Ask An Expert: How To Make A Long Distance Relationship Work
There’s no definition of what a “normal” relationship consists of, but when most of us think about having a significant other our minds generally turn to romantic dates, family outings, trips together, Netflix night ins and hungover mornings in bed — so what do you do when it looks like you and your partner are going to apart for some time, or you meet someone that happens to live on the other side of the world? Long-distance relationships are a complete no-no for lots of people, but for some, there’s no other option than to be away from your S/O for some time. We’re not here to say a LDR is the worst thing ever, in fact, they work perfectly for lots of couples, but they definitely take a lot of work, commitment and effort. So how do you know if your relationship can withstand the test of time and go the distance? We asked Relationship Expert for Grapevine Holly Zink what she thinks what are the makings of a successful long-distance relationship.
Independence is vital
Now that you and your other half are living in different cities, states, or even countries, you need to learn how to live your own lives separately. That means having your own jobs, friends, hobbies, and lives. Independence in an LDR is vital so you don’t end up relying on the other person for happiness, which is bad in any relationship whether you’re together or apart.
When you begin an LDR you need to learn how to do all the things you’re used to doing with your partner by yourself. According to Holly, if two people in a relationship are too reliant on each other, it could put an extra emotional strain on your relationship. “When in a long distance relationship, you have to create a healthy balance between being dependent on one another and being your own people,” she says. So it’s super important for you to do things by yourself — meet up with your friends, find a new hobby, and do not sit at home wondering what the other person is doing, wherever they are.
Communication is key
Lots of “normal” relationships work despite there sometimes being a lack of communication on either side. But this just won’t cut it in a long-distance relationship. Because you can’t see each other in person, it’s important to keep a constant flow of healthy communication between the two of you, whether it be via text, video chat, or phone calls. “The phrase ‘communication is key’ especially applies to long-distance relationships,” Holly explains. If you’re applying tip number one to your relationship properly, chances are you’ll be super busy a lot of the time and will sometimes struggle to find time to talk. It’s really important that you take time out of your busy schedule, even just for five minutes, to check in on your bae. “Make time each day to talk to your partner about how their day went,” Holly advises. “Since you can’t talk face-to-face with your partner, try incorporating video chat into your daily or weekly routine. No matter how busy both of your schedules are, communication is something you should never drop the ball on.” Anyone who’s even been in a relationship with incompatible communication methods knows the struggle.
It’s also important to let your partner know when you have an issue with them. A long-distance relationship is different in the sense that you can’t simply see each other to kiss and make up, so if you don’t communicate how you are feeling, anger and resentment will build up. Sure, you don’t want to spend your precious moments FaceTiming or in-person with your love processing a disagreement, but if you don’t talk about what you need to, chances are you won’t have more of that face-to-face time in the long run at all, and you don’t want that, either. Have an open and honest conversation about how both of you feel and don’t leave any problem unresolved. That’s that on that.
Don’t forget about date night!
Although right now you can’t be together in person, it’s important to still share intimate, everyday couple activities with your BF/GF so the relationship can feel somewhat normal in abnormal circumstances — so that means never forgetting about date night. If you had a night a week that you would put aside for each other while you were together, it’s important to keep this going while you’re apart. This is vital to keep the chemistry alive in your relationship, says Holly. “You could both have a romantic dinner together using video chat, or watch the latest Netflix movie at the same time,” she suggests. “Anything to stay connected!” You don’t want your daily call to your significant other to feel like a chore that you begin to loathe, so try video chatting each other from new locations, like your local cafe or favorite brunch spot. Make the same efforts for online date night as you would for date night in person so your partner knows you still care. PRO TIP: Use the Google Chrome extension Netflix Party to sync up your separate screens.
Have an end plan
Like all relationships, it’s only worth it if you see a future together. But to have that future together, it’s necessary for your long-distance relationship to have an end date. “No long-distance relationship can stay ‘long-distance’ forever,” Holly says. “You must have an ultimate end goal, whether it be to move in together in a year or to get engaged or married. What’s the point of continuing your relationship if you both don’t know what you want in the end?” So whether you’re both away at college for four years or one person is away working for an indefinite amount of time, you’re going to have to have that conversation about compromise and deciding who is going to move where and when in the end.
No relationship is easy — traditional or long distance — but certain people make the strain worth it. You just have to know how to do an LDR the right way.