Even with technology making everything easier, being in a long distance relationship (LDR) isn’t any less hard. Between different time zones, cruddy WiFi, nosy relatives, delayed flights and the fact you can’t hold hands while you walk to class, being apart can definitely put a strain on even the most loving relationship – I’d know, being about 900 miles from my boyfriend in Indiana.
However, now more than ever, you can make it work. Whether you’re high school sweethearts, online pen pals or star-crossed study abroad lovers, with these eight tips, hopefully you can stay strong, stay close and keep that flame going.
1. Communication is key!
This is important on multiple fronts. Communication in any relationship is crucial, and even more so in long distance. You can’t be passive aggressive or drop “little” hints to your partner if something is bugging you. You have to be as subtle one of those flailing arm dudes in front of used car dealers. Offer no room for misunderstanding, because you lack an important part of human understanding: body language. Make up for it by making your intentions clear, and take the time to write out EXACTLY what you mean.
2. Send each other little reminders
It doesn’t have to be big. A text with a kissy-face emoji, a picture of a cute dog you saw on the way to class or sending a good ol’ fashioned “I love you” during the day can go a long way. You can have as many grand romantic gestures as you want, but small things like this can do a lot to brighten up your partner’s day.
3. Take advantage of technology
This goes without saying. There are tons of great apps and websites beyond Skype, FaceTime and Google+ that you can use. One of my favorites is Rabb.it. It’s an online site you can use to simultaneously video chat and play games, watch movies or surf the web. Couple is another good one. It lets you share photos and videos and has a little ‘Thumb Kiss’ feature that’s honestly adorable. Feel free to do some research as well, since there are a ton of apps out there made for LDRs.
4. Be creative with your gift-giving
There are tons of little ways to show your partner you care. If they live on a college campus, chances are there’s food delivery services. Is your SO holed up in their dorm studying? Order them some Insomnia or a pizza and have it delivered to them. Surprise them with a flower delivery, or pre-ordering a drink for them at their favorite cafe. It’s a lovely boost at any part of the day.
5. Have a countdown!
Counting down the days till your next visit, the dollars till you can afford a flight or even the hours until your next phone call can help you have a sense of perspective. Have some goal you can always look forward to. It doesn’t have to be a grand countdown until you can ‘Be Together Forever’ or whatever. Living in a void until your next visit or call can be maddening, so spare yourself the stress and lay down a finish line.
6. Don’t let the haters bring you down
We’ve all heard the same lines, annoyingly dispensed by random people you meet. “Why can’t you find someone closer?” “Long distance relationships aren’t real.” “Really? You met her on the internet? That’s ridiculous!” These are all, unfortunately, common.
My advice to you: don’t let it get to you. People (especially of the older generation) may not understand that LDRs are as valid as any relationship. In fact, they can be even stronger than a “normal” relationship. Your communication is strong, you know how to connect with each other without being physically near and you really know to appreciate the time you have with your partner. Ultimately, you know your relationship best. A nosy aunt/random bus driver/your bio lab partner doesn’t!
7. Get intimate!
If your relationship includes sex, then it doesn’t have to stop just because you aren’t in the same room (or bed). Sexting, phone sex or other forms of long-distance intimacy, as long as both of you are into it, can bring you closer and help relieve tension. Be sure to discuss what you and your partner are comfortable with (remember, communication is key!) and don’t let sex totally supersede what the relationship truly is. Conversations, dates and non-sexual things should still make the bulk of your interactions.
A word of caution: In today’s (very unsecure) world, you should be wary of sending nudes. If you choose to do so, take some safety measures: Make sure there aren’t any identifying features (like a tattoo or your face) in the photo, use end-to-end encryption (WhatsApp is a good app for that) and DELETE anything you send. Nobody wants to recreate “Shut up and Dance.”
8. Allow yourself to miss them
A lot of articles about LDRs will tell you to stay busy when you’re not with your partner. While this is good advice (you don’t want to wallow in your misery, of course) you shouldn’t try and bury your feelings. Some days, the sky is gray, you’re feeling down and you miss your SO. Let that feeling wash over you. Appreciate it, because it reminds you that you love them and are grateful for having them in your life. If you need to, hug your pillow, give them a call and just talk.
Long distance, while it can feel like it, isn’t forever. It’s just a stepping stone in your relationship, and hopefully one day, you can cross that last day off the calendar, buy a one way ticket and finally reunite – for good.
Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @marlese_lessing.