5 Tips to Make Long Distance Relationships Work

 

Long distance relationships are hard. You’ve seen them unsuccessfully depicted time and time again in TV or movies, you may have even experienced it firsthand with yourself or a friend. I’ve been dating my current boyfriend for the last five years, about two of which have been long distance. Keep in mind that every person and every couple is different, but this is what I’ve found has worked well for us.

 

1. COMMUNICATE!

Communication is the most important part of any relationship, romantic or not, period. However, this is especially relevant when you don’t see each other as frequently as other couples might. It’s really easy to brush things off, but that means feelings fester and eventually blow up into a much bigger issue. Feeling like you fully understand another person is really great, however, no one is a mind reader. Long distance relationships require a lot of work and demand a lot of you — it’s okay to have needs and vocalize those.

 

2. Schedule time for each other

Try to set a schedule of times when you know you’ll be able to be together in person, but also go ahead and schedule in specific times for FaceTime or Skype. Every week, my boyfriend and I watch RuPaul’s Drag Race together (For the record I’m #TeamMonet). We video call, sync up our laptops and watch the most recent episode together. It’s something we can do together without necessarily being together, and something I can look forward to every week.

 

3. Keep things fun and exciting

When you do get a chance to see each other in person, try to think of fun activities or things you can do together and look forward to. Don’t overload your schedule, or else you could both get overwhelmed and not even fully enjoy the time you do get together, but maybe make plans to see that movie you’ve both been wanting to see, or go ice skating. If they’re visiting you, try to think of things you both can do that they can’t do at home (for example, every time I visit Dylan in Chicago, I make him bring me someplace with deep dish pizza. It makes me a bad New Yorker, but that’s a burden I’m willing to bear). This is also something you can do without seeing each other in person! Of course, everyone likes gifts and surprises, but they don’t need to be elaborate. When we were in the middle of that -50-degree nonsense a few weeks ago, Dylan sent me a value pack of toe warmers to stay warm (side note: I have so many toe warmers. If someone needs any please hit me up). There are lots of things, big or small, that you can do to keep things fun for you and your significant other — even if you don’t see each other regularly.

 

4. Be your own person

Again, this tip generally important for all relationships. You need to make sure that you’re still you, and not just so and so’s boyfriend/girlfriend. One hard rule that I set for us during my freshman year was that I wouldn’t leave campus to visit Dylan during my first semester. I didn’t want to spend all my time somewhere else, or wishing I was somewhere else; I needed time to make my own friends and get to know my new school and surroundings. Now that I’m settled, we split visiting weekends pretty evenly, but it was really important to me that I left time to build those other relationships. Make sure you dedicate time to your friends, your own hobbies and interests, the things that make you outside of the relationship.

 

5. Know what you need, and what your relationship needs

The year that my boyfriend started college,  I was going to be a senior in high school, and we took a break. We thought that between him starting a new school, as well as the pressure I felt to just get into college and wrap up senior year, combined with the Chicago to New York distance, it just wasn’t in the cards for us that year. And I also think breaking up for a little while was the best thing we possibly could have done for ourselves; we didn’t put a strain on the relationship and had space to be our own people outside of each other for a little while. After I found out that I would be in Wisconsin for school, which is a far easier commute to Chicago than New York is, as well as us just flat out missing each other, we decided to get back together and we’ve been happy ever since (Or at least he’s failed to inform me otherwise.) Know what you need, know if you need a break, or more “in person” time, or just a good morning text to let you know they were thinking of you. Understand your needs, as well as the needs of your relationship as a whole.

 

There are lots of different things that go into whether or not a relationship works out or not, but there’s no reason that long distance alone has to be the deciding factor if it doesn’t need to be! Remember that everyone is different, and the most important part is just knowing yourself and your partner, and being able to trust each other and communicate. The rest will fall into place!