After spending 3 years in a long distance relationship, I can tell you they are not for the faint of heart. Being away from the person you want to be with the most is challenging, complicated, and not always happy. There were days I missed my boyfriend so much it physically hurt. But if you love someone, then the miles don't matter. That being said, it's not easy and you'll have to work to keep your long distance relationship alive and amazing.
LDRs aren't all bad, though. They are full of fun surprises that people in relationships of proximity don't get to experience. For instance, four years into my relationship, I was still counting down the days until I got to see my boyfriend and getting butterflies when I went to greet him at the door.
Surviving a long distance relationship is totally possible and even wonderful if you know how to do it. But treating your LDR just like any other relationship won't work. You have to put in more effort to keep the romance and excitement alive when you can't be in each other's physical presence all the time, and you have to enjoy doing that work. When an LDR begins to feel like a chore, then it's time to quit. But when reaching out to your partner feels like the best part of your day, then you know it's totally worth it.
1. Always Know When Your Next Visit Will Be
The worst feeling in a long distance relationship is watching your partner leave to go back home. But the only way to make it through these tearful goodbyes is to know when you're going to see each other next. If you don't have a visit to look forward to and count down until, you're facing an abyss. Having a concrete plan for when you're going to be together next gives you hope, and lets you know that this is really just goodbye for now, not forever.
2. Do Things Together, Even When You're Apart
My LDR existed in the heyday of Words With Friends, and there was never a time that me and my boyfriend were not engaged in multiple games of virtual scrabble. As silly as it sounds, this was an important part of keeping our relationship fun. We were still able to play games together, even though we were miles apart. Figure out what you guys like to do together when you're in the same space, and find a way to still engage in that activity from afar. If you're musicians, play songs together over Skype. If you're gung-ho athletes, challenge each other on running apps.
3. Tell Them Everything
No matter how boring the details of your day might seem to you, make sure you share your day with your partner at the end of the night. Since you aren't living in each other's orbits, one of the biggest pitfalls of an LDR is not having an accurate understanding of what your SO does on the day to day. And when they recount the events of their day to you, ask questions. Find out as much about their quotidian activities as you can to compensate for not being a part of them.
4. Send Snail Mail
When my boyfriend and I were doing long distance, I bought more stamps than I have ever bought in my life. And in return, I checked my mail with much more frequency. While texting is a great way to be in constant communication, nothing quite beats the joy of receiving something physical from your partner. Whether it be a package, a letter, or a short note, seeing his handwriting on the outside of an envelope instantly brightened my day.
5. Use Technology To Your Advantage
I can't even imagine how people survived long distance relationships before the invention of the Internet, let alone smartphones. In addition to just being able to text each other throughout the day, our phones give us other opportunities to express our love. Apps like Couple, which are specific for people in a relationship, allow you to communicate with one another on a platform that's just for the two of you, which makes it feel special. Plus, they have fun features like "thumb kiss" or joint-drawing, which are super cute and fun.
6. Sacrifice Evenly
LDR's involve a good amount of work, and sometimes sacrifice. Make sure you're both sharing the difficulties of your relationship. One person should not always travel to the other, and one person should not always rearrange their schedule to accommodate when the other is available to talk. Like all relationships, it is important that you are both taking responsibility in order to make things work.
7. Have A Plan For When You Visit
As tempting as it might be to spend the entire weekend in the bedroom, make sure you have fun activities and dates planned for when your SO visits. Since you don't have the opportunity to date regularly, you want to be using this time to create memories together. Visiting sites, trying new restaurants, cooking together, playing games — it doesn't matter what you do, just make sure you are doing special things when you're together. It'll make the visit even more fun, and also give you something happy to remember when you're apart.
8. Leave Surprises
Next time you visit, pepper their space with little notes or gifts before you leave that they'll find after you're gone. It keeps you a physical presence in their life even when you're back home. Plus, they'll totally appreciate the gesture — it's way cute.
9. Check In With Each Other When You're Out
Nothing quite strikes fear into the heart of a girlfriend in an LDR than hearing her partner is going out. Fridays and Saturdays are the toughest days to be dating someone who's not with you, and it's important to respect those feelings in yourself and your partner. It's a completely normal reaction, and it doesn't mean you don't trust them. So when you're the one headed to the bar, make sure to periodically text your SO and even give them a call good night when you get home to give them peace of mind. You'll definitely appreciate it when they return the favor.
10. Keep Your Sex Life Alive
While a life long bashful streak kept me from drumming up the nerve to sext, many of my friends who have been in LDRs have said that virtual sex was a great way to keep their relationship fresh. Whether it's a naughty phone call, or purchasing a sex toy that can be controlled via the computer by your partner, consider giving these sexy games a shot. Just be careful where your risqué photos go — if there's anything we can learn from celeb leaks, it's to be careful with you private pics.
11. Share Them During Visits
When you're seeing your boyfriend for the first time in weeks, and you know you have a limited amount of hours together, your first instinct is probably to keep him all to yourself. At least, that's how I felt. But I quickly learned that, no matter how much I wanted to hog him, it was really wonderful to spend some time with him and my friends and family together. It was important that he got to know the other people I loved and vice versa. If you really want him to feel ingrained in your life, the other people you're close to have to feel close to him as well. (And chances are they've heard a lot about him already.)
12. Watch The Same TV Show
If you were in the same place, chances are you'd have "a show" that you'd watch together once a week. But just because you can't cuddle up on the couch every Wednesday at 9 p.m. doesn't mean you can't still have a show. Pick a favorite sitcom or drama that you can watch every week and then dish about the next day. And even better if you can actually watch it with each other by using FaceTime or Skype.
13. Make An Countdown Calendar
If you and your SO have a big trip planned, send them an advent calendar of sorts to countdown to your reunion. Send five separate gifts, and have them open one each day. Each day, they'll get more excited to see you, and be reminded how great of a girlfriend you are.
14. Use Pheromones To Your Advantage
Before you leave, spray your partner's pillow with your signature scent so he can smell you every night before he falls asleep. Then, take the shirt they've been sleeping in back home with you, and where it when you want to feel close to them. Scents trigger memories, and being engulfed in your SO's smell will instantly transport you to being engulfed in their arms.
15. Schedule "Dates"
Make sure you carve out and set aside time to reconnect with your partner — and stick to it. Hold true to your video chats like you would an in-person meet up. Make sure you find at least one time every day when you're both free for a phone call or video call, even if it's just for 5 minutes. Don't underestimate the importance of hearing your partner's voice. You can only get so much out of text messages.
16. Visit, Visit, Visit
I can't stress this one enough: the more you see each other the happier you'll be. The longer you go between visits, the more likely you are to get testy with each other, and just generally unsatisfied with your relationship. Never forgo an opportunity to spend time together, even if it's a little inconvenient. Being together is the apex of every LDR, so do everything you can to have as much time in each other's company as you can.
17. Remember, It's Only Temporary
Long distance is extremely difficult, but if you truly love your partner it's worth every minute of it. Help yourself get through this tough period by reminding yourself it's only a phase, and that soon enough you'll get to be together every day. This is just one of the difficulties you and your partner will have to go through, and you'll be all the stronger for it. As someone who has come out the other side: it's tough now, but it's totally worth it.