If the idea of a long distance relationship scares you, you are not the only one.
According to the list of most-searched questions of 2017 released by Google, “how to make a long distance relationship work?” is the most-searched question in the relationship niche.
So, not only are tons of people in long distance relationships, but they also are optimistic that they can make it work if they just find out how.
That does not surprise us.
Why? Because we are living in a world where it’s easy to have breakfast in Mumbai and then hop onto a flight and reach Dubai before nightfall. Where more and more people are opting to become location-independent workers if their field of work allows for it. Where the geographical boundaries of the country you were born in do not dictate the course of your life or who you get to hang out with.
No wonder the number of people in long distance relationships is increasing exponentially!
If that spiked your blood pressure, calm down. According to a 2014 research that studied 717 individuals engaged in a long distance relationship and 425 individuals in a local relationship, long distance relationships are not at a disadvantage compared to local relationships, and breakups in both types of relationships occur because of individual characteristics rather than the geographical distance between the partners.
So, if you are currently in a long distance relationship, hurray! You have got good odds on your side…at least geographically. And the rest you can make up by doing these 20 things that experts say will make your relationship last forever.
20Believe It Can Work
According to Vince Brantley, relationship coach for Maze of Love, if you want to make your long distance relationship work, you really need to believe it will. Instead, if you have a glass-half-full attitude from the get-go, you will definitely have a breakdown in the future.
“The alternative to this is that [the couple] are moving forward, but skeptical along the way. This is a common and unfortunate issue that haunts a lot of long distance relationships. The reality is this: if pre-existing skepticism exists, what would be otherwise minor issues become relationship show-stoppers,” he told Bustle on the subject.
And it makes perfect sense. After all, we all have sabotaged relationships we thought would not work out in the future. And since the probability of miscommunications occurring in a long distance relationship is a lot more than that for local relationships, it pays to part with optimism in your heart.
Believe us, when your boo doesn’t text you back for six hours one day, instead of jumping to the conclusion that he must be cheating on you, if you believe in your relationship, your first reaction would be to worry if he fell sick suddenly.
19Set Goals For The Evolution Of Your Relationship Over Time
“Long-distance relationships need to establish and meet their relationship goals in order to prove their viability,” bestselling author and relationship expert, Susan Winter told Bustle on the subject. “These goals can include getting engaged or moving in together. Without these types of concrete markers of advancement, one or both partners could lose faith in the relationship’s future.”
This point hits the bull’s eye when it comes to reasons why relationships eventually fall apart. After all, would you be willing to stick around if you knew your partner was not in it for the long haul?
Absolutely not. You would extricate yourself the first chance you got just so you do not end up wasting months, if not years, of your life in a dead-end relationship!
So, if you are in a long distance relationship, make sure you and your partner sit down and discuss these nitty-gritties before the two of you head off to your individual destinations. And if your partner is reluctant to think so far ahead and begs you to “live in the moment”, it’s best if you two part ways before you get in too deep.
Believe us, regardless of the geographical distance, if he’s in it for the long haul, he will not be afraid of discussing the future with you!
18Know Your Communication Style
Communication can make or break a relationship. And this is even more so for long distance relationships that are prone to glitches in electronics and faulty telephone towers. That’s why if you really want your long distance relationship to work, you really need to understand each other’s communication style before the two of you are parted by distance.
“When two people are together, some people don’t like to get texts when they’re at work. Or some people want to communicate multiple times a day. Hopefully you’ve known this person before and you’re not just starting out with the distance, so you have a greater sense of them, but you should figure out the best way to reach out to each other so you feel connected and have regular times to check in,” said Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist specializing in romantic relationships, in an interview with Marie Claire.
Another place where you might developing friction is the content of your conversations.
If one of you prefers approaching situations only from a logical perspective while the other is more fond of emotional exchanges, it can create friction between the two of you when all you want to do is rant about the nasty thing your coworker did that day while your partner is more interested in cutting the rant short and offering up a solution to the problem.
In such a situation, letting your partner know beforehand that ranting helps you de-stress and feel better can prevent conflicts down the line.
17Regularly Convey The Depth Of Your Love And Affection
Actions might speak louder than words, but words are also important sometimes. It’s not just because heartfelt expression of love and desire is extremely romantic, it’s also because we are hard-wired to be suckers for flattery.
Come on, don’t tell us that you don’t like it when your boo tells you that you are the most wonderful woman he has ever met in his life and he is grateful that you chose him. Yup, that line’s an instant charmer!
“Your long-distance mate can never get enough positive reinforcement from you,” relationship expert, Susan Winter, told Bustle on the subject. “This is the type of emotional food that [long distance relationships] live upon. Be conscious of providing a continual supply of heartfelt messages along with plans for the future. Stay mindful of your partner’s need for security by reconfirming the depth of your love and commitment.”
Just remember: this should not be a one-way street. Because if it is, before long the partner who is doing all the conveying starts to wonder if the other is really as invested in the relationship as they are.
So, ladies, take note because we often tend to forget that our men need compliments and heartfelt words of love and commitment too!
16Plan A Date Night Over Skype
It would be infinitely better if the two of you were able to go on date nights together and then share an ice-cream as you walked down the boulevard, but sadly, you aren’t, so you have to go to make do with the next best alternative – Skype.
And though having a date over Skype or Whatsapp video call can be awkward, especially when the internet connection is too wonky, the act of going through with your video date ends up strengthening your bond because it shows you that both of you are willing to invest time and energy to keep your connection alive and strong.
And in case you were wondering how to go about with this long distance date, this is what behavioral scientist, Clarissa Silva told Bustle –
“Set up a date and time as you would in real life and do everything you would in real life. Get dressed up, candlelight, wine/champagne setting, any routine you have for a physical date apply it to your video date. I showed up in a sequin top for a date with my now-husband and we still laugh about it three years later.”
Wow! If that last line didn’t convince you to give video dating a try, we don’t know what will.
15Let Your Partner Know What You Need From The Relationship
“The most crucial thing to do at the outset of a long distance relationship is to know what you need from your partner and to have the vulnerability to say so,” Dr. Paulette Sherman told Marie Claire.
That means if you need to have long conversations about abstract things to feel mentally satisfied by your relationship, like what would people do once Mars is colonized or the difference between a soulmate and a twin flame, you should let your partner know about it early on. Similarly, if you need your partner to understand why you are triggered by certain inane things (because they bring up bad memories from your past or childhood), you should let your partner know that you would like them to support you while you battle those triggers and try to uproot them from your psyche.
The whole idea of being honest about your needs is so both of you know you can be vulnerable with each other and still be safe. Nothing builds trust more than this.
But aside from the deeper stuff, communicating about your needs can also mean sharing your passions with your partner so they can engage with them too. After all, wouldn’t your heart swell with love if you are a writer and your partner writes you a heartfelt letter, instead of the other way around?
14Establish Boundaries That Build Trust
Relationships need boundaries or else it wouldn’t be a relationship. And this can mean a lot of different things for different couples.
For some boundaries can mean not befriending another member of the opposite gender and for others, it can mean calling up the other at the end of the night when each goes out on a night out with friends. The whole idea is that your partner will not be comfortable with certain things and vice versa, and you need to respect each other’s needs to grow stronger as a couple. But there’s a limit to what constitutes as boundaries.
“You need to make sure that you’re not being super controlling and that the other person’s okay with it. But if you know you have a need, you can address it in the beginning before it gets ugly or out of control. Whatever agreement you both make will build trust and establish integrity,” Dr. Paulette Sherman told Marie Claire.
And this extends to giving each other surprise visits. Because while some people would love the surprise, others would shut down because it would make them feel like you were trying to catch them cheating on your red-handed.
“Couples have different boundaries but if you’re fine with surprising each other and/or meeting each other’s friends when they do visit, they won’t feel like this outlier in your life or that you have a secret relationship.”
13Clear Up The Air By Calling Up When You Fight
According to Dr. Sherman (in her interview with Marie Claire), couples in a long distance relationship need to mitigate fights better than those in local relationships. And they should get out of the habit of texting each other when angry as that increases the risk of miscommunications.
The whole idea is to never go to bed angry. Because when you have thousands of miles between the two of you, this can make things worse. The human imagination is really not your friend in such situations.
In fact, if you have a habit of stonewalling people, it could potentially destroy your relationship completely when you have a lot of miles between the two of you since it can feel a lot like ghosting to your partner.
According to Dr. Sherman, you should clear the air immediately whenever something bothers either of you since that prevents annoyances from becoming full-fledged wars down the line. (Heard of the bottled up volcano?) And the best way to do that is to pick up the phone and call.
Another thing you need to remember when it comes to fights is this: instead of blaming your partner for something he did, ask him why he did it and then let him know why it bothered you specifically. This way he will not feel threatened and will not shut down.
12Send Them Pictures Of Interesting Things You Do During The Day
According to Matthew Hussey, the bestselling author of Get The Guy and matchmaker on NBC‘s Ready For Love, to make a long distance relationship work, you need to create unexpected moments with your partner in your communication with them.
“[Take] pictures during your day and send them so they have pictures of you going through your day. So you are not always talking to them at the end of the night or first thing in the morning, but instead, you are letting them interact with your day and showing them a kind of montage of your day. That’s a really lovely thing to do.”
Having a smoothie in the middle of the day because you felt like it? Send him a picture of you with a milk mustache on your face. Saw a cuddle of puppies on your way to the grocery store? Send him a picture of the cuties harassing their tired mom. Can’t decide what to wear for your friend’s birthday dinner? Send him a picture holding up the two one by one.
There really are no limits to what you can send him. Just make sure you don’t bombard his phone with pings every ten minutes. Instead, send him a sweet pictorial surprise maybe twice or thrice a day with the best stories or a funny caption so they never lose their shine.
11Take Advantage Of Your Other Senses
Matthew Hussey likes to use the analogy of a blind person when he explains this point. Because like a blind person whose other sense are more heightened because of the loss of one, when you are in a long distance relationship, the loss of physical intimacy because of distance can actually heighten your other senses in the relationship.
“You can’t be standing next to them, you can’t touch them, you can’t caress them, you can’t kiss them, you can’t have all those intimate moments. But what you can do is develop your other senses. For example, the level of communication and connection you have, how well you get to know each other, how good you get at reading each other. You might be able to develop the more important parts of your relationship with someone while you are away from them than someone who is next to their partner.”
Believe us, the watch movie, cuddle, and kiss routine gets tiring after a while.
“Many times couples who spend all their time together, when they get on the phone they have nothing to talk about. They realize they have no connection. So take advantage of the other senses.”
10Have A Team Mindset
“Almost an ‘us against the world’ mindset,” says Hussey. “That you and I can deal with any obstacle that comes our way. That you and I are bigger than anything that could come our way. There’s no problem or obstacle bigger than us. There’s no person bigger than us as a couple. We can deal with whatever comes our way. You have to have that instinct in your mind.”
But he also cautions people to always discuss it with their partner first. Because you don’t want to be the only one who feels this way, like the two of you are a team that can take on the world, only to realize later that he was never on the same page as you and is not willing to stand up for you for certain things.
Having this conversation tells you a few things about your relationship.
One: where the two of you stand in your relationship. As in, how strongly each of you feels for the other.
Two: how invested are you in the relationship and how much he is. Because if your level of investment does not match your partner’s, you will soon end up having a fallout.
9Have A “Light At The End Of The Tunnel”
When you are in a long distance relationship, the “light at the end of the tunnel” is just a fancy way of saying have some plan together that you can look forward to in the near future.
“The obvious ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ is the day the two of you are going to come together or be together,” says Hussey. “The other ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ can be a trip that you are going to take together or a time when you are going to see each other. A time that is going to be better than it is now. Hold on to that ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and celebrate it together.”
We absolutely love this advice because of the wonderful way it lights up in our mind’s eye.
Just remember: “the light at the end of the tunnel” should satisfy both of you in some way or another. For example, if you are an adventurous soul and love hiking and outdoor camping trips and your boo likes to cuddle indoors, your “light at the end of the tunnel” can be a weekend getaway to some hilly region where the two of you cozy up in a tent underneath the stars.
8Have Deep Conversations Regularly
“A new study that just came out suggests that couples in long distance relationships have more meaningful interactions than those that see each other on a more daily basis. And this leads to higher levels of intimacy,” says Adam Lodolce, dating and relationship coach.
Just because the two people in a long distance relationship are unable to be physically together, it automatically increases the amount of time they spend communicating with each other. And this opens them up to having deeper conversations about life, their relationship, their individual self, and more.
“Like what they want in the future, how they see love, the importance of trust in relationships, their future plans, and things like that just because they live far away from each other.”
But there’s a caveat to this.
“Just because there might be a more heightened sense of intimacy in the relationship because you are discussing those more intimate and deep topics, there also are some major downfalls when it comes to long distance relationships. I think, most notably, the most important downfall is that you seem to idolize your partner and you don’t acknowledge that they are human. You only see their most positive traits because you are not seeing them every single day.”
So, have deep conversations, but try to remember you are human at the end of the day and full of imperfections that are being hidden by your lack of proximity.
7Have A Plan When You Will Live Together Finally In The Future
This point might sound like the one about knowing where the two of you are headed, but it’s not the same. Because you might be in a long distance relationship with someone who sees you as the potential mother of his children, but if the logistics of your field of work and other nitty-gritties don’t allow either of you to live together ever, your relationship is doomed to end one day.
“For example, if he is stationed in Japan and happens to be in the military for the next 20 years and you have your tenure as a professor at Milbury college, then there is absolutely no way you are going to be together in the future. He lives so far away and you don’t plan on leaving your position at the college, so why even engage in the relationship?” says Lodolce.
And it’s not just about whether the two of you can live together. Sometimes it’s more about who is going to choose to relocate for the other. And would it make sense for both of you to shift to a new place and start together?
So, invest your energy and time into a long distance relationship only when you know the answers to these tough questions.
6Focus On Quality Time, Not Quantity Time
“Most people get this wrong when it comes to long-distance relationships,” says Lodolce. “They think constant contact is the best way to maintain the relationship…that having more quantity of time together is the best way to maintain the relationship. But I don’t believe that relationships are formed through constant texting or constant FaceTiming. I believe that it’s the quality of those interactions that really matter.”
That means, it’s better to be strategic about the kind of texts you send throughout the day, like sending him a picture of the new restaurant you went to for lunch and then sharing a sweet memory from the time you two were last together with a “missing you” later at night, than bombarding his phone with twenty-five messages in the span of an hour, which quickly becomes irritating when he is trying to go about his day.
“I would recommend you wait throughout the day, let the tension build up, and then have that time at night, maybe before going to bed, where you can have that quality time where it’s just you and him talking. Feel free to send him a few strategic texts throughout the day but don’t overdo it.”
5When You Meet Each Other, Have Some Quiet Time Together Too
When you are in a long distance relationship, nothing makes your heart swell with joy than the anticipation of finally meeting your boo after a very long time. Unfortunately, we often tend to overfill our schedule with things to do when that happens.
“When you visit each other, try not to just pack it full of a lot of activities,” says Lodolce. “Learn how to just be with each other. Almost have like a boring day with one another.”
The reason why you should do that is that when you are in a long distance relationship, you often tend to meet each other after very long periods of time. So you naturally tend to fill up your days with as many fun activities as you can. But once you start living together eventually, life automatically returns to its natural pace with boring routines, and you falsely feel that there’s something wrong with your relationship.
“Relationships tend to get boring sometimes…and that’s perfectly okay. What you don’t wanna do is have this expectation that your relationship is going to be the same as it was on these crazy weekend getaways you get to spend while in this long distance relationship.”
4Take Some Time Out For Yourself Every Now And Then
“It’s important to find ways when you’re alone or lonely to shift into a state of love and reconnect with yourself and shift your mood. To get your thoughts more positive, you need rituals or ways to work with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions (some people might do yoga or journal, for example) because your partner isn’t there,” Dr. Paulette Sherman told Marie Claire.
The reason why this is so important when you are in a long distance relationship is that when you take time out for yourself, you essentially learn to cope with the loneliness that you are guaranteed to feel sometime or another when you dearly miss your partner.
And though it might sound counterintuitive to need space when you already are separated by thousands of miles, in reality, the act of regularly taking some time out actually allows you to introspect and separate your thoughts and feelings from those of your partner’s.
This helps you see your conflicts and other issues in a better light and also helps you find the inner wisdom to strengthen your bond once you return from your short sabbath.
Plus, there’s the fact that when you give yourself all your exclusive attention, it helps you nurture yourself and heal wounds that you might have ignored in the past, which turns you into a more attractive and well-rounded human being.
3Have A Life Outside Of The Relationship Too
When you are in a long distance relationship, you can often feel like you need to invest all your free time talking or engaging with your partner since the two of you are not able to have many moments in person. But the problem with this is that in the quest to strengthen your bond, you end up neglecting your own self and needs outside of the relationship.
“The happiest couples are able to maintain hobbies and friends outside of a relationship, and when you’re long-distance, it’s even more important because that person can’t be your whole life if they’re not physically there,” Dr. Sherman told Marie Claire.
The reason why Dr. Sherman cautions against making your relationship “your all” is because when you do that, you condition yourself into becoming dependent on your partner for everything – making you happy, entertaining you, boosting your self-confidence, and picking you up when you fall down. And one person cannot do this for too long because one person cannot take over the role of ten.
So, have a life outside of your relationship. Have strong friends who can boost your confidence when you are down or require aid and can entertain you. Find mentors who can help you deal with the problems you are facing in your workplace. And engage in activities that make you happy.
You and your relationship will both benefit from nurturing your independence.
2Send Snail Mail
If you read this and raised an eyebrow in disbelief, think again. While it may sound incredibly tedious to write a letter, stuff it in an envelope, look for something sticky to close the flap, and then go down to the post office where you have to add stamps and wait for your turn in the queue (even writing that was tiring!), in reality, when your boo finally opens up the envelope, finds your hand-written letter within, and then reads your heartfelt words, his heart will burst open with longing to be near you (based on a true story).
In fact, snail mail gives you the freedom to go as crazy creative as you want!
“We are in constant electronic contact, but that only stimulates our visual and auditory senses,” behavioral scientist, Clarissa Silva told Bustle on the subject. “Although you may not be able to physically be together, sending your partner a card in the mail sprayed with your perfume or cologne will remind your significant other of your scent and will be just as intoxicating.”
Are you taking notes? You better take down this one. It’s so incredibly romantic!
1Show Your Love By Sending Care Packages & Other Romantic Surprises
Care packages full of munchies and other helpful goodies are a rage now. People send them to their college-bound daughters to their transatlantic boyfriends. And why wouldn’t they? It’s the perfect way of letting the one you love know how much you care by sending them a box full of goodies that has sentimental value as much as it is useful.
“If you could send a gift to their house, it’s really exciting,” says Matthew Hussey, bestselling author, dating coach and YouTube personality.
And there’s research to back that claim.
According to a study cited on the Business Insider, couples who do exciting things together tend to be happier in their relationship and remain with each other longer than those couples who have entered a rut with no excitement. Wouldn’t you too if you were having fun with your partner?
So, plan a special package for your boo for his next birthday.
You can fill the box with munchies and other useful goodies but also add in some funny and exciting surprises. Like a card full of kisses you made after wearing your favorite lipstick, a bunch of “open when it’s…” cards that will make him smile and miss you harder when it’s Valentine’s Day or Halloween, and one-half of a couple’s bracelet.
Let’s wrap that last segment up with an aww, shall we?