Relationship advice: How to make your long-distance relationship work
As more and more couples are forced to live apart, ELLE Canada rounds up expert relationship advice — and inspiring tales of triumph — about how to make your long-distance relationship work.
The reality, however, is that more couples than ever are in some sort of long-distance arrangement. Since 2011, Lacny has noticed an increase in the number of long-distance relationships, which she attributes to the economic crisis and the ensuing ultra competitive job market. “Today, a lot of people have to move for work and will do long-distance for a job,” she says. Other common reasons for long-distance relationships? Connecting with someone online who lives in a different city, or meeting someone while traveling.
So what can modern lovebirds do to go the distance for love when living miles apart? We’ve rounded up 10 expert tips and key relationship advice for how to make
long-distance relationship (LDR) work.
Long-distance relationship advice #1
Talking to the love of your life might seem like a no-brainer, but according to Lacny making time to connect in a meaningful way with your partner should be a conscious priority. “One of the biggest mistakes LDR couples make is not developing some sort of routine for consistent contact,” she explains. “When my partner and I lived apart for work, we found it hard to make time at a moment’s notice for the other person, because our schedules were so busy. So we scheduled time instead and sent texts throughout the day. It helped keep us connected and available for each other.”
The trick is determining how much communication works for you and what medium best suits you. Are you the
texting type, a chatterbox who adores the phone, or are emails enough? Everyone is different, so find a manner of connecting that works for you and your partner. Holly, 24, and Gary Luker, 28, of Cape Breton Island have maintained a long-distance marriage and co-parenting for a whopping four years (they only see each other in person for six months a year). They find that texting works best due to a significant time difference and opposite hectic schedules. As Holly says, “Just knowing you are equally missed by the person you are missing helps.”
More expert tips and relationship advice on how to make your long-distance relationship stand the test of time, on the next page…
Long-distance relationship advice #2
DON’T: Communicate too much.
Although talking is a wonderful thing, chances are your partner doesn’t need 20 separate phone calls a day narrating everything from what you ate for breakfast to what you plan to make for dinner that night.
Extravagant daily details such as these can instantly turn your phone calls and texts into mundane conversation and kill any sense of romantic longing. Keep your lines of communication meaningful and something to look forward to. Quality always trumps quantity.
Long-distance relationship advice #3
DO: Create intimacy.
Maintaining emotional and sexual intimacy can be challenging when you’re not in the same city, let alone in the same bed. But, as Lacny suggests, talking openly about intimacy issues before they happen and before one person moves away can help reduce tension.
“It’s important for couples to not feel shameful about what is comfortable to them, whatever that may be,” she explains. “Some couples enjoy things over Skype or the phone, others have
open relationships while apart, others rely on masturbation or send little care packages.” Whatever you need to do to keep intimacy alive in your relationship, Lacny advises being open and honest with your partner.
But, as much as you may miss your partner, don’t let yourself be pressured into doing anything you don’t feel comfortable with. If phone sex isn’t your thing, don’t feel obligated to participate just because your partner wants to.
Instead, brainstorm creative ways you can both satisfy your needs such as planning an extra trip to see each other, reminiscing about
favourite dates or writing saucy emails to one another.
Long-distance relationship advice #4
DO: Set boundaries.
Being apart can create a natural anxiety, especially when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex, such as a new co-worker, neighbour or friend.
“Have discussions about boundaries before the long distance relationship starts,” Lacny recommends. “Keep your partner in the loop if you’re going out with a friend or friends of the opposite sex. It will help maintain your trust.”
More dos and dont’s of maintaining a LDR on the next page…
Long-distance relationship advice #5
DON’T: Let jealousy rule.
Jealousy is a common by-product of long-distance relationships, and is typically rooted in a concern that you’re growing apart from your partner. However, Lacny says that one of the biggest mistakes you can make is obsessing about your partner doing things without you and spending time with people you don’t know.
“You can’t really know what each person is up to all the time,” says Lacny. “All you can do is keep in honest contact with that person on a day-to-day basis and not hide anything.”
Long-distance relationship advice #6
DO: Go above and beyond.
When Lacny was in a long-distance relationship, she and her partner developed a little ritual to let the other know how much they were loved.
“We would fly back and forth every three weeks. Then whoever was leaving would sneak a note or a small gift for the other, such as a stone heart in a suitcase or a letter in a coat pocket,” she recalls fondly. “It was a way to make that person feel our presence without actually being there. And funnily enough, it’s a tradition that we still do today whenever one of us has to travel.”
Other suggestions for letting your special someone know that they’re on your mind: Send a heartfelt letter or present by post, have their favourite comfort food delivered or surprise them with an impromptu visit. It’s the extra effort that will be remembered most.
Long-distance relationship advice #7
DON’T: Let the extra effort be one-sided.
Sharing responsibilities is an important aspect of any
romantic relationship, whether that means dividing household chores or choosing the Sunday night movie.
Imagine living together and always being the one to do the dishes, mow the lawn and plan vacations —it would never stand. Nor should taking all of the emotional responsibility in an LDR. Take turns initiating phone calls, visiting and planning
romantic date nights. If one person gets stuck doing it all you create an opportunity for resentment (and exhaustion) to creep in—never a good thing.
We round-up our expert tips for keeping a long-distance relationship strong, on the next page…
Long-distance relationship advice #8
DO: Have an end in sight.
No, no, this doesn’t mean safe-guarding yourself against a potential breakup. It means asking, “What are we going to do when the long-distance is over?” For established couples who are forced to
live apart due to work, asking this question helps preserve their sense of a shared future.
As Lacny explains, “For couples who meet while traveling, for example, having goals that relate to coming together, be it a trip or something more permanent like living together, helps both people know that the distance isn’t discouraging a permanent relationship.”
Long-distance relationship advice #9
DON’T: Ignore the present.
As hard as long-distance relationships can be, simply choosing to look on the bright side of things in the present can help a lot. If you’re living in a new city, go out and explore it. If you’re the one left behind, take the opportunity to try a new hobby. Does your partner hate Chinese food? Order a feast of it every Wednesday night and create your own personal routine that can be looked forward to during the time you are apart from your special someone.
Holly divides her time at home with the children between her in-laws in Cape Breton and her family in Nova Scotia as a way to keep busy while Gary is away. “There’s lots of time for romance when he is home,” she explains—and lots of time to enjoy the other good things in life when he isn’t.
Long-distance relationship advice #10
DO: Above all, trust each other.
“My relationship with Gary, when we are together or when we are apart, remains on a foundation of trust,” says Holly. Just as it’s important to trust your partner, it’s essential that you trust your decisions as a couple. “There is no wrong or right way to make it work,” continues Holly. “But there is a way.”