6 Best Tips to Make Your Long-Distance Relationship Work
Long-distance relationships are all the rage during the pandemic. Not to mention they were pretty popular beforehand. As someone who did long-distance for a year and a half and now lives with her partner, here are the six ways we made it work for us.
Your relationship may be different, but I think you’ll agree with the majority of these tips, if not #6. Feel free to share any other tips you have in the comments.
1. Use FaceTime, Skype, or any virtual video calling service
Not being able to see your partner on a day-to-day basis is tough enough as it is. Don’t make it harder by only using voice calls to communicate. Set up some times where you catch up with each other about your life and hang out.
My partner, M, & I would FaceTime every other day typically and discuss college (me) and work (him). It helped us keep up with how the other person was progressing in life and how they were feeling. Plus, the company at the end of the day was very much appreciated by both parties.
2. Organize visits (ideally with travel split 50/50)
As a college student, I didn’t have as many opportunities to travel as M did. Because of this, he would often be the one traveling to visit every 3–4 months. During my last year of college, I believe he visited me on-campus 3 times.
It was bittersweet because he’d usually only be able to stay for 2 days due to work. One time he lost his phone in a taxi and showed up four hours late after a six-hour day of traveling. I regret not making more of an effort to do some of the traveling myself.
If you can afford to split the plane tickets or gas, do it. But don’t forget about the time your partner spent commuting to you, either. I would usually try to pay more when M visited to balance out his travel time. I’d buy snacks and meal prep items for my tiny dorm room fridge so we didn’t need to go out to restaurants all the time, and I’d occasionally treat at restaurants instead of splitting.
3. Find fun activities to do together virtually
If you’re a gamer, you know what Steam is. M and I would play games quite often, our favorites being Offworld Trading Company and Scythe. Steam is expensive though, and complex for non-gamers. Boardgamearea is a great website to virtually play free games with friends or your partner.
Not into games? Amazon Prime now allows you to have movie watch parties with other users. Other sites have this function as well if you don’t have Prime, or you can Facetime while both watching the same show individually. The point is to find activities you can do with your partner, even if you aren’t in the same location.
4. Make some romantic gestures
I love food. It’s probably my main reason for existing. When I had a rough day, M would order me takeout and have it delivered to my dormitory. Pizza, dumplings, you name it. It really cheered me up.
A romantic gesture doesn’t have to be an item. M & I had a Google Doc called “Future Apartment” and we would work on the list of items together. We discussed baking and cooking tools we wanted, what art to hang on the walls, etc. It was nice to plan for when we’d be together again.
5. Learn to be more independent
Being apart for the majority of the time gives you a chance to have your own life. I’m not saying people who live together don’t have their own lives, but it’s certainly different. Couples tend to share friends. Long-distance couples typically do not.
Sometimes your partner will not be available when you want or need them. I tended to be sad late at night, but M had work early in the morning so I would not disturb him. M (for the most part) learned my class schedule and wouldn’t disturb me when I had night classes or study sessions in the early evening.
Because of our distance and our schedules, we were both okay not talking for multiple days. It wasn’t malicious. We understood our career/education came first and we got it done.
6. Follow through and end the long-distance part
Long-distance is not sustainable, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. These types of relationships are built on the idea that you’ll be able to see your partner after a certain period of time.
How long that period of time lasts is up to both of you, but stick with your agreed time frame. If that time period keeps getting pushed back or there isn’t a specific time in mind, one or both parties may start to lose faith in the longevity of the relationship. It has to be a realistic long-distance relationship.
For M and I, we knew each other for six months before he moved away for a new job. A year and a half of long-distance later I moved in with him after finishing college. We knew the timeline we both wanted and we made it work. There were setbacks that moved our timeline back a couple of months [hello, pandemic], but in the end, it worked out.
Long-distance relationships are painful. I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone, especially if you didn’t have a relationship in-person before going long-distance.
It’s not worth the pain. That’s why suggestion #6 is so important. Do not go into an indefinite long-distance relationship. It isn’t healthy for either of you and frankly, it’s a waste of time if there’s no follow-through.
Forgive the negativity: If you do have a long-distance relationship end in mind, awesome! I hope some of these tips are unique and help you maintain your relationship until you can eventually see each other again, in person. Never underestimate the power of simple gestures.
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