A Relationship Expert Reveals His Long-Distance Relationship Survival Guide

by Annie Foskett

"Long-distance relationships are extremely relaxing and easy to navigate," said no one in a long-distance relationship ever. Whether you are bicoastal babes or a quick two-hour train ride apart, distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it also makes it grow worried, confused, and lonely. I am of the mindset that long-distance translates to "soon-to-be-failed" when it comes relationships, but I've never been in one. TBH, I'm probably just secretly hoping my ex's long distance relationship isn't as adorable as it looks on Insta. As for how to survive a long-distance relationship? I have no idea, but there are plenty of couples out there who have made it work.

While I've never been in a long-distance relationship myself, I'm not totally against them. I love feelings and crushing and dating people, but I also really love my own independence and need lots of alone time. I prefer looking forward to a long stint of hanging out with a partner over a weekend after taking care of my own business all week.

Part of me even thinks I'd prefer a long-distance relationship to a regular one — especially because I live in New York, where, unless you live in the same neighborhood, it can be hard to find time to see each other daily. Part of me knows that this is an incredibly ignorant thought, and that I don't understand the challenges that couples in long-distance relationships face. So I spoke to clinical psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show, Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., about how to care for your long-distance relationship.

Communicate, But Acknowledge Your Limitations

Communication is the key to all relationships, and I would bet that 98.2 percent less fights would happen if people communicated their thoughts and fears more often in romantic relationships. In a long-distance relationship, you might be tempted to stay in constant communication, since there isn't the promise of seeing each other in person each night. But too much communication can be stressful.

"Communicate often but not constantly," says Dr. Klapow. "Trying to make up the time you are not together by talking, emailing, texting, FaceTiming constantly simply creates a level of expectation that can’t be sustained." Allow yourself and your partner the same amount of independent, offline time you would in a short-distance relationship. "Talk daily, text once or twice," recommends Dr. Klapow. "Keep it regular but regimented so that communication doesn’t take over your life." Fair point.

Set Realistic Expectations

You're probably in a long-distance relationship because you and your partner each need to be in a different part of the country (or world) for your careers. It's important to set realistic expectations when it comes to how you both want to maintain your long-distance relationship before things get lost in translation.

"A long distance relationship is not only logistically challenging it is extremely psychologically challenging," explains Dr. Klapow. "If you and your partner struggle with communication, transparency, [or] if your expectations about how much you will be together are off... you will create a level of psychological tension in the relationship that ultimately will be it’s demise." If you set expectations about how often you can be in touch and how often you will plan to see each other, there will be less room for miscommunication and disappointment.

Stick To A Schedule

When it comes to planning trips to visit each other and times to FaceTime regularly, make a schedule. It sounds sterile, but it will help with the expectation-maintenance. "Predictability will help create a rhythm to the relationship and allow you to function at a higher level when you are not with your partner," explains Dr. Klapow. Start a Google calendar if you must, or just promise to see each other every two weeks. Whatever works for you and your partner.

Maintain Your Independence

You can both be in a healthy long-distance relationship and create an independent life for yourself. In fact, taking care of your independence is only going to benefit your relationship. "Don’t force the relationship," says Dr. Klapow. "Allow it to happen while you continue to be as healthy and strong as an individual as possible."

If you put all of your time into maintaining your relationship, you're putting a lot of pressure on the relationship — it must work out!!! "Sacrificing your daily life, or watching it pass by simply to be with the other person comprises your wellbeing and places too much pressure on the relationship itself," adds Dr. Klapow. "Do the work, but let love be the glue that holds you together." As with everything in life, it's a balance. You've got this.