According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, there are currently about 14 million American couples in long-distance relationships. And over 3 million of those couples are married. No relationship is easy, but a long-distant one has a unique set of challenges to meet if it’s going to be successful.
“You have to put out that extra effort, that extra commitment,” Dr. Bruce Derman, a relationship expert and clinical psychologist in California told USA TODAY College. “You can’t just have a natural flow, it’s not just ‘I’ll just see you when it’s okay for me.’ All get-togethers are a project that’s going to require a lot of planning. You have to be willing to meet that demand.”
Being away from each other can be especially tough on holidays or special occasions. If you find yourself in a long-distance relationship this Valentine’s Day, here are a few ways to navigate the Hallmark holiday from afar.
Valentine’s Day ideas for long distance couples:
Embrace the countdown.
Valentine’s Day is often an afterthought, even for couples who see each other every day. Surprise your loved one by planning ahead a bit and sending little love notes or postcards in advance of the day. Or send a series of notes or small gifts in one package with specific “open on” dates. Make each note personal and specific. It’s a great time to reminisce about your early days of dating: remind each other of why you fell in love.
Skip the e-card. Send snail mail.
Even if your handwriting is far from pretty — or your spelling isn’t going to win any bees — your penmanship is going to win over your long-distance love this Valentine’s. Trust us. A personal handwritten note goes a long way. Worried that you’ll look cheesy? Embrace it — and up the cliché factor with a spritz of your cologne.
Bonus points if you send a care package with a few of her favourite things and/or things that represent your relationship: a favourite candy, the scarf she always steals from you, a copy of the book you’re reading so you can read it together, or a gift card for the spa so she can get the shoulder massage you wish you could give her.
Make the call.
Let your voice be the first he hears that morning. Start and end Valentine’s Day with a phone call. If a phone call doesn’t work — timezones and schedules can complicate things — at least send a text when they’ll be waking up.
Send flowers. Send everything.
Delivery services aren’t what they used to be. Have her favourite flowers delivered — you don’t have to do red roses — or opt for something more customized to her tastes: cookies, wine, cheese, or coffee. Or buy her a subscription service so she’ll receive a gift from you every month: socks, jewelry, snacks or beauty products.
Recruit a friend. Or roommate. Or boss.
Surprise your partner by getting his friend or coworker in on the act. Mail your accomplice a series of gifts or notes to hide around your significant other’s apartment or office for them to find. Your partner might expect a card in the mail. He won’t expect a card wedged in his keyboard.
Do dinner together. Maybe dinner and a movie.
Open a bottle of wine, light a candle, and set up your laptop. Schedule a Skype or FaceTime dinner together. Then “share” dessert while watching a favourite movie.
Postpone — with a plan.
Plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day together soon. Schedule your next in-person date, and plan accordingly. (Yes, do it up, Valentine’s Day-style, even if it’s in April: chocolates, cinnamon hearts, and chocolate-covered strawberries included. You’ll be turning a faux-holiday into something memorable.) It will give you both something fun to look forward to.
If you can swing a last-minute trip to surprise your love, do it.
Have you ever celebrated a long-distance Valentine’s Day long-distance? Share your secrets to success — or your cautionary tale — in the comments.