When you and your partner don’t live in the same location—or even have the same time zones—maintaining a romantic connection can be a challenge. But many long distance relationships make it over the long haul, despite the geographic separation.
To make a long distance relationship work, you and your other half need to be committed to your union and stay on the same page about where your partnership is headed. Whether you’re already in a long distance relationship, or contemplating one, here’s what you need to know to help your coupledom really thrive.
Pros and Cons of a Long Distance Relationship
There are clear perks and drawbacks of having a long distance dating relationship. On the con side, long distance couples obviously miss being physically near each other and getting to see each other in real life whenever they want. Aside from the longing factor, however, these relationships can be more prone to trust issues and lack of connection if both people aren’t willing to do the emotional work and stay loyal in their commitment to each other.
On the pro side, however, long distance couples have a lot more freedom than those in geographically close relationships. There’s more of a chance to maintain an individual life outside of your relationship, whether that comes in the form of maintaining hobbies or spending time with friends without your partner present.
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And it is true that distance can make the heart grow fonder. Long distance couples need to really be into each other in order to want to maintain and grow their partnership. Their different zip codes also encourage traveling to meet in fun places, which can keep the relationship feeling spontaneous and exciting.
Important Traits for Successful Long Distance Relationships
Once you’ve committed to your partner to date over distance, you may have to be more mindful of your relationship and how it functions in order for your union to stay happy and healthy. Long distance relationships work best when they have the following characteristics:
More than anything, a long distance relationship requires dedication, both with your time and through emotional connection. It’s important to set aside time for each other, whether it’s planning trips to meet up or to talk on the phone. When you feel connected, you stay connected.
Long distance dating partners need to be able to have faith in each other in order to make a relationship work. Trust is everything, especially since you won’t be together when you’re each going out with friends and just going about your daily lives. You must believe that you’re both committed to your relationship, otherwise your time together may be spent managing conflict. All relationships need trust in order to make it over the long haul but long distance relationships especially.
Having alone time and the ability to maintain your social and personal relationships is one of the big pluses of long distance relationships. Giving each other the space (and, again, trust!) to have a life outside of each other will only make your bond stronger.
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You also have to be willing to travel solo to see the other person, which is another way independence factors in. One person shouldn’t be doing all the travel in order to make real life meet-ups happen.
Strong communication skills
Across the miles, you need to be able to connect and provide emotional support. This means that you need great communication skills—not only is it important to be able to express yourself clearly through email, phone and text but you should each work on expressing your feelings and bringing up tough topics when needed so you can maintain honesty, build trust and increase your emotional connection. If you can’t find the right words, you can find inspiration in love quotes or dating quotes to help you. What matters is that you express yourself, even if what you say isn’t perfect on the first try.
Tips for Making a Long Distance Relationship Work
In addition to the key traits you’ll need to make your relationship as strong as possible, there are some things you can do to ensure that your relationship thrives. Work with your significant other to have the necessary conversations about the following and help each other be the best partners you can be.
Check in regularly
The emotional wellness of your relationship is key for keeping your bond strong. Touch base regularly about how you’re each feeling about the distance and what you can each do to be there for the other person. This ensures that the lines of communication remain open.
Set clear expectations
Be sure that you are on the same page about what you can expect from each other. This means setting clear expectations for when and how often you should talk to and see each other in real life, as well as boundaries for personal relationships outside of your bond. This helps make sure that you understand each partner’s behavior and won’t feel in the dark about why someone is calling all the time or not enough. If you set boundaries and expectations you’ll feel more secure.
Share the relationship heavy lifting
One partner can’t always be calling first, making all the travel plans or doing most of the checking in. Make sure that you both are taking on the work of the relationship, especially emotionally. If you’re always the one initiating conversations or meet-ups it may be time to reevaluate if this long distance relationship is really working for you.
Get comfortable with phone calls and video chatting
While texting is fun, it doesn’t fully utilize modern technology—and it can’t be the only way you connect with your long distance partner. Spend time each week doing a video call (or a few) so you can see each other, even if it’s not in person.
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These calls don’t need to be elaborate virtual dates: You might even Facetime or Zoom while doing the same things at home, like chores. (Or if you’re both college students you can even do homework or work on papers together.) Just hanging out together will bring you closer.
Meet where you live
While it’s fun to meet up in different destinations, make a point to visit each other in the locations where you live. This allows you to spend time together in real life, not just when you’re in vacation mode. Doing this can also give you a chance to establish family relationships with each other’s parents and meet each other’s friends.
Make each other a clear priority
Finally, both people need to show the other that the relationship is the priority. For instance, one person shouldn’t always be canceling or changing plans to video chat when opportunities to hang with friends in real life come up. You both have to show each other that your partnership matters. It’s also important to make sure you’ve both on the same page about where you see the relationship going in the future, whether it’s toward marriage or more of a wait-and-see sort of situation. You should both be clear on where you each stand on this.
Going the Distance
You may be geographically separated but you and your long distance partner can still have a romantic, happy relationship if you’re both willing to commit to each other and put in the time and effort needed to maintain your bond. Remember that all the little things you do for each other over your long distance really do add up—daily affirmations of your love and sweet surprises and moments along the way will help your relationship last.
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