11 Pieces of Advice for the Long-Distance Couple

“Long-distance relationships are hard but they’re also incredible. If you can love, trust, respect and support each other from a distance then you will be unstoppable once you’re physically together.” - Anonymous 

“LDRs” or long-distance relationships are difficult. However, they also can add new dimensions to a relationship that brings some couples closer together. The following tips are for the better cultivation of a fulfilling, special, and long-lasting LDR. 

All of the following tips have manifested from problems that have arisen within my own LDR. I go to Baylor University in Waco, TX while my significant other studies at the University of Virginia. However, remember that every relationship is unique. What works for me may not be the perfect practice for your love story.

  1. 1. Set goals and expectations for your relationship that both people are comfortable with

    Before you embark on a long-distance relationship, sit down with your significant other and have a conversation about your expectations and long-term goals. You may think that you know everything about your partner, but you could be surprised by their responses. By taking the time to discuss, you will ensure that you are on the same page before you take on physically separate lives. Decide whether the two of you will be exclusive, discuss how often you expect to call and establish long-term goals. This will set a precedent of communication which will be essential later on. 

  2. 2. Communicate

    This may seem obvious, but a breakdown in communication is often cited as the reason for the crumbling of long-distance relationships. This doesn’t mean you have to memorize your partner’s exact schedule, but communicating your feelings and expectations throughout the relationship will help maintain a healthy platform for problems to be resolved. 

  3. 3. Show affection

    You are no longer physically together, so it may seem impossible to show affection. However, making the other person feel loved is no less important. Little compliments can go a long way. Your sweet words of encouragement can act as a substitute for a warm hug. 

  4. 4. It's not going to be perfect every day

    There have been days when my relationship has seemed healthy and fulfilling, and other moments have arisen where I feel emotionally drained and uneasy about where we stand. Ultimately, long-distance relationships, just like any relationship, have good days and bad days. There will be days when you can feel every mile between the two of you, and the hours when you are just happy to be together. Expect a rollercoaster, and do not be afraid of fear or confusion. Use those moments as an opportunity to communicate your feelings and work through problems. 

  5. 5. Have date nights

    This is my personal favorite way to keep an LDR alive. Reserving a night to spend with your special person. This will give them the assurance that you are devoted and invested in your relationship. Date nights can take many forms and will vary according to the interests of the couple. 

     

    Some ideas?

    -Movie Night!!! Simply choose a movie you both can enjoy, make popcorn in your respective microwaves and watch a film together. Logistically, the method I prefer includes a facetime, so you can see the person's physical reactions to the proceedings of the film. However, to avoid awkward feedback you usually have to each mute yourselves. 

    -Play solitaire. My boyfriend and I enjoy card games. To get our fix, we individually play single solitaire and see who can stack the most cards. If you do not know how to play solitaire...you should learn. 

    -Make the same meal, and eat it together on Facetime. 

    -Make origami, or simply craft together! 

    -Read a book together. Designate a reader and enjoy the time together by sharing in a story. 

  6. 6. Plan calls

    You are going to quickly develop a life outside of your sweetheart, and they will too. This is healthy. Never deny yourself an experience or meeting new friends on account of your S.O. The best way to exercise this is by planning exactly when you two are going to call. Whether this happens every day or once a week, make sure both parties are on the same page so that you can be fully present when you talk. This also honors everyone’s schedule and allows you to fully engage in your own life rather than constantly wondering when he or she is going to call so you can FINALLY talk. This is just another way you can show the other person love and let them know they are an important aspect of your life while still affording them the room to truly be present in their own schedule. 

  7. 7. Trade and share physical objects

    When you are separated, having a physical reminder of the other person can be a source of comfort. Put your perfume on your shirt and gift it to them. Swap sweatshirts or stuffed animals. Whatever it is, these small objects can mean a lot when you are lonely. 

  8. 8. Share experiences

    By sharing media you have enjoyed, you can grow and learn together. Plus, it gives you a topic of conversation which places you on a similar plain. Send your S.O. a podcast that you particularly liked, or read a book together. Sharing experiences can take many forms depending on your similar interests. 

    Recently my significant other and I have begun a weekly devotional to grow both as a couple and as followers of Christ. Taking time each week to pray, discuss, and evaluate our relationship has proven incredibly helpful. We have been using Chelsea Damon’s Together with Christ. Plus, it is another shared experience. Throughout the week, my boyfriend has often referenced our Sunday evening discussion to bring me encouragement and peace while challenging me to be a better partner and follower of Jesus. 

  9. 9. When you do end up in the same place, go make memories

    When you are finally in the same town, it is easy to sit around a snuggle all day to supplement the drought of physical closeness that you have both been experiencing over the last couple of weeks or months. Instead of lounging, use this precious time to go out and make memories. Recreate your first date, go on a hike, or hang out with mutual friends.

  10. 10. Do not only rely on technology

    Technology is amazing, especially facetime! Being able to not only hear but also see your loved one is an incredible platform to stimulate healthy communication. However, sometimes being creative can spice things up and show your boyfriend or girlfriend just how much you care. Send them a hand-written letter or a holiday-decorated package by mail. Postcards are always an option.

  11. 11. TRUST

    Your S.O. is going to be meeting new people. Allow this to be an opportunity to trust them to be faithful to you and keep the integrity of your relationship. 

In the end, I have found that my LDR has produced a supportive relationship built on trust and communication. However, our unique relationship has also allowed me to grow as an individual and cultivate my own life and friendships. Building my own autonomy has given me the physical and metaphorical space to exist as a full human being. After all, you are the only person who you have to live the rest of your life with. Make sure you can stand yourself.