Long-distance relationships are never easy. They require extra attention and a solid Wi-Fi connection, and come with the guarantee that friends and family will lecture you about everything you're missing out on. A friend of mine once described her own long-distance relationship as a vicious cycle of unpleasantness and optimism. But here's the thing: Couples make them work all the time. And if you're wondering how to maintain a long-distance relationship for the very first time, there are tons of tips and tricks out there to help you make it work as well.
Will it be 100 percent smooth sailing? Probably not. But, as many women who have successfully navigated the rocky waters of an LDR can tell you, they've also got their upsides — like the chance to explore new places, a greater appreciation for your time together, and the verification that your love can stretch across borders and oceans.
So, if you've never been in a long-distance relationship, but you and your partner have decided to give one a go, take a deep breath. I've turned to the experts to help lead the way. Here are four ways to maintain a great relationship long-distance.
You know what they say about assumptions, right? Try to avoid making them at all costs when you enter into a long-distance relationship, and aim to eliminate any chance that your partner will make assumptions about your vague words or actions.
As licensed marriage and family therapist Nicole Richardson explains, if you truly want to build and maintain trust with your SO, "Be open and transparent, and do what you say you’re going to do. In the absence of information, it is the human condition to make assumptions, and assumptions can be dangerous to the health of your relationship. So being as forthcoming as possible can really help protect the trust."
After all, trust is key.
Don't Sweat The Small Stuff
I know, I know — it's the kind of advice that applies to pretty much every situation. But it's especially important when you're trying to make a long-distance relationship work. And when more serious issues arise, well, talk them out.
"When there are disagreements in long-distance relationships, I think it is especially important not to let them fester for too long," explains Richardson. Once you have each had enough time to cool off, it is important to discuss [the disagreement] so that the damage is minimized."
In other words, swap out those passive aggressive "K" texts with some "I feel..." statements.
Make Time For Romance
When one of my college roommates spent a semester abroad in Europe, she and her stateside boyfriend never once sacrificed their weekly dinner date. They'd pick out a recipe, buy all of the same ingredients, and FaceTime while they prepared and enjoyed their dinners. It was adorable, and a brilliant way to make the ocean between them feel a whole lot smaller.
As Richardson explains, "Date nights [in long-distance relationships] are similar to other date nights. It is important to protect the time you have together and minimize outside distractions."
Set aside some time each day, or week, or fortnight and ensure that you two have a chance to connect and catch up one-on-one (even if you're not junior Top Chefs).
Set A Game Plan For Your Time Together
Of course, figuring out when and how you'll get together is a much bigger deal when you're in a long-distance relationship... so set clear parameters and come up with a game plan for how that time will be spent.
"Agree on how often to see each other collaboratively," says Richardson. "For example, if a couple can only get together monthly, should that time be spent alone (without others) or should that time be shared with friends and family? Or will there be a mix?"
Make those calls together, and ensure your expectations are aligned ahead of time.
Like Jim and Pam, you and your SO can totally make a long-distance relationship work (and make it last). I've got faith in you.
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