Making Distance Love Work: Tips, Motivation and Quotes for the Time Apart
Long distance relationships are hard. Period. Whether you went from living in the same city, to living apart, or whether you met online and have always lived apart, it can be hard to keep up the connection when you are not in the same place as your significant other. In addition to the problems that plague normal relationships, long distance relationships (aka LDRs) have a whole added set of struggles, as you and your partner try to balance prioritizing your connection to each other with building or maintaining a separate life in a different place.
While there are many challenges to LDRs, they are a fact of life. We often can’t choose where we live because of external circumstances like school, jobs and family obligations. Many couples are forced to test their connection through unideal circumstances all the time. And many couple’s relationships are able to thrive despite the distance. Here are some practical and creative tips to make the distance love work with your partner:
Good communication is a huge part of any relationship, but it is especially important for long distance relationships where verbal communication is the only way you can connect to your partner. Even if you were fairly good at communicating prior to your time apart, you will likely have to relearn how to effectively communicate once you become a long distance couple. Long distance communication requires lots of patience, honesty and even creativity to keep things meaningful and fun with your partner. Successful long distance relationships don’t look at communication as a chore, they reframe it as something to look forward to throughout the day.
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A lot of successful long distance couples are able to reframe the distance as something positive. There are a variety of reasons that cause couples to go long distance, often related to school or job opportunities. Focusing on these things, and using your time apart to further your education or career goals, or to even learn new hobbies or skills, will help you view the distance in a positive way. Furthermore, actively choosing a positive mindset about the distance (whenever possible), can help you feel like you have a degree in control over the situation, which can actually make you feel better about being apart.
Scheduling things like a virtual movie date, or other virtual activities can add some normalcy to your relationship. Plus, putting things on the calendar will give you something to look forward to during a long week. Even if you can’t be together in person, it’s important to keep up the tradition of date night when you are long distance. Prioritizing time together, even if it is time spent virtually, will help you stay emotionally connected to one another. It will also show your partner that they are still the most important person in your life even if you aren’t together. Different streaming platforms like Netflix allow you to stream movies or TV shows simultaneously with someone else, making it a super easy option for date nights. Plenty of other platforms exist that you and your partner can use to stay connected, despite the distance.
Don’t focus too much on planning
While it’s good to have some scheduled time on the books, it’s also important to keep up the spontaneity in your relationship, even if it’s long distance. Sending a text when your partner is on your mind, or giving them a quick call at a random time of the day will help keep your conversations fresh and less planned than if you only ever talk at scheduled times. In addition to spontaneous communication, it can also be fun to send little gifts every once in a while (especially if this aligns with your love languages as a couple!). The gifts don’t need to be extravagant, just something to surprise your partner, and show that they are important to you.
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Embrace snail mail
Yes, there is a lot of great technology out there that makes long distance connection super convenient and doable. And, yes, you and your partner should take advantage of all this awesome technology. But, it’s also super fun to embrace things like letter writing as a form of communication. Letter writing got long distance couples through periods of distance for decades and even centuries, so what’s the harm in giving it a shot? Send your partner a romantic letter! Or a steamy one! Receiving things in the mail is always a fun surprise, and the letter medium sometimes lets you express things that you can’t over text message.
Give your partner space
As important as it is to communicate with your long distance partner, it’s also very important to give them space. Successful long distance couples are couples that establish clear boundaries early on in the relationship, and stick to these boundaries. In a long distance relationship, it’s important to discuss how often you want to communicate, and what kind of communication is off the table. Some couples are perfectly happy to be texting constantly all day every day. Other couples might hate texting and prefer check-ins every once in a while or a simple phone call at the end of the day. Some couples want to spend every Friday watching the newest episode of their favorite show together. Other couples have separate Friday night plans in whatever city they are in. Establishing what your boundaries are as a long distance couple, and sticking to those boundaries will help you feel like you have the space you need as an individual in the relationship.
It’s super hard to be away from your significant other, especially if you are in a new city and don’t have many other people to connect with. Instead of wallowing in the fact that you are alone, or after a little period of wallowing (we get it, sometimes you just need to wallow), find activities to do so that you can stay busy in your free time. Or, pour yourself into work or school so that your time spent apart can be super productive. Keeping yourself busy with academics, work or even a new social life can help you stay positive and avoid dwelling on your long distance situation.
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A great way to help you through the distance in an LDR is to plan periodic trips together. Try visiting your partner in the city they live in. Or host them where you live. Showing each other your respective lives will help you both feel more connected even when you are apart. Meeting friends, seeing where they work, visiting their favorite coffee shop can help you contextualize their life and feel more a part of it even when you are not with them. You can also plan trips to places you have always wanted to visit as a couple. These trips don’t need to be lavish, even if you are on a budget you can still find ways to meet up with your partner and break up the LDR. Find a camping spot halfway between the two of you. Rent an Airbnb on an off weekend. Planning trips far enough in advance can keep the travel and lodging costs to a minimum, making trips super doable. In addition to just being a fun thing to do, having a trip marked on the calendar also gives you and your partner something to look forward to, which can help your time apart pass much more quickly. Psychologists say that more than half the benefit of a vacation is the anticipation of the trip. Play into this fact (and save some money!) by planning trips far in advance so that you have something to look forward to as a couple.
Have an end in sight
Long distance is not a permanent state for a relationship. When you and your partner decide to go long distance, you should make sure that there is an end in sight. Are you waiting until one partner finishes school? Or until one partner can find a job in the other’s city? Deciding on a general timeline whether it’s ASAP or after four years of schooling, can help you both stay grounded throughout the course of the distance. It’s also important to have an idea for how you will manage to end up in the same city. Will you both look for jobs in the same area? Are you willing to quit your job to move to where your partner is? Are you willing to live in a random place so that you can be together? Talking about these things will ensure that you and your partner are on the same page, and both committed to making a reunification happen.
Don’t force a reunification
While there needs to be an end in sight for your long distance status, it’s important not to force a reunification before it’s ready. If you both give up everything to move somewhere together, you risk putting too much stress on yourself and your relationship. It’s important to have some degree of stability whether it’s a job lined up, acceptance in a graduate program, etc. so that you are not starting off in a new place in a state of chaos. After time apart, you and your partner may feel frantic to reunite, but being methodical about reuniting will set your relationship up for more success.
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