Long Distance Relationships – Survive & Thrive Apart

Maybe your partner is attending school in a different state or serving in the military. Maybe you met through a friend and had a connection that seemed interesting enough to pursue from afar. Long distance relationships can be hard to maintain, due to time differences, mismatched schedules, and lack of physical contact, but they can be worth the work.

What Makes a Long Distance Relationship Work?

As in any relationship, communication is key. Long distance relationships have to rely on verbal communication since couples are not regularly face to face. Partners should set aside time to talk regularly. Sharing an online calendar can help both of you know when the other is available. Partners should agree on the mode of communication, as some couples prefer talking on the phone, while others like video chatting. It can be harder to be spontaneous and romantic so both partners have to make an effort, planning different ways to mix it up (see below). Communicating about the future is also crucial to success. Since a long distance relationship is never the end goal, it’s good to talk about where you’re going.

Activities for Long Distance Couples

People can feel frustrated that they’re unable to go out on dates, growing increasingly bored of talking on the phone and texting. The following are a list of activities long distance couples can do to make things more interesting.

Personality/compatibility tests.

Couples can enjoy learning more about each other and their relationship by taking online quizzes. Examples can be found at Similarminds.com and Typefinder.com.

Choose a book to read together.

Set goals for how many chapters to read each week and make a date to discuss it together.

Cook together, taking turns to choose a recipe.

You each gather your own recipes, then video chat together while making the recipe in each of your respective kitchens. If you want, you can even dress nice, light a candle, and have a glass of wine with your meal to recreate the dating atmosphere as much as possible.

Play some simple verbal games together.

Mad Libs, 20 Questions, 2 Truths and a Lie, Truth or Dare, etc.

Exercise together.

Couples can video chat while exercising, competing or pushing each other to meet certain goals. The goal is not to limit yourself to just talking on the phone. Think about how you can modify activities you would enjoy doing together in person.

How to Keep Having Interesting Conversations in a Long Distance Relationship

There is the potential to get bored, stuck in a predictable rut. Here are some tips for keeping the conversation lively.

Change up your settings

Talking while on a walk or finding a new quiet place to chat are great ways to share an experience while apart.

Ask more detailed questions.

Instead of “How was your day?” ask “What was the best and worst part of the day?” If your girlfriend tells you she read a book, ask more about what types of things she likes to read.

Keep a daily diary but share it.

Jot down interesting things that happen throughout the day, including funny stories, things that would stand out to him, things you know would amuse your partner.

Google “conversation starters”.

A quick search on Google will help you come up with some great ideas. The first few items we found were asking “what it was like to grow up in a certain area” or something goofier like “what it would be like to be a dog for a day” (yeah, you might pass on that one).

Be honest.

If you find it’s hard to talk some days, tell your partner. You might be tired, and it would be better to end the conversation than let it drag on. Maybe someone is bothered by something, and mentioning that you can tell something is wrong can help bring it to the surface.

Be active outside the relationship.

Sometimes conversations can be boring because you’re not doing anything! Long distance relationships can end up taking all of your time, energy, and emotion. Invest in your relationship, but also invest in friends, family, hobbies, and interests. This gives you more things to talk about and keeps your relationship healthier as well.

Spicing Up a Long Distance Relationship

Some of the above mentioned ideas can help you communicate better and try new things. Here are some additional ways to spice things up and keep the romance alive.

Email time capsule.

At Futureme.org, you can create emails filled with romantic memories about your relationship and schedule them to send at a certain time.

Grow plants together, by planting the seeds at the same time.

This can be a fun competition between the two of you and also creates a visible reminder of your relationship.

Snail mail.

Writing each other handwritten letters can be very romantic. Another option is writing to each other in a journal that you send back and forth.

Special delivery.

Have food or flowers delivered to your significant other. Another way to send surprise gifts is through Amazon.

Sexual intimacy.

Sex is a natural part of any relationship. Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy having it with each other. It’s just a little different. Sexting and cybersex are ways of keeping up the physical intimacy in your long distance relationship. But be smart about it by practicing safe sexting!

Moving In Together After a Long Distance Relationship

Moving in together after time apart feels amazing. You are finally together! No more long distance! There will be more physical intimacy, less screen time. It’s also really important to express expectations to each other. Are there any ground rules and boundaries that should be discussed? What are our future plans? Who is going to vacuum? Is it OK to leave dishes in the sink? Couples can have problems if their unspoken expectations don’t match reality.

It’s also important to have some space. You’ve been comfortable living separate lives for a while, with certain habits and routines. Avoid stressing each other out by respecting your significant other’s needs for alone time.

When to End a Long Distance Relationship

Long distance relationships should end if you’re never going to end up living in the same place as your significant other. This can occur due to geographical preferences or work restraints. A breakup is also needed for partners whose futures don’t match up for any other reason, such as desires for children, religious beliefs, or other non-negotiables. Long distance relationships should end when there is intense, unsolvable jealousy. It is normal to feel a little jealous and curious about what a long distance partner is doing, but without trust and support, the relationship becomes unhealthy. Constant fighting, lying, or flirting with others are also warning signs. The main sign a long distance relationship can be supportive is if both partners miss each other but can still be happy in the moment, not always having to look to the future for fulfillment or joy.

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