Believe me, I know a thing or two about how to make long-distance work. My husband and I started dating right before he left for college, and he was really cute and nice, and I guess he also thought I was cute and nice, so we decided to make our relationship work long distance. We spent seven years apart, including our first year of marriage, and even though it was difficult, it was worth the struggle.
So, here are 7 tried-and-true tips from an LDR veteran:
1. You don’t have to be madly in love to try a long-distance relationship.
My husband and I went on three official dates before we jumped into a long-distance relationship. He officially asked me to be his girlfriend two nights before he left for school. I learned from experience that you don’t have to be “all in” to try an LDR. Being exclusive usually prevents hurt feelings, but it’s totally possible to long-distance-date someone you just think is nice and cute.
2. Find a good communication style that works well for both of you.
My husband and I found that texting throughout the day was the best way for us to stay connected. However, other friends in LDRs say that texting didn’t work for them at all. One of my friends called her boyfriend every night and didn’t text him at all during the day. Another friend Skyped her boyfriend several times throughout the day. These are all perfectly valid ways to stay in touch. You just need to find which method works best works for your relationship.
3. Prioritize in-person visits when possible.
Because my husband only lived an hour-and-a-half away, we saw each other frequently. We tried to see each other every other weekend, if possible. Sometimes, these frequent visits were inconvenient and difficult, but it was important for us to see each other. Obviously, this may not be possible if you and your partner live further apart, but time together in-person is crucial for any relationship. Try to prioritize time together as much as you can to keep your relationship strong.
4. Don’t put your life on pause whenever you’re not with your significant other.
It’s extremely easy for long-distance to become defined by a dynamic of missing out on other things to make time for your partner. But, it’s important to fight that inclination and balance your own personal development with the relationship’s development. You and your significant other can build a strong, mature bond together while also learning to spend time apart as individual people.
5. Allow your relationship to change.
When you first started dating your partner, you may have developed certain rituals to help you both connect. The thing is, if the relationship is going well, those rituals will gradually become less important over time. You need to allow room for your relationship to grow and change. As you feel more comfortable with your partner, you will trust them to make time for you without scheduling every moment of your time together.
6. Make an effort to understand and appreciate your partner’s interests.
This is solid dating advice in general, but it’s especially important for LDRs. Let the other person know that you’re interested in who they are outside of your relationship. Unlike relationships in which you see your partner daily, long-distance lovers can’t simply engage in each other’s interests and hobbies together. You may feel like there’s not enough time to catch up on how your significant other is doing and hear about their interests, but find ways to make time to find out what makes them tick.
7. Don’t try to prove people wrong.
The moment you start including other people in your relationship, you’ve got a problem. This is a common issue for long-distance couples, because everyone loves to share why it will never work. However, trying to prove those people wrong can become a defining feature of your relationship. If you notice that you spend too much time defending your relationship, take a step back and investigate your feelings. Are you insecure in the relationship, or do you have some boundaries to sort out? Are you just proud that you’ve made it through tough times, or are you using false confidence to avoid confrontations that could cause tough times? Your relationship cannot grow to its full potential if it revolves around others.
Long-distance relationships can work, and I’ve lived to tell the tale! I could have used some of these tips in my own LDR, and I’m sure others who make it work long distance have advice, too. I’m eternally grateful to finally be with my husband, but I wouldn’t trade our time as a long-distance couple for the world.