I've been in a long distance relationship before. It didn't last. My freshman year of college, I went away to school in Boston while my boyfriend, a senior in high school, stayed behind in Los Angeles. While we tried to visit one another during breaks and talked on the phone with some kind of regularity, we just didn't have the tools to make our relationship work. When the physical disconnection gets overwhelming, you need long-distance relationship activities that can make you feel emotionally aligned with your partner again. And finding those tools can be hard.
My ex and I tried schedule regular phone calls and Skype chats to catch up during our long-distance relationship. But as a freshman in college navigating a new city for the first time and trying to make friends, making our relationship a priority became difficult. He got jealous and started intentionally flirting with other women, which, in turn, sent me into a tailspin. We both ended up cheating, then attempting to make up, but fostering emotional intimacy and regaining trust when there's a physical distance between partners can feel impossible. And for us, it was.
But long distance doesn't have to be like that for everyone, which is why I asked Lori Salkin, SawYouatSinai.com Senior Matchmaker and Dating Coach, for the best long-distance relationship activities you can do with your partner when you miss them. Because it's not easy.
While you might not be able to have dates IRL if you're in a LDR (long-distance relationship), that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have them at all. "Plan and schedule a phone/FaceTime/Skype dates! Pick a time and actually schedule it as a date, so you're not trying to FaceTime when one of you is running to the supermarket or the gym," says Salkin. "One of the hardest things about long distance, especially in different time zones, is finding time to make time for each other. You can't just expect both of you to want to sit around your apartments and wait [to] talk on the phone every night without notice."
That means getting dressed up, setting the mood, and finding a time to be affectionate and romantic with one another, despite the physical distance.
Salkin continues that it's also important to have an activity in mind when you talk. She suggests "playing question games such as 'The 36 Questions That Lead to Love' from the NYTimes Article" or perhaps other question-driven activities that will keep you emotionally vulnerable and intimately connected. You don't want to slip into that dreaded friend zone unexpectedly.
Part of the fun of being in a relationship is doing mundane tasks together — going grocery shopping, running errands, having complete mental breakdowns at IKEA. When you're not in the same physical place anymore, you start to miss all the activities you once took for granted, and maybe even hated.
"Keep your significant other 'on' on FaceTime/Skype/the phone while you go through something simple — things like cooking or eating," Salkin suggests. "If you weren't in a long-distance relationship or were together visiting each other, something like cooking dinner and eating dinner together is a very normal date night. Why not plug in and position your iPad in your kitchen and talk to each other over the phone or on video chat as you cook together (albeit separately), and then, bring your smart device to the table and chat as you eat, as though you were in person."
She clarifies, of course, that you should not do this while you are out to dinner with friends or in a restaurant. That would be very weird and rude. I hate when people are FaceTiming in restaurants. Don't do that!
You hang up. No, you hang up! No, you hang up! Just as you would fall asleep with one another in real life, you shouldn't lose that capability entirely when you go long-distance.
"Be the last person you both speak to at night before you go to bed and even fall asleep on the phone while talking to each other," says Salkin. "Making it a habit to call your significant other at the end of the day as you are lying in bed about to fall asleep is a great way to connect and make sure each of you feels your commitment toward each other." It's also a great, foolproof way to make sure neither of you is cheating, but maybe that's just me being paranoid! (Sorry, I was cheated on once.)
She continues, "You can recap your days together and catch up while you're finally relaxed and in bed for the day. Also, sending each other a good morning text every single morning when you wake up, even though you're rushing to get dressed and out to work, will always make each other feel important and special."
When it comes to long-distance relationships, staying together isn't easy. But if you are truly in love, it's definitely worth it. If you have the right tools, and are able to visit one another with some sort of frequency, your relationship should be able to run smoothly. Just remember not to FaceTime in restaurants.
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