Long distance is hard. No one would dispute that! If you’re wondering how to make a long distance relationship work, my experiences and learnings from doing long distance over 3 years+ will hopefully offer some comfort and insight.
My experience of long distance is pretty exceptional. Kazimir and I are from antipodean countries, the UK and New Zealand. We battled the distance of 19,000km for over 3 years before living together. And even after a year finally reunited for good we found ourselves doing long distance during unexpected global circumstances.
Over the 3 years we learned so much. I truly believe that distance does not have to put a time limit on a relationship. Nor do I think that “long distance relationships never work”. Quite the contrary in fact. Although I realise we’re very lucky to have come out the other end still going strong, I also know it took a lot of effort.
I want to share a few ways that I found have helped us to get through long distance. So, if you find it all a bit overwhelming please know you’re not alone. I’ve been there.
Here are 10 ways to make a long distance relationship work. Remember, none of these will work alone. You need a healthy balance of communication, consideration, and forward-thinking to build a solid partnership together.
Think Long Term
In the early stages of your LDR it will seem insane to be trying to make it work. Do you really know each other well enough? Can you see yourself with each other for a long time? Who will move where?
It can be scary to ask such serious questions when you’ve only just decided to be together, but it’s important to think about these things at the start of a long distance relationship. You don’t want to waste your or their time if you fail to think ahead.
You need to have an end goal to work towards: being together.
Long term doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Thinking ahead to just the next visit is enough. Any LDR couple know that the really agonising part is the uncertainty. WHEN will you see each other again? WILL you? Agree on a plan and try to stick to it.
You don’t have to be shopping for wedding rings just yet, but keep in mind the realities of long stretches apart means condensing a lot of life decisions into a shorter space of time. You wanna know that this is someone you’re willing to give it a go with.
Life and events get in the way. Are you willing to rethink your plans or extend the period of separation because of factors beyond your control? Sometimes you’ve got to roll with it. While I will always encouraging prioritising your own personal life above anything else, that’s not always possible. We’ve had to halt our plans to accommodate weddings, promotions, house moves, and more.
Long distance relationships are a lifestyle you choose. You may find yourself declining social activities on certain days of the week because it’s the ONLY chance you’ll get to FaceTime. That’s OK! Think of time virtually spent with your partner as equal to time spent together. Likewise, if one of you wants to reschedule plans because something urgent came up you need to allow them and yourself that room.
Make active choices that give you an advantage in your LDR.
There are some choices you can make that allow you more flexibility. The company you work for might allow time to work remotely, giving you some room to work remotely for a bit. Or maybe a job that allows extended periods of leave (or unlimited annual leave) means one less headache when arranging visits together (and more time to spend with your love!).
Use Effective Communication
I cannot express enough how important proper communication is for making a long distance relationship work. These two vital aspects to communication: listening and honesty will get you through the toughest periods.
More than anything, listen to your partner. What are their hopes, goals, ambitions, achievements, fears, regrets? The time you spend apart in a long distance relationship is valuable time. It’s a chance to learn about each other. It’s a chance to work on your communication styles and skills. It’s a chance to connect in ways many other couples do not experience.
In my post about ways to manage long distance communication I spoke about a whole bunch of techniques to improve communication. Try a few options and see what works best. The goal is to find an approach that lets your relationship grow while you’re apart.
As in all relationships, honesty and trust are paramount. There is absolutely no use in hiding your true feelings from your partner. If you’re feeling down about the distance, tell them! They cannot help you if they don’t know how. Equally, if you have ideas and hopes you’d like to share, they will love to hear about them.
As much as you listen to them, your honesty and openness will have them tuning in to you and your needs.
It’s easy to let daily life run away with us. All of a sudden, you’ve not seen your partner in 6 months and still have nothing in the diary!
Give a deadline to your decisions. If you’re planning a visit, make sure you choose the basics such as when and where as early as possible. Not only does this keep the momentum of the relationship going, but it also gives you something to look forward to.
Your organisation skills are going to come in handy when thinking about your future. What needs to happen to be closer together? What timeframe are you putting on the next steps to be together?
Here’s a life admin checklist to consider:
- Pros and Cons of where you’d like to live together (either one of your homes or a new place)
- Research moving and living costs, legal requirements, job availability, accommodation options
- Understand visa or legal applications needed to shorten the distance
- Factor in waiting periods between applications and approvals to determine your timeline
- Book flights, arrange viewings, plan for job interviews
- Keep a Plan B if not all elements are feasible at this time
- Plan ahead for after this next stage with additional applications or renewals
Are you able to keep all this life admin and more in mind?
It really sucks to be so consumed by these thoughts on a regular (for me, daily) basis. But, if you’re going to close the gap between you and your partner it will pay off to be proactive and take active steps to your future together.
Save Up When You Can
There’s a good chance you’ll be spending money to make a long distance relationship work. Flights, visas, holidays, and whatever else are expensive!
Being savvy with your savings will give you some peace of mind when it comes to planning your future. If you need funds to visit each other or to apply for visas, or maybe as a deposit on a home together – it will help to have the savings already.
Plus, think about all the money you’ll be saving on dates. Pop that in a pot and put it towards your next visit together!
Understand Each Other
I do think so many long distance relationships struggle with mutual understanding. A lot of this comes down to communication, I really believe it’s the core of making a long distance relationship last.
Be On The Same Page
- Do you both want the same things in life, both presently and in the future?
- Will one of you struggle being apart more than the other?
- Do you have the same timeframe on when you want to be together?
Basically, you’ve got to know that you’re both on the same level of emotions and goals. If these don’t align, your long distance relationship may not work.
You can learn a lot from your instincts and if you’re getting a bad vibe that this won’t work out – talk about it. Only then can you know if the long distance relationship will last.
Know What’s Best For You Both
Do you know what each of you needs from the relationship?
Have a look at the 5 Languages of Love – you might be surprised what style of love you prefer to give and receive.
Above all else remember that long distance is an exceptional circumstance to be in. We turn into a whole new person in a relationship. Even the chillest cool cat on the planet could turn clingy when separated for long stretches! You’ll soon find out if you can survive months apart, but if you have an idea already you should definitely let you partner know.
If they or you need some extra attention, accommodate that. If one of you needs some extra loving in the form of a surprise takeaway delivery, do you best to support that.
Love is shown in so many ways, and what each of us needs to feel loved in life changes and fluctuates. Figure out how to be the best partner from a distance, and express clearly how they can do that for you too.
Remember Your Commitment
Giving up might sound like the easy option when things get tough. Making a long distance relationship is hard work, but the commitment you’ve made to each other means you’re a team that can work on it together.
Your partner is someone you’re willing to do this crazy long distance nonsense with. How awesome is that?! If you’re going through a rough patch, remember the reasons why you started this journey.
Remind yourself that emotions can be amplified by the distance. The lack of their comforting touch or seeing their face can feel so lonely. But you are not alone. They are in this with you.
So many long distance relationships fail because they don’t believe they can work.
If you’re willing to put the effort and time into your long distance relationship, it can thrive and flourish as much if not more as a regular relationship.
There are lots of benefits to a long distance relationship, some which are harder to see than others.
Embrace the challenges and opportunities, you’ll be surprised how fulfilling you may find it.
While researching for this post all I came across were questions like: “how long can a LDR last”. Putting a timestamp on how long a relationship lasts will doom you to failure. Keep your heart and mind open to the new experiences. I know from my own experience how hard it can be to stay positive but if you’re able to focus on the things you love about your relationship and the future you can have together, you can get through the tough times!
Don’t forget your relationship will go through all the ups and downs of a typical couple. One fight doesn’t mean you have to end it all!
Lean In To Your Doubts
If you’re having doubts about your LDR, listen to why that is. Can something be done to improve how you feel?
Worries and questions are totally normal. Long distance is never a first choice situation to be in, and we’re all just doing our best to deal with it as it comes.
Misery loves company, especially in a long distance relationship.
When these concerns arise, share the weight of your worries with your partner. There is no point keeping it to yourself. Bottling negative emotions risks building resentment or pushing your partner away. Discussing the problems and how you can work it out together is the best way to fight the low points.
See how everything comes back to communication?!
Don’t Force It
If you’ve tried your very best and the relationship isn’t working, it’s time to have a frank and honest conversation.
Not all relationships last, and long distance adds a whole new challenge that won’t suit everyone. It’s OK to call time on a negative relationship that doesn’t make you happy. Or rather, is causing more bad times than good because who the heck is happy being separated during long distance?!
Whatever your reasons for splitting up – if you’ve tried your best that’s all that matters.
I can’t go into all the reasons someone might end a long distance relationship, but know that just because it didn’t work this time that doesn’t mean it won’t work for others or a future relationship.
We so often hear the bad experiences.
Every single person is different and would tackle long distance in their own way. If your LDR falls apart please don’t think you’ve failed. It’s not you that didn’t make it work, the people and the circumstance simply weren’t compatible. However, don’t be discouraged that it may never work in the future. You really never know…
How do you make a long distance relationship work? Have you got any advice or tips for those struggling with the challenges of LDR? I’d love to hear your story, we’ve got to stick together! I’m always here to answer any questions, have a chat, and offer some advice if you’re going through long distance.
Much love, Suzy
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