want to keep your relationship a safe space even when you are apart. So swapping fun long-distance date ideas? Yes! Having them help you sort out deeply personal intimacy issues? Probably not.) See Couple Bubble post for more info on why.
5. Remember Your "Why"
When a long-distance partner has to skip a phone call or cancel a virtual date, the loss can feel more heightened. When we don't hear from someone for a few days, the emotions around it can escalate. We can quickly begin to spiral into dark places and scenarios in our minds.
Yet here is where we want to give it some grace and take it easy. Each relationship has its own trials and tribulations, long-distance ones are no exception. Emotions can heighten, losses can escalate and a silent night can turn into a very loud next day. Just try to remember, it is all part of the process. Try to remember the reason you agreed to a long-distance relationship and all the wonderful things about your partner. Try to keep your eye on the prize--them!
You wanted to be with them for a reason. What was it? You decided you would rather be in a long-distance relationship than not with them at all. Why? Focusing on why you are with them and why you made the decision you did will help keep you calm, cool, and collected. Also if there is an end date(which hopefully there is) then keep it in sight. It might not be the ideal situation, but there is an end to it, so remember it's only temporary. Do the best you can in the in-between. It's ok if it's not perfect, or is a little messy. Same-city relationships are too! Just do the best you can.
Communicate as much as possible, hold boundaries where you need to, and let go of the things that in the overall scheme, don't really matter.
To Sum It All Up...
If Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan can make it work in You've Got Mail then so can you!
Basically, there are all kinds of ways to keep a Long Distance Love Life Strong and these 5 Tips will help you do just that!
Long Distance relationships can be work, or they can work. They can barely survive or you can help them thrive! The choice is yours!