6 Tips on Maintaining Long Distance Relationships
It is popularly believed (or feared) that long distance relationships never work out. But sometimes absence does make the heart grow fonder, and people learn to take their partners less for granted when they’re not always around. It’s also worth noting that some couples far away from each other feel closer than couples who live with each other, because they’re more willing to communicate their problems openly with one another. It all boils down to one word: effort. Whether you’ve been in a long distance relationship for a while now, or you’re just about to enter a long distance relationship, we want to provide some insights that can help you when you experience difficulties and uncertainty. Psych2Go shares with you 6 tips on maintaining long distance relationships:
1. Give them a personal gift to hold onto.
Before the two of you depart, give each other something you can hold onto and remember one another by. A few examples you may be inspired by (but are not limited to) include exchanging night lights, stuffed animals, jewelry, hoodies, or mugs. What you decide to give your partner doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Instead, focus on how the object has served to bring meaning in your life.
What story does the object hold? Did it happen to bring the two of you together? Or is it a special memory the two of you have shared? The more thought you put into your gift, the more touched your partner will be, because it’s a sign that you’ll miss them when they go away.
2. Set routines and learn about each other’s schedules.
Time zones can be tricky, but learn to appreciate the differences. This can teach you the value of patience and remind you that relationships don’t thrive or grow from moments of instant gratification. Once you and your partner get settled in and adjusted to your new lifestyles, let each other know about your schedules and routines. This is your chance to learn how to prioritize one another! Depending on how much of a difference your time zone is, you may need to take turns accommodating to each other’s availability to set up Skype dates or phone calls, whether that means one of you waking up a few hours earlier each week or one person staying up a little longer. It may sound daunting, but once the two of you figure out a rhythm that works for the both of you, the rest will set sail.
3. Build trust and try not to jump to conclusions or assume the worst.
Life can be unpredictable, so sometimes things come up, such as family emergencies, working overtime, or illness that may interrupt your usual communication patterns. Rather than worrying about whether your partner is cheating on you or if they’ve grown bored of the relationship and may be spending more time with their friends, know that there’s no actual proof or evidence to back up those anxious thoughts. Build trust with your partner and ask each other how you’re feeling, rather than bottling up insecurity and making the walls bigger. It’s about trust just as much as being open and vulnerable with each other. Getting answers directly from your partner is better than over-analyzing and filling in those gaps yourself.
4. It’s not about how often you talk to each other; instead, focus on quality communication.
Consistent communication is important when the two of you are apart from each other, especially when the physical aspect of the relationship is absent. But too much of it can also backfire and leave the two of you feeling smothered or burnt out. Rather than texting each other every hour of the day, find balance and moderation, and focus on the quality of your conversations instead of how frequently you two of you talk. You may come to find that the more you talk to each other, the more you may end up talking about the same thing in circles, rather than delving into a meaningful conversation that makes you appreciate each other’s intellect, ideas, and perspectives.
5. Make time to see each other, but know that every visit may not be ideal, and that’s okay.
When you visit each other, you may want to make the best out of your time together and plan to do exciting things, but we’re all human, so allow room for flexibility instead of perfection. There may be times when you’re exhausted from traveling back and forth and just want to stay in and watch a movie with your partner. Or perhaps there will be a delay in your flight that may bleed into your dinner reservations.
Doing fun activities and bonding with your partner is important, but sometimes it’s good to just play things by ear and go with the flow. That way, if expectations aren’t always met, then disappointment won’t have to follow. Remember, it’s about the company you’re with, and not necessarily what the two of you do.
6. Embrace the challenges together.
Long distance relationships are difficult, but don’t let the challenges tear you apart. Insead, embrace them together. Sometimes, your insecurities may get the best of you. Consequently, you may believe the two of you would be better off breaking up and meeting new people. But, take a step back and think about why you held on for so long in the first place. Whether the two of you are apart because you’re going to different schools or because of a job promotion, know that the long distance is only temporary, and that you’re working on yourselves before the two of you can be together again.
It’s a common misconception to think that in order for relationships to work, one person has to sacrifice their needs and desires for the other in order to be together. In reality, though, this is how relationships often break apart when people feel stifled and can’t grow together. Never lose sight of the bigger picture, and don’t give up.
Are you in a long distance relationship? What are the challenges you go through? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
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Nigel, K. (2018). 21 Best Tips on Making a Long Distance Relationship Work. Lifehack. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
Tower, R. (2016, December 11). 10 Ways to Make a Long-Distance Love Relationship Work. Psychology Today. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
Wong, B. (2017, March 15). What Every Person in a Long-Distance Relationship Should Know. HuffPost. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
what about constantly apart? or when the relationship has a internet based start?
Do you mean for couples who met online?
Hi Vindalin, thanks for reading. ♥ When you say “constantly apart,” how often does that translate to? My boyfriend and I met online, too, but we used to live 45 minutes away from each other. Do you and your partner operate in different time zones? If so, I think somewhere down the road as the two of you get older, and have spent more time getting to know each other, then you can talk about the possibility of moving in together.
I’m not in a long-distance relationship but I’ll be pretty soon… I’m leaving for a year before coming back to my girlfriend and hopefully moving in together! We’re still in high school and I’m only in the US as an exchange student, but she really made me reconsider my whole life. I really want her to be a part of it, even if I haven’t known her for long. Do you think it’s dumb to think that? I mean we’re still so young, what if it doesn’t work out?
Hi Didi, thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts with us. ♥ I’m glad to hear about you and your girlfriend moving in together once you come back a year later! That’s an exciting chapter! 🙂 I recently did the same on New Year’s with my boyfriend.
It sounds like your girlfriend made a great impact on your life ever since you came to the U.S. as an exchange student. You just never know what happens. 🙂 It’s not dumb at all if you guys have great chemistry and a strong bond. I think teenagers and young adults get a bad rep for being naive or overly optimistic when it comes to relationships, but adults tend to become very routine-like and forget about what it means to take risks.
As long as you and your girlfriend communicate about your plans and work on those goals together, I think anything is possible. If you see yourself growing with her, I don’t see why not take the chance and go for it. 🙂 Best of luck. ♥
Thank you for this Catherine Huang, I had the same as Didi. Mine is so soonest as next month and it’s so sad to think that I am having trouble with the what if’s right now.
Aww, you’re welcome Johann! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts with us! I think it’s okay to be a little nervous and struggle with what-if’s. It shows that you will miss your partner when you guys enter your long-distance relationship. But, it’s going to be okay. If you haven’t already, talking about concerns you may have with your partner before you guys depart is highly encouraged. I think it’ll help you guys keep each other in line and it’ll reinforce the safe space you guys have to talk to each other about things that bother you is important. Best of luck. ♥
I’m in a long-distance relationship. She lives in Australia and I’m in Canada. The time difference is HUGE(anywhere between 17-19hrs depending on daylight saving time). We talk on Facebook and Skype, for the most part, nightly. Absence has definitely made our hearts grow fonder. I don’t take her for granted because I know she won’t be there forever. I tell her, constantly, how much I love her. We got married(4+ yrs. now) and I have not regretted a day of it.
I’m trying to emigrate to Aus. and be w/her. Paperwork is a hold-up. LONG story.
Communication is HUGE!! Talk to your significant other and let her/him/them know that you’re thinking of them. All the best to EVERYONE in a l/d relationship.
Hi David, thanks so much for reading and sharing your story with us! Wow, that is a huge time difference! But, I’m glad you find time to talk to each other. The perks of technology and social media! 🙂 And congratulations on being married 4 years now! That’s incredibly inspiring and AMAZING!
I agree when you say communication is important. I think there’s always something couples can learn from one another, whether it’s learning to be more direct or honest, and not bottling so much of what we think. Even body language becomes something we learn to read over time as we get to know our partners better.
I’m sorry to hear the paperwork is holding you guys up. Ah! It reminds me of the movie Like Crazy, which is a great film for people in long-distance relationships.
I hope it gets sorted out, so the two of you can be together soon. ♥ Best of luck with everything, and thank you for being so supportive in general to everyone else who is also in a long-distance relationship. Your kindness and positivity matters. 🙂