We've all heard that one saying, "Distance makes the heart grow fonder." And that may be true, but that doesn't make long distance relationships any easier. And this past year has made long distance relationships a necessary reality for some couples. Sometimes it can't be avoid it, but you can survive it and maybe even come out stronger. Here's how:
Before you start...
Set some ground rules and expectations. Determine how you'd like to keep in touch and how often. Do you want to set up a scheduled time for things like video chats or calls? Do you expect to call every morning and night? What boundaries do you want to enforce?
Discuss your level of commitment. Talk about goals. What are you hoping will come out of enduring long distance? What's the end goal? And the end date? Mapping all this out and answering these questions will keep you and your partner focused and positive.
Also, when you separate, give each other a memento. It's nice to have a physical reminder of your partner. This could be a clothing item, a stuff animal, a hand-written letter, a framed photo -- anything that you find will help your connection and have meaning for you and your partner.
Utilize the tools you have.
Technology is going to be your best friend. Can you imagine years ago when we didn't have the technology we now have? Couples in long distance relationships had to rely on just writing letters. Or if there were phones, they could only do calls. There was no texting, no FaceTime.
We're fortunate enough to have so many options for communicating. Take advantage of all the different apps and services. Use FaceTime, but also try apps like Marco Polo or Snapchat.
Don't replace video chats, but add in other fun and refreshing ways to communicate. Try just sending photos. Or just send audio clips. Maybe even shake it up a lot and send a letter or postcard. Give your partner something to keep and revisit that has your own handwriting.
Do things together while being apart.
There are loads of activities that you and your partner can do together even though you aren't in person. This can make you feel more connected and give you something to talk about and do as well as another reason to check in. Here are a few ideas:
- Read a book together. You can read separately and discuss together or even read chapters over the phone or over video chat.
- Follow an exercise plan or goal. Train for 5k and run it at the same time. Or follow the same at-home workouts. If you both have Apple Watches you can challenge one another to a fitness challenge.
- Cook together. You can cook at the same time with video chat or give each other recipes to try and report back on how they went.
- Listen to the same playlist. Make a playlist together or each make a playlist for each other and listen separately. Then you can get together and talk about it.
- Do a puzzle race. Purchase the same puzzle for each other and see who can finish the fastest.
- Play online games together. You can play a lot of games online with each other and can even use apps like Discord to chat live or you can call each other. These games can be through apps, websites, or through gaming systems.
- Watch a show or movie together. You can either both put it on at the same time and call each other or you can use a browser extension like Teleparty that allow you to watch something together and chat at the same time.
Set up a visit.
If possible, plan an in-person visit. Give yourself something to look forward to and enjoy planning it together. Make sure not to over plan your visit. Leave time to enjoy being reunited in person.
Don't put your life on hold.
It may be easy to isolate yourself and be miserable when you aren't actively with or talking to your partner. Try to avoid doing this. Don't put your life on hold while you and your partner are distanced. Learn to enjoy being alone. Look at what you can gain from this time apart. Can you pick up any new hobbies or revive old ones?
In most relationships, you'll rarely be with your partner 24/7 so it is important to be able to function alone and be happy. It's okay to be happy when you are apart as long as you aren't happier without them. You don't need to be miserable the entire time.
Trust each other and have hope.
When you're apart it's easy to have doubts creep in. It's easy to get paranoid and worried that you may be "out of sight, out of mind" or that you really don't know what your partner is doing while they are apart. Try not to worry (I know, easier said than done). Trust your partner, your relationship, and your commitment. Remind yourself about the conversations you had before you started, the goals, the commitments, the hopes.
It may feel like a long time right now, but if things work out, you and your partner may look back on their period and feel like it was just a short blip in your time together. It may make you stronger individually and together and if it doesn't, then it's just one more thing you endured together.