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Sex + Relationships

Tips to Maintaining a Healthy Long Distance Relationship

I am personally in a long-distance relationship. If there is anything I have learned from this experience (although I have truly learned many things), it’s that maintaining a relationship over long-distance certainly is not easy, but it is absolutely worth it. 

I’ve been with my boyfriend for nearly six years, and over half of that time has been spent over 600 miles apart from one another. He’s a year behind me in school and attends Oklahoma State University, and if maintaining a long-distance relationship wasn’t already hard enough, we’re both Division 1 student-athletes, and have our athletic seasons during different parts of the year — I play softball and he plays football. The distance itself is crazy, but our respective athletic schedules make it even crazier. Needless to say, we have both learned so much about ourselves as a couple and as individuals that helps motivate our relationship. Here are some of the many things that I have learned over the course of a long-distance relationship that helps to make the miles between us seem shorter:

FaceTime a bit more, text a bit less

Life can get so busy, especially when you’re dating long distance and you’re each living your own, individual lives in each other’s absence. This makes texting the most convenient route to take when trying to contact your significant other. However, this is where a lot of things can sometimes get lost in translation. It is easier to miscommunicate messages via text, especially in deeper conversations, since it is more difficult to decipher someone’s tone when you read it in your own mind. Although the timing may be difficult, putting a bit of time aside each night to FaceTime is worth it – even if that means texting less throughout the course of an average day. Texting less and FaceTiming more means that you both are able to share the small details of your days. This makes the experience of conversation much more immersive, interactive, and emotional since you can actually decipher the tone in their voice!

The small things matter!

The small things always seem to add up and amount to be one of the big things, so they definitely matter! Obviously, because they are small, these tasks, items, or events are often overlooked and underestimated. But, due to the size of these small tasks, items, or events, it just lets your significant other know the degree to which you are thinking of them. Not that large scale things don’t matter, but because the smaller things are more often overlooked. Your partner put a bit of thought into the small action they did for you by not overlooking it, despite its size. Although it may be a smaller task in size, that does not mean that it is lesser in importance. 

Learn your partner's love language + alter it to fit your relationship

Love languages are such an interesting topic, and someone could write an entire blog about it because all of the parts involved are just so complex. Everyone has different love languages and can even have more than one. It is important to know your partner’s love language(s) because it will help you to best show your love in a way that will be best received by them and vice versa. The list of love languages includes words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. For example, a person may show their love through acts of service, such as starting their partner’s car and scraping the snow off of their windshield when it’s cold outside, unloading the dishwasher, or cleaning a part of the house. This is important to know as the other person in the relationship so that you can realize this is your partner showing love for you through their love language. The reason this may be so difficult in terms of a long-distance relationship, when your love languages are quality time and physical touch, like mine and my boyfriend’s. Sadly, we are unable to tend to these love languages because of the obvious distance barrier, but this is where the other love languages can come into play. Just because a person has one love language that is the strongest, doesn’t mean they can possess other strong love languages! Words of affirmation, receiving gifts, and even some acts of service are possible in a long-distance relationship. 

Open communication is key!

There is nothing more important in a relationship than communication, and this applies to ALL relationships, not just long distance! Communicating with your partner at all may be difficult enough, considering you each grow as individuals and have separate busy schedules when you’re apart, but that doesn’t make it impossible! As previously mentioned, talking via FaceTime rather than text will help to keep the intimacy alive in conversations. But the crucial part of openly communicating with your long-distance partner is sharing the details. These details can include (but certainly aren’t limited to) the highlights of your day, what’s going on in your classes, the activities you chose to do in your moments of free time, how practice went (if you’re athletes like us) and the meal that you decided to make for dinner. These small details are SO important in making your partner feel as if they are still involved in your daily life, even from hundreds or thousands of miles away. Perhaps the most important part is sharing your emotions with your significant other. Share how your feelings fluctuated throughout the day, and what made you feel the specific emotions that you experienced. Your other half in your relationship should be a shoulder for you to lean on and a good person to talk to about your emotional state.

Plan trips to visit them as much as possible

Given that you are in a long-distance relationship, seeing your significant other is not a frequent occurrence. This is probably the most difficult item to complete on the list, but oh man, it’s also probably the best. I recently just ended a 5-month stint that my boyfriend and I had gone without seeing each other. I was able to make a weekend trip to visit him and watch one of his games. It was such a great time, but it always seems to pass so quickly. I cannot explain the level of excitement I contain for the next time that we see each other. A long period of time without seeing each other is certainly difficult, but it really makes us cherish the time that we get to spend with one another even more.

Dating someone over long-distance is anything but easy, but it’s still certainly worth the struggle. These are, by no means, the only tips that may be useful while dating over distance, but I hope that the five tips listed in this article serve to be useful in your relationship – long distance or not!

Morgan Day

Illinois State '21

Morgan Day is a senior public relations major and student-athlete on the softball team at Illinois State University. When she is not doing classwork, writing for HerCampus, or on the softball field, Morgan enjoys to sing, paint, and cuddle with her cat, Moose.
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