Can Long-Distance Relationships Ever Really Work?

Maybe you have a boyfriend or girlfriend who’s in college out of state, or perhaps they’re taking a job states away. Or, maybe you just met someone online that you click with who happens to be on the other coast. These days, it’s more common than ever. And with many of us working remotely this year, it’s more likely to meet someone who lives a few hundred miles away before meeting someone local at the bar. Here are some solutions to help your long-distance relationship beat the odds.

  1. Schedule time for each other. Life can often get in the way, and it’s very easy to put off a phone call or Zoom session if you’re just not feeling it. Canceling on your long-distance partner too much will tell them that they’re not a priority in your life. If you really want this to work, make time for them — and actually show up. Long-distance relationships require a little more effort than standard relationships. If you’re too exhausted to factor them in, it’ll never pan out.
  2. Don’t take all texts too seriously. It can be really hard to read tone in a text. If you feel like a disagreement may be brewing, call them on the phone or schedule a FaceTime. It’s much easier communicating when you can hear someone’s tone or look at their face as they talk. Otherwise, you may end up having a lot of petty arguments about nothing. If you’re already having a bad day, reading a message of “k” might make you assume that they’re mad at you when they’re not.
  3. Plan visits. It’s hard now with the coronavirus, but it’s still important to get dates on the calendar — even if they eventually get canceled. If they don’t work out based on restrictions or if someone gets ill, plan a FaceTime for that day and reschedule it for when you can. Just show your partner that you’re serious about seeing them, and aren’t afraid to spend time with them in person.
  4. Always ask questions. Keep the relationship alive by always asking questions that you may have asked during in-person dates. What’s their family life? What are their career goals? Do they have any pets? Would they want a pet in the future? What did they study in college or through other educational programs? By asking questions, you’re strengthening your emotional bond and testing whether or not you’re actually compatible. Spend time getting to know them.
  5. Have a game plan. You don’t have to talk about this during the first month or so of long-distance dating, but it’s important to develop a game plan with your significant other. Long-distance can’t last forever. Do you plan on moving? Is there an idea in place that you’re slowly working towards? By creating a goal, the relationship will get a lot easier because you both know that the distance will end someday soon.
  6. Find new ways to express love. Long-distance relationships are hard on people who really value physical intimacy in a relationship. To keep things alive, think up other ways to form both intimate and sexual connections with your partner from far away. It’s also important to use this opportunity to really get to know your partner mentally and emotionally. Partake in long chats, talk about big topics, and don’t feel guarded if you ever want to pour your heart out. Vulnerability is often how love grows.
  7. Send mail. It’s amazing how surprise packages and letters can brighten someone’s day. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, stuff like this will only strengthen your bond. You want your partner to know that you’re always thinking about them, even if they’re not around. You don’t have to break the bank with gifts, either. Small packages and mementos should work perfectly.
  8. Try to look for projects you can do together. It can be a podcast, or even just watching movies together while on the phone. Find something interactive to do that’ll make you forget that your significant other isn’t right by your side. It’ll keep the relationship interesting, and help stabilize your connection even more.
  9. Keep an eye on temptations. It can be really hard if you’re missing your significant other and they’re not around. This puts you in a dangerous zone, especially if you’re out with friends. Even if you’re not the cheating type, sometimes temptation can happen — and even if nothing physical takes place, it might make you feel bad. Remind yourself how strong your relationship is prior to going out. Or, schedule a call before and after you go out, to help keep your partner fresh in your mind. If you have friends pushing you towards making bad decisions, consider spending less time with them. No real friend should actively try to sabotage a relationship.
Karen Belz is a New Jersey native who is currently living in Maryland. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication with a focus in Broadcasting and Print Media Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Since graduating, she has written for sites like LittleThings, HelloGiggles, and Scary Mommy and is currently an e-commerce editor at Bustle.

When she's not writing, she enjoys making her phone run out of memory after taking too many photos of her dog. You can find her on Twitter @karenebelz or on Instagram @karenbelz.