How to make long-distance relationships last
Updated: Jul 9
Navigating a long-distance relationship can be challenging, but it's certainly not impossible. And the numbers of people in long-distance relationships are increasing every year.
Here are some steps to help you navigate your long-distance relationship: Step 1: Communication is Key The key to any successful long-distance relationship is communication. Make sure you and your partner have open and honest communication, and be sure to check in often. Utilize communication tools like video calls, texting, or emailing to remain connected. Step 2: Plan Trips to Visit Each Other To keep the relationship going and make the distance more bearable, plan visits to see each other. It will give you something to look forward to, and spending time together in person can help strengthen the bonds between you.
Be open with each other regarding your expectations of being together again. Some people actually need time to acclimatize to each other again. And if you're a parent and your partner works abroad it is important to give each other transition time. Both are looking for comfort but also reprieve and these needs can lead to competition and resentment. Step 3: Keep Up with Your Own Life Don't put your life on hold just because you're in a long-distance relationship. Continue to do the things you love, spend time with friends and family, and pursue your goals and interests. Step 4: Learn About Each Other The 5-Love Languages is a great way to start. It can be useful to know what fills each other most (and least) and if you speak different languages (figuratively and literally) - how to speak to each others needs. If you're needs differ, it's not a problem, in fact it could bring more flavor! But you need to keep the attitude right to see it that way. Step 5: Be Creative Inject some fun into your long-distance relationship by sending each other care packages or sweet letters, or by planning a surprise virtual date. Get creative with ways to keep the relationship fresh and exciting. If you're not a very 'romantic' person, be sure to be intentional about doing effort to make your partner feel special. Even if you have to make reminders in your diary. There are far fewer moments to cement your relationship together as a couple, so those intentional efforts count a lot. The Gottman's talk about bids for connection that couples make on a daily basis, which you don't have here as much of. So be sure to attend to each other (and if you'd like o learn a lot more about bids, and other great tools for couples, be sure to check out my course: The Ultimate Relationship Toolbox for Couples.
Step 6: Plan for the Future
Discussing future plans together, like where you might eventually live or what your long-term goals are as a couple, can help keep you both motivated and optimistic about the future. It's important to discuss as you might have very different ideas, and they can lead to resentment, pain, and anger if not discussed. Difficult conversations often don't get worked through in one sitting. It's okay if you two need many discussions to figure things out.
In summary, the key to navigating a long-distance relationship is communication, planning visits, maintaining your personal interests and lives, staying curious and committed to knowing each other and each others lives, being creative, and planning for the future. If you do find resentment seeping in, or that you're starting to 'look around' at other people locally, it's important to talk to your therapist about it, reflect honestly on things, and talk to your partner. First try figure things out together before you make a decision that hurts everyone involved. It's best to choose discomfort over resentment.