10 Tips for Managing a Long-Distance Relationship

Are you thinking about starting a long-distance relationship? Or perhaps you’re currently in one? Being long-distance can certainly bring many challenges to your relationship, but here are some points you can consider to make things easier!

1. Talk about your starting point and expectations.

Some relationships are long-distance to begin with, and some become long-distance after years of living together or close to each other. What you need to consider depends on your starting point, but especially if your relationship is new, and you’re still getting to know each other, it’s good to make sure you share somewhat similar expectations. You may need to consider things like exclusivity, how often you can expect to see each other, or how long you’re prepared to be apart.

2. Talk about what you expect from long-distance communication

To avoid feeling either neglected or a bit clingy, it’s good to share an understanding about how closely you’re going to keep in touch. How often do you want to Skype? Do you normally respond to each other’s messages in a couple of hours, or in a couple of days? Are you going to call spontaneously or schedule your calls in advance? How committed are you to these schedules? What is an acceptable reason to cancel? Of course, if you naturally find a good rhythm of communication, you may not need to talk, but especially if problems arise it’s good to have a chat – communication is key.

3. Furthermore, recognize the challenges of online communication

Remember that Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype etc. aren’t merely media of saying the same things you would say face-to-face, but a different world of communication, with its own rules and complications. Don’t read too much into your partner’s messages, because misunderstandings easily occur when you can’t see their face or hear their tone of voice. And if you do end up having an argument on Facebook, don’t hesitate to touch that “call” button and sort things out by talking instead of typing – it’s usually easier.

4. Find things you can do together

Sharing things you both like is a nice way of spending time together, and there are lots of things you can do “together” even though you’re apart – read the same books, watch the same movies (at the same time if you want to comment while watching), play games, or whatever interests you both!

5. Consider sending snail mail

These days it’s so easy to communicate online in a variety of ways, but it can still be a nice surprise to receive letters, cards or photos by mail. Sending gifts can be expensive, but there are also many small gifts that fit in an envelope. However, if snail mail isn’t your thing, don’t waste your money on it – do whatever works for you!

6. Be open about your feelings, whether you can rationalize them or not

If you’re having negative feelings that you know are probably unreasonable, such as jealousy that has no grounds, it can still be good to tell your partner about them. Besides making you feel better, honesty and openness help your partner understand you. They also help you build trust, which is not always easy in a long-distance relationship. Just let them know you aren’t blaming them (unless you are), but simply want to share. Furthermore, don’t try to rationalize something you can’t honestly justify with reason, but admit it’s just the way you feel. It’s not always easy, but try to recognize both of your strengths and weaknesses. 

7. Set short- and long-term goals, and feed the positive energy

Long-term goals, for example moving in together, are important for knowing where you’re headed, and short-term goals, such as your next visit, help you get there and make your time apart easier. Especially if you’re long-distance for many years, don’t think too much about how long it will be until the long-distance part ends, because that may bring you down. Instead, focus on how to make the best of your time apart.

8. Cultural differences? Keep your eyes and mind open.

It can be very hard to let go of some ways of acting and thinking that are very deeply ingrained in you. Especially if you are from different countries, you may encounter very subtle cultural differences you don’t even recognize as such, for example differences in communication. Obvious cultural differences may not cause problems, because you know they are there, which allows you to adjust. So watch out for those sneaky differences, and understand your way is not the only way.

9. Take interest in each other’s everyday lives.

Even if you can’t do everyday things such as eating, cleaning, and shopping together, you can still be involved in each other’s daily lives. Taking interest in simple things like how your partner’s day went and what they did is a good way of sharing and being attentive.

10. Don’t let anyone tell you it never works.

Some people say long-distance relationships hardly ever work, and yet there are so many that do. Don’t let other people tell you if you can make it work or not, but decide for yourself. And even if it doesn’t work, pretty much all relationships are a gamble anyway.