According to a study published in the Journal of Communication, people in long-distance relationships were more likely to share meaningful thoughts and feelings with their partners than those who were not. Apparently, couples in long-distance relationships tend to idealize their partners’ behaviors, which leads to a greater sense of intimacy. However, being apart is definitely trying at times, even for couples with a relatively strong foundation.
Below, I have compiled edited excerpts from people that highlight the tenets of maintaining a successful long-distant relationship.
Tip 1: Be ready to work twice as hard as you did before.
“I met my boyfriend when I was in high school. In the fall he left to attend college in a year-round program in Utah. I stayed behind and finished up high school and then attended a local college. Even though we were young, we knew our relationship was the one worth fighting for so we were determined to get through those years. We have now been together a total of 12 years and have been married for the last five.”
What this couple learned is one of the foundations of a successful long-distance relationship. Long distance couples need to work toward having a very strong, solid base in their relationship Be open, honest, and trusting. Take the time to figure out how and when is best to communicate with each other. Work at making each other feel special, even without seeing each other. All the things you work on during a normal relationship will need extra effort for in a long-distance relationship.
Tip 2: Establish some ground rules about when you’ll see each other.
“My husband and I did long distance for five and a half years in total, with me working and going to school in Toronto and him in school in Florida. We had a rule to never go more than six weeks without seeing one another in person and we pretty much stuck to that. We were still living apart when we got married and it took one year after we were married for my green card to arrive, at which point I moved to the states.
Tip 3: Call and text each other throughout the day.
Don’t wait to talk with your partner at the end of the day when you are tired. Make your partner part of your daily life.
“My wife and I have had to do the long-distance thing twice in our relationship. When we first met she lived about an hour away in San Jose and I lived in San Francisco. After we got married I was working in San Francisco and she was in Los Angeles and we only got a few days a month to see each other. We learned that you have to call and text each other during the day and share what’s going on.”
Tip 4: Don’t forget to schedule regular online video chats.
It is really essential that you and your partner have a schedule for when you’ll talk. Today we are fortunate that we have so many different modes of contact these days, but texting is not enough to keep a long-distance relationship going. To maintain a strong relationship, you need to talk on the phone, but preferably something like Skype, as often as you can.
Tip 5: Try to think of the big picture.
“My partner and I met in university and had been together for about three and a half years before he had to leave Nigeria for his graduate degree in London. We were apart for about two years. We had to constantly remind ourselves that the distance was for a short while and as we really wanted to be together, we had to make it work. This sort of gives a perspective on things and helps sail through any difficulties. This was really important in the grand scheme of things. It also helped in our future plans, as I was more inclined to go London for my own graduate program, so that we could be together.”
Tip 6: Celebrate everything.
“My husband I had had known each other in college. He left for the Navy, and then we started dating. At that point, we were a few states away. Right after we became engaged, he was deployed overseas for a year. What we learned is this: Celebrate everything, even if you can’t be together in person. Life is too short not to and that’s especially true when you’re in a long-distance relationship.”
Tip 7: Get a credit card that earns airline miles.
“I was located in New York City while my husband Matt was in Miami Beach. We had a commuter relationship for two years. I was able to get complimentary flights almost every other month this way from my American Express card. Make sure to pick a card with an airline component so you can rack up the points
Tip 8: Don’t worry if every visit isn’t perfect.
There can be a lot pressure on a couple when they visit each other. Do you hang out with your partner and friends in a social setting or stay home to have one-on-one time? Does your family want to spend time with you and your partner? Does one of you need to work or study during the visit? Is there a big conversation hovering like an elephant in the room and do you have that talk face to face, when you have limited time together, or over the phone later? Some trips will be full of great memories and carefree times, and some will be full of fighting over big or small issues and that’s OK! ‘Real’ relationships are full of ups and downs and long-distance relationships are no exception.”
Marriage & Family Therapist and Registered Addiction Specialist