You’ve just started seeing someone great. You get along, have fun together, and things seem to be going well. The only problem? They just received an offer for their dream job in another state. Or, maybe you hit it off with someone online who happens to live on the other side of the country.
They might seem scary or challenging, but long-distance relationships can and do succeed. They just require a bit of extra consideration and work.
Here’s a look at how to keep the love alive and tackle potential issues that might come up.
Local and long-distance relationships require a lot of the same things. Long-distance ones, however, will require a bit more conscious thought.
“People in long-distance relationships must be way more intentional and industrious in doing the work that helps relationships thrive,” says Patrick Cheatham, PsyD.
Discuss communication needs
When you first begin a long-distance relationship, decide how often you want to talk, beyond quick text messages throughout the day.
You might both agree you want to talk frequently but disagree about what that actually means. If your ideal levels of communication differ, finding a compromise early on can help prevent frustration later.
An occasional, spontaneous, “thinking of you” phone call can be a nice surprise, but scheduling longer conversations can help you connect when you’re both at your best. If your partner is a night owl and you’re more of a morning person, for example, try planning calls for just before or just after dinner.
Maintain your independence
This is a big one. Remember that you have your own life in your city. You might feel like part of you is missing if your partner is miles away, but try to keep up with your usual routines. Plus, keeping busy often helps relieve feelings of loneliness.
If you don’t see your partner often, you might want to talk to them more frequently. But feeling tied to your phone or computer can lead to sadness, or even resentment, if they can’t always talk to you. You’ll also lose out on time with other loved ones.
Even if your partner does have time to talk constantly throughout the day, it’s still a good idea to spend some time on your own or with friends and family.
Stick to your ‘meeting’ times whenever possible
You wouldn’t want to date someone who kept missing in-person dates for very long, would you?
A partner who’s too far away to help out when things go wrong may worry more than a local partner when they don’t hear from you at an expected time. Of course, things will come up, but try to let your partner know as soon as possible. And if you can, schedule a makeup chat session.
Vary your modes of communication
Switching up how you keep in touch may help you feel more connected. You might share photos and videos with Snapchat, keep up a chat on Facebook Messenger, text on occasion, and make a quick phone call over your lunch break or when you wake up in the morning.
Note that some people get overwhelmed when keeping track of multiple conversations, so this may not work for everyone.
Make your communication count…
In a long-distance relationship, it’s common to feel like you never get enough time to talk to your partner. If this sounds familiar, try to focus your energy on making the most out of communication.
As you think of things to share throughout the day, jot them down so you remember them later. If you have something on your mind, talk about it instead of letting it go unsaid.
…but don’t neglect the mundane
Distance can prevent you from feeling physically close to your partner. But lacking minor details can make you feel even farther apart emotionally.
Your instinct may lead you to focus on deep or meaningful topics so you can make the conversations you do have count. But things that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things can also contribute to your image of your partner and further emotional connection.
Don’t neglect intimacy
Maintaining sexual intimacy is a key challenge in many long-distance relationships. If you and your partner enjoy regular sex, you might struggle with the lack of intimate contact during your weeks (or months) apart.
But you can still connect intimately, even from a distance.
If you want to see each other regularly, you might have to invest a significant amount of time and money to make those visits. Those costs can quickly add up, even if you take turns scheduling time off work and paying for trips.
Cheatham encourages people considering a long-distance relationship to think about these practical aspects. “I don’t think these challenges need to be deal breakers, but they can foster resentment if they’re unexpected,” he says.