HOW TO MAKE A LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP WORK: 15 TIPS FOR SURVIVING (AND THRIVING)
Do Long-Distance Relationships Work? 15 best tips and tricks to make a long-distance relationship work
- Set an end date
- Find certainty in uncertainty
- Be comfortable with silence
- Improve the quality of your conversations
- Make video calls an option
- Live the single life
- Hunt the paranoia monster
- Share the little moments
- Mark your territory
- Speak the language of love for each other
- Respond to their publications
- Nourish your sex relationship (18+ only)
- set your limits
- Prepare for conflicts
- Be intentional
Living far from the person you love causes a special kind of agony.
At the start of our relationship, we lived at a distance for about six months. And like most long-distance couples, we were forced to face some painful fears and insecurities:
"Are long-distance relationships worth it?"
"Can it work? Or evolve into something meaningful?"
We learned a lot from that time - and made a ton of mistakes along the way. And yet, here we are eight years later, happily married and living together under the same roof.
Therefore, we have learned from the strategies and practical advice we have developed for our relationship coaching clients. It's not just the theory of how to maintain a long-distance relationship. It is a step-by-step plan of action that you can use in your relationship right now.
You will learn:
How to stay emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship.
The most common problems and difficulties in long-distance relationships (and how to avoid them).
How to survive a long-distance relationship for a long time.
Based on experience and evidence, consider this the ultimate guide to having a healthy, happy, and successful long-distance relationship.
But before we get to that, let's first address this critical question:
DO LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS WORK?
When approached correctly, long-distance relationships can strengthen communication skills, deepen emotional bonds, and help you find a healthy balance between closeness and independence. Long-term relationships can put you on the path to long-term success by bringing up underlying issues that many in-person relationships neglect to address.
Think of it this way: Time spent in a long-distance relationship is a lot like human years versus cat years:
Six months in a long-distance relationship can feel like two years of deep and focused relationship work, which is not always easy. But by implementing these distance relationship tips, we believe you can dramatically improve the quality of your long-distance relationship.
15 BEST TIPS AND TRICKS TO MAKE A LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP WORK
TIP # 1: SET AN END DATE
Did you know that looking forward to the weekend helps you cope during a boring workday?
Having a date to focus on can help you overcome the distance.
Overall, you will want to have a plan to be together permanently. But it's just as important to prioritize current temporary moments.
It might be a vacation you're planning together or a weekend ahead. It could be a family event or a midweek business trip that brings you to the same city. These tours break the monotony and isolation and give you something to look forward to. But as the madness of pandemic has shown, sometimes these short-term goals are not possible, so if you are unsure when you will have the opportunity to meet again.
TIP #2: FIND CERTAINTY IN UNCERTAINTY
But just because you don't have a clear plan for the future doesn't mean your romantic relationship is uncertain. Sometimes it just isn't possible to sketch a timeline. Sometimes the complexities of work, study, travel, or family stand in the way. And it's when you don't know how or when you'll be able to be together that things start to get bleak and hopeless. Because here's the thing:
Every time you show off to each other - on a video call or texting - you choose yourself. You make a big, bold, and beautiful statement that says, "I'm always here ... and I always choose this."
And it's a form of certainty and commitment.
TIP 3#: BE COMFORTABLE WITH SILENCE
In a face-to-face relationship, there are many times when you just hang out together and don't say much. But sitting silently on Facetime in a long-distance relationship is a little weird.
While silence is normal and natural, it is one of those issues unique to long-distance relationships that causes people to question the health of their relationship. And worry that something is wrong.
Instead of seeing silence as a problem, try to accept it.
During your first video call, try to sit intentionally silently for a while:
Don't just look at yourself, but observe the other.
Pay attention to your body - your breathing, your emotions, and whatever sensations you feel. Also, notice the impact of the other's presence on you. It may seem awkward at first. But you will be surprised at what this can open between you.
Starting a video date with this online variation of the "gaze" can help you feel more centered and relaxed. It also allows you to appreciate each other and connect without words.
This practice also has a positive effect on hormones:
Studies * in the neuroscience of gazing show an increase in oxytocin (the hormone of love and attachment), which increases feelings of closeness and negates some of the adverse psychological effects of long-distance relationships.
TIP # 4: IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF YOUR CONVERSATIONS
How to stay emotionally connected in a long-distance relationship?
Communication is essential. But communicating is not limited to "talking." What matters is how you communicate and what you communicate.
One of the easiest ways to improve the quality of your conversations is to improve the quality of your questions.
Instead of the usual rut of "How was your day?" Conversation, try going deeper:
"What's the best thing that happened today? ... And why?" leads to a much more rewarding conversation.
You can also try more general but revealing questions such as: "What's the thing that has been worrying you the most lately?"
Focus on questions that develop your understanding of the other: their current passions or struggles, childhood, and favorite movies or books. These are all elements that help you update your Love Maps and deepen your emotional connection.
TIP # 5: MAKE VIDEO CALLS AN OPTION
A common mistake many long-distance couples make is talking to each other every day.
Keeping in touch every day is a great feeling. But it can also create a ton of pressure and expectations.
There will be times when you won't be able to do it.
The frequency of communication in a long-distance relationship is more of an art than a science:
It depends on your lifestyle, your communication styles, your personality. And yes, your time zones.
To help relieve the pressure, adopt a non-judgmental and guilt-free opt-out policy. There is nothing wrong with reducing the regularity of your calls if it increases the quality of your calls.
Believe that you can give yourself some space and savor the bittersweetness of missing each other.
TIP 6#: LIVE THE SINGLE LIFE
No, we're not talking about playing on the pitch. (You must respect the relationship agreements you have made).
But you know, all the other cool things that come with being single?
Spend time with friends and family.
Prioritize your passions and hobbies.
Sleep diagonally in bed, and don't get pissed off.
You can have all of that AND a great relationship too.
The truth is, many people have a hard time keeping their identities and feeling free in a relationship. Which inevitably leads to severe problems down the road.
But a long-distance relationship allows you to excel in this area from the start:
View time away as an opportunity to be your best. So when you finally find yourself, you find yourself as two amazing, whole and fulfilled, people.
Discovering and developing your personality is good not only for you but also for your long-term relationship.
Check out our coaching pages for men and women and book a free call. (Need some support on your journey of self-discovery? We'll help you develop a personalized action plan to unleash your awesomeness).
TIP # 7: HUNT THE PARANOIA MONSTER
We understand. Living single life away from each other can bring all of these anxieties and unhealthy attachment styles to the surface.
Increased jealousy and insecurity are common emotional and psychological effects of long-distance relationships. But there are ways to prevent these feelings from ruling your life.
A proper commitment to make is to give your partner the benefit of the doubt:
If he doesn't answer a text or miss a call you had planned, don't immediately say to yourself, "He must have found someone else and doesn't even want to be with me anymore!".
Instead, go for the more reasonable (and much more likely) explanation:
They fell asleep on the sofa. They are catching up with work and lost track of time. They have mixed up their time zones and are still cooking dinner.
Keep your cool, stay calm, collected, and actively work to keep the Paranoia Monster at bay. Otherwise, you risk creating problems where there are none.
Do you notice an increase in anxiety or worry?
Try to write down your concerns and resolve them rationally. Talk to your partner, tell them that the paranoia monster has visited you, and talk about it. Take responsibility for your fears and insecurities, rather than blaming your actions.
Talking honestly about your thoughts and feelings not only keeps the monster at bay but also builds confidence and emotional intimacy.
TIP 8#: SHARE THE LITTLE MOMENTS
Speaking of emotional intimacy, it's often the little things that you miss the most when you're away from your partner:
Share a coffee on Sunday morning
snuggle up on the couch to watch Netflix
Prepare dinner together
These everyday moments are highly precious for long-distance couples. They help you feel more included and emotionally close to each other.
Take a picture of yourself and your toothbrush. Text your partner that you are watching your favorite show and that you are thinking of your partner. (Better yet, set up a video call so you can sit back and watch the same show together). Send them a playlist of your favorite tracks on Spotify.
Some of the best ways to maintain a long-distance relationship are the easiest.
TIP # 9: MARK YOUR TERRITORY
As with sharing small things, having physical memories of each other in your space can also be very helpful:
Whether it's keeping one of her t-shirts in your closet, her favorite coffee mug on the kitchen bench, or photos scattered around the house, these little keepsakes will help her feel close to your heart.
A sweet and straightforward thing to do is send each other surprise items in the mail:
One of your hair clips. A book you just read. Your perfume or essential oil. Small objects that lie around usually and remind you of each other.
TIP 10#: SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE FOR EACH OTHER
Tongues of love are essential in any relationship. But for long-distance couples, this is a survival skill.
Don't know what it is?
The 5 Languages of Love * were developed by Gary Chapman, another relationship specialist. We all express and receive love in different ways:
Words of affirmation
Acts of service
Knowing each other's love language helps you both feel loved and validated. And they're a big help when the distance gets tough:
Is your partner having a tough day? If her love language is the gift, have her deliver a bouquet or her favorite pastry to send her an injection of love.
If his love language is the words of affirmation, a sincere text or letter is the best solution.
Knowing how to speak the other's language is like having your heart on speed dial when you are away from each other.
TIP 11#: REACT TO HIS PUBLICATIONS
Did your partner just share something on Instagram?
We bet there is one Like that is worth more than all the others put together.
It's such a simple yet powerful way to show that you are thinking of them. That you follow their life and that you are by their side at all times.
NOURISH YOUR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP (18+ ONLY)
Sexual intimacy is an essential part of any relationship.
And if you consider the lack of physical contact in long-distance relationships - all the hugs, kisses, and missing hands - finding ways to connect intimately becomes even more critical.
The challenge is to find ways to have sex that are both comfortable and satisfying.
But there's no shortage of options. It just takes good communication, respect for limits, and a little imagination.
Do you need some inspiration? Here are some ideas on how to be intimate in a long-distance relationship:
Make sure the images or videos you send are for your partner's eyes. It may involve setting limits on how you want your pictures to be used and stored and ultimately deleted if that's what you want for any reason.
And if you are under the age of 18 and have come across this blog, please be aware that sending nude images is considered child pornography and is illegal. Know your laws, and stay safe.
TIP 13#: SET YOUR LIMITS
Speaking of sex, have you ever taken the time to define your relationship style?
Is your relationship monogamous? Open/polyamorous?
What exactly do these words mean to you? And what are the resulting agreements?
The point is, most couples assume they're on the same page. But as the saying goes, "Presumption is the mother of all bullshit."
So even if your relationship style is clear, you'll want to clarify your boundaries and expectations further:
Ask questions about what flirting means to each of you, including what it sounds like on social media. What exactly constitutes "deception"? Is this a sexual connection? Emotional intimacy? What do transparency and honesty mean to you?
These conversations can be challenging to have. But in the long run, they will help build confidence in your relationship and help you feel more secure despite the distance between you.
TIP # 14: PREPARE FOR CONFLICT
In a long-distance relationship, misunderstandings can quickly get out of hand. And one of the most common reasons why arguments start? The fact of not feeling in tune with the other.
You probably know what this does:
After a few bumpy minutes, it's clear you're not on the same page.
Or you are explaining something important, but the other person does not see where you are going.
Or, for some reason, you just can't seem to fit into the story it tells.
The truth is, sometimes, the conversation and connection are awkward, especially in a long-distance relationship. And while you can try to persevere, sometimes it's best just to let it go.
Have a quick way to name it, so you can at least voice your discomfort and deal with expectations.
Don't be afraid to say, "I'm in the wrong frame of mind today. Can we try again tomorrow?"
Create a strategy for the times when you feel disconnected, rather than trying to deal with them at the moment. By anticipating conflict, you will prepare to deal with it when it inevitably arises.
TIP # 15: BE INTENTIONAL
We've saved the best for last:
When it comes to relationships, most people fall in and make it up as they stumble.
On the other hand, successful long-distance relationships require a lot more planning and thinking. Here you have the opportunity to be intentional - to prepare your relationship for success in a way that most in-person relationships never do.
It can take various forms:
From the outline of your relationship to the development of a global vision of your life together. It's about designing a relationship, which we call a conscious relationship.
The time you spend in conversation allows you to talk about the things that matter:
Your wildest dreams
Your hopes and fears for the future
What you want to create in your life
Why this relationship is essential to you.
You see, having these powerful conversations makes your relationship bulletproof. Yet, many couples do not have the guts or the intention to go.