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How to Thrive in a Long-Distance Relationship
How to Thrive in a Long-Distance Relationship

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that doesn't mean long-distance relationships are easy. Long-distance couples face all kinds of hurdles that don't affect couples living in the same city, from time zone irregularities, to video chat mishaps, to the agony of missing simple things like holding hands. But it's all worth it for the right person — in fact, you might even find that the time you spend apart enables you to forge an even stronger foundation for your relationship. T

01

Communicate regularly

Long-distance couple Capuski / Getty Images

When you're in a long-distance relationship, your phone or computer will become your new best friend. And with so many ways of keeping in touch across vast distances, it's time to get creative with your communication. Video chat is probably the best thing you can do while you're separated — there's nothing better than actually being able to see your partner's face. Even something as simple as "good morning" or "good night" messages can go a long way toward making you feel connected. If something happens to you during the day that makes you think of your partner, take a moment to send them a quick text, even if they're asleep on the other side of the world; it's the little things you'll miss out on most while you're apart, and that will help make you feel like you're still a big part of each other's lives.

02

Don't overdo it

Bored woman looking at phone Capuski / Getty Images

On the other end of the spectrum, it's possible to fall into the trap of trying to communicate too much. Being able to chat with your partner is fantastic, but that doesn't mean you need to be on call all day, every day. Every couple is different when it comes to communication, so find a balance that works for you. For some people, that might mean daily phone calls, while for others, once a week is fine. If you're both super busy, organizing regular chats might be the best way to find time to spend together; on the other hand, if having everything scheduled is causing stress, try a more freeform approach. What works for other people won't necessarily work for you — and vice versa — and that's okay!

03

Live your own life

Women playing soccer Mike Harrington / Getty Images

It's easy to see the drawbacks of a long-distance relationship, but what about the benefits? Try seeing the long-distance aspect of your relationship as an advantage. Whether it's a new hobby you've always wanted to try, friends you love hanging out with, or even throwing yourself into work or study, having time to yourself means you can focus on what's really important to you outside your relationship.

04

A matter of trust

Woman talking on web chat through her phone holding a sign saying "miss you" - distance relationship concepts andresr / Getty Images

Trust is a fundamental element of all relationships, but it's doubly important when it comes to long distance. When you can't see your partner every day, it's possible to feel less involved in their life, and you may start to wonder how they're spending their time when they aren't with you. While we all have occasional moments of insecurity, it's vital not to give in to doubts. Remember that you love your partner, so support them in their interests and activities that don't involve you, just like you would if you were living nearby. Constant check-ins or unnecessary fights will only cause tension in the relationship, so focus instead on building a solid foundation of trust and mutual respect.

05

Set clear expectations

love is the destination to the plane LewisTsePuiLung / Getty Images

Remember that solid foundation? If you want your relationship to have one, that means you and your partner need to be on the same page. Don't just take things for granted, even if you're in a long-term relationship. Before you go long distance, you need to talk — explicitly — about what that's going to look like for you. It's important to agree about aspects like how much communication works for you, how often you can visit, and even whether you're exclusive if it's a new relationship. Know your partner's boundaries, and respect the things you've agreed on together.

06

Do fun activities together

Man on video chat date Anchiy / Getty Images

One of the most important factors in keeping your relationship feeling fun and fresh is spending time together and having something to look forward to. Think about what you enjoy doing together, and whether there's a way to keep doing it while you're long distance. Playing games together is always a good option, as is synchronizing your favorite streaming service so you can watch a movie at the same time. If you miss being able to go out to a bar or restaurant with your partner, why not try cooking the same meal over video chat, ordering takeout for each other, or looking for a virtual event you can both attend?

07

Get intimate

Woman smiling at phone AleksandarGeorgiev / Getty Images

There are other things you're probably missing in a long-distance relationship, too. While these require a little bit of creative thinking, it's entirely possible to feel intimate and connected even when you're apart. If you're both comfortable with it, try sending flirty texts, suggestive photos, or more. It may not be a substitute for the real thing, but you may discover something new you're both into along the way.

08

Send care packages

Closeup of letters on writing desk at home IPGGutenbergUKLtd / Getty Images

It may sound old-fashioned, but sending something to your partner via snail mail can be super romantic. Instead of a text message or email, why not send them a letter? Better yet, if there's a present you'd like to send, consider putting together a care package. This works especially well if your partner has had to move away, and there are things about home that they're missing — never underestimate the joy of receiving a favorite hard-to-find snack in the mail. If you're unable to send anything, maybe put together a similar package for the next time one of you visits. Even something as simple as leaving sweet messages on a few post-its for your partner to find after a trip could totally make their day.

09

Schedule in-person visits

Reunited couple kissing CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

Depending on your circumstances, frequent trips may not be on the cards, but it's worth finding a way to visit as much as you can. Finally, getting to see each other in person is the highlight of any long-distance relationship, and having something concrete to look forward to can keep you going even when you hit a rough patch. Don't feel like you need to pack too much into every trip, though — while you may feel the urge to try to make up for every moment you've been apart, remember to schedule in some downtime, too. Actually, being able to go places together is exciting, but it's equally satisfying just to sit next to your loved one on the couch and watch TV.

10

Have an end goal

Beautiful, happy, young woman throwing red heart-shapes in the air, sitting on the bed Tijana87 / Getty Images

The most important part of any long-distance relationship is having a plan for how it's going to end. This may seem daunting if it's a brand-new relationship, but it doesn't mean you need an exact end date from day one. What it does mean is that you need some kind of idea about how and when you're going to be able to close the distance. And at some point, you and your partner will have to talk in concrete terms about the future — is one of you going to move, or will you both relocate somewhere new together? Will you face visa or immigration hurdles? How will this affect your lives, careers, and relationships with your family and friends? None of these are easy conversations to have, but they're vital if you want your relationship to have a real future.

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