Long Distance Relationships: How To Set Them Up For Success
Did you know that 75% of engaged couples have been in long distance relationships (LDR) with each other at some point?1 It’s true! You might think an LDR isn’t for you… and then you find someone online who doesn’t live in the same city, or even country as you, . While long distance dating comes with its own set of challenges, if you and your partner put in the time and effort to prepare and communicate with each other, there’s no reason why long-distance relationships shouldn’t be as strong as conventional ones. In this article, we’ll discuss how to prepare for a long-distance relationship and offer you a few tips on making long distance work.
Challenges of long distance relationships: Why long distance dating may not be everyone’s cup of tea
They may say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but that doesn’t mean that long-distance relationships don’t come with their own set of challenges. There’s the fact that you can’t see your partner as often as you’d like – through a screen just isn’t the same thing. It’s also difficult to be spontaneous when your partner is a multiple-hour drive or flight away. Plus, of course, there’s that whole intimacy thing. While we’ve made some remarkable advances — e.g. sex toy technology (app-controlled vibrators, anyone?) nobody’s yet managed to come up with a virtual substitute for a good old-fashioned hug. Long-distance relationships also bring with them the stress and uncertainty of being worried your partner might find someone else in their home city, or that they already have.
Before we put you off the idea completely, we should mention that none of these challenges are insurmountable, especially with a little preparation and planning for how to deal with a long-distance relationship.
Preparation is key: 8 things to know for making long distance work
Our most key piece of long-distance relationship advice? Know what you’re getting into and be prepared to work for what you want. Here are eight questions to ask yourselves while figuring out whether you want to be a long-distance couple or while preparing yourself for an upcoming long-distance relationship
1. Where do we see this going?
Talking about your expectations beforehand – whether this is a casual relationship or you’re thinking of rings eventually – can sidestep a lot of future arguments and prevent both of you from wasting time in a relationship that was never going to work out.
2. How long do we expect to be long distance?
The average duration for a long-distance relationship is a little under three years2, but every couple is different. Knowing there’s an end point of long distance can help a lot when things get hard and it feels like long distance dating just isn’t worth it.
3. Who moves?
There’s no hard and fast rule for which of you have to move to be with the other or if you expect that someone moves at all, but it’s important to have the discussion. It can also be illuminating to know what kind of expectations your partner has and what compromises they’re willing to make – for instance, do they expect you to uproot yourself, or are they willing to move so you can be together?
4. How often will we be in touch? How?
One of the most important long distance relationship tips: lots of communication is key. Decide how the two of you are going to keep the connection – Video calls? Phone calls? Visits? – and what works best for each of you.
5. What are our thoughts on exchanging explicit texts, pictures, or videos?
While sexting is becoming more and more common, it’s essential to figure out what your boundaries are – and respect any your partner may have. Remember, consent is key.
6. How often will we be visiting each other?
Given the costs of visiting – in time, money, and effort – having a realistic idea of how much time you can spend with each other is one of the best pieces of long-distance relationship advice we’ve heard.
7. What do we need to feel loved?
Another of the most important long-distance relationship tips? Figure out what your love language is, and how to make it work with your partner’s – figuring out long distance relationship rules is complicated enough without communication mismatches.
8. Is an open relationship an option?
Finally, some people find that opening up their relationship can help with the stresses of a long distance relationship. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth discussing just in case.
Long Distance Relationship Tips: How to maintain your long distance love
It can be hard figuring out how to deal with a long distance relationship, but we’ve got you covered. Here are ten key long-distance relationship tips:
Set clear long distance relationship rules and boundaries
This is important for conventional relationships and even more important when it comes to dating long distance. Discussing what is and isn’t acceptable in your relationship regularly not only strengthens your bond, but it can also help you keep from inadvertently doing something that hurts your partner or diminishes their trust in you.
Maintain your independence
Take advantage of one the main selling points of a long-distance relationship – the fact that you (mostly) don’t have to shape your schedule around your partner’s. It allows you to put in the extra mile at work, take up a hobby, or schedule time with your family, your friends, and yourself – just because your partner isn’t around doesn’t mean your life shouldn’t be a good one.
Have a schedule
Especially if one or both of you are busy, it can be very easy to let the relationship slide. Combat your out-of-sight-out-of-mind tendencies with pre-arranged dates – movies together on Saturday, a phone call during your morning walk, or Facetiming while you cook. Having regular dates will make your long distance relationship feel more real and give you things to look forward to.
Mix up what you talk about
Take advantage of the various means of communications you have at your disposal – for example text or video calls – to inject some variety into your conversations. You can ask each other silly or meaningful questions, do quizzes together, or just talk about your days.
Don’t forget to get physical
Sex is an important part of many relationships, and long-distance relationships are no different. Several companies are now coming out with wifi- or app-connected sex toys specifically for long distance couples, and there are also the old standbys of phone and video sex. You can also read a sexy novel together or go really old school and send each other letters or emails detailing your sexual fantasies. (If you do, be sure to keep them somewhere safe, and in the case of emails, NOT from a work-related device or account!)
Talk things out ASAP
When it comes to how to do long-distance relationships, a key piece of advice is never to let things fester. Even if it’s hard or awkward, it’s important to talk about things that are bothering you before they can become enough of a problem to potentially torpedo the relationship.
Figure out the finances early
Money is one of the most common reasons couples argue, and there’s no reason to think that long-distances couples are any different. There’s no doubt about it; visiting each other is expensive, especially if you want to do it over the holidays. An honest conversation about costs and how to split them, especially if one of you makes more than the other, can head off a lot of arguments later. One of our favorite long-distance relationship tips? Consider creating a budget together, or a fund specifically for things to do with your relationship, whether that’s visits, a joint subscription for you to enjoy together, or virtual dates.
Take advantage of technology
And we don’t just mean in the bedroom, either. More and more companies are making products designed to help people connect despite being far apart, like lamps or bracelets that light up when their counterpart is touched. You can also watch the same movie on video chat while doing chores – studies show that video chat can increase intimacy3. Parallel play – doing different activities together in the same space, or in this case, while on a call together – is a great way of strengthening your long distance bond. In fact, computer-mediated communication in general helps to ease loneliness and increase feelings of closeness, relationship satisfaction, as well as lowering jealousy.4
Have physical reminders of your significant other
A sweatshirt that’s soft from how many times they’ve worn it, a stuffed toy they bought you at a fair, a photo in a frame rather than just in your phone – tangible, physical reminders of the person you love can help you stay connected even when they’re far away. You can also create a physical scrapbook of times you’ve spent together, with tickets to events you’ve been together, playbills, or even pressed flowers or leaves. Let your creativity run wild!
Make fun plans
Remember, this whole long-distance relationship thing won’t be forever – hopefully. Remind yourselves of the light at the end of the tunnel by making plans for the future – a bucket list of things to do once you’re living together full-time, for instance, or trips to cities that aren’t where either of you live, just for a change of pace. Reminders of what you have to look forward to will help you get through when right now seems like a slog.
Navigating the Path of Long-Distance Love Doesn’t Have to be that hard
Do long-distance relationships work? Long-distance relationships may come with their own unique set of problems and challenges, but at the end of the day, they’re still relationships. Just like any other relationship, if there’s trust, communication, and a willingness to put in the work, the odds of making it to a happily ever after are pretty decent. If it doesn’t work out, however, there’s no shame in walking away – not every traditional relationship works out, either. Regardless of the type of relationship, however, compatibility is key – which is where eharmony comes in. Our scientific matching system helps you find people who share your values and are also on the lookout for a serious relationship. So sign up with eharmony and get started on the path to real love today.
Relationships Advice: “49 Long Distance Relationship Statistics” ↩
University of Calgary: “Intimacy in Long-Distance Relationships over Video Chat” ↩