Are you starting to worry that your long-distance relationship might not make it?
I imagine you're probably feeling a little bit like a ping pong ball, bouncing back and forth between excitement to see your partner again and the loneliness of being apart. Don't worry; you're not alone in those feelings.
Making a long-distance relationship work takes a lot of effort, patience, and trust, and it's okay to feel overwhelmed sometimes.
But here's the thing: it's also incredibly rewarding. The fact that you're willing to put in the work to keep your relationship strong and healthy is a testament to how much you love your partner. And that's something to be proud of.
So, are you ready to take your long-distance game to the next level?
Let's do this with a 3 Step Process:
Step 1: Set up Expectations
As a relationship therapist who has been helping couples since Ronald Reagan was president, I highly recommend that you adhere to these two ground rules to set you up for success:
Schedule Your Communication
Carve out times for your conversations so that one of you isn’t staring at their phone while the other is clueless. Communication is vital in all relationships, especially when you live apart.
Create Device Ground Rules
What belongs in a text, a phone call, facetime, or a face-to-face meeting?
You can prevent unnecessary frustration and hurt when you agree in advance about what kinds of conversations happen over which device. A good rule of thumb is that text messages are reserved for light, happy stuff, and constructive feedback or unpleasant emotions are better-communicated face-to-face.
Step 2: Choose your Relationship-Strengthening Activities
Once you have these ground rules in place, I recommend finding creative ways to stay connected while you’re apart. Here are some ideas:
1. Take an Online Relationship Personality Assessment Together
Fun quizzes are a great way to look at your relationship dynamics in a light, non-threatening way. They can provide insight into compatibility issues such as conflict styles, love languages, and intimacy preferences. Here is a link to a list of relationship quizzes you might want to take together.
2. Plan Unique Virtual Dates
Try simultaneously cooking the same dinner recipe and then enjoying the meal over face time. Watch the same movie each in your own home, and then talk about your favorite and least favorite parts together. Join an online book club together.
3. Send thoughtful surprises.
Surprise each other with thoughtful gestures like care packages, handwritten letters, or small gifts. These small gestures can make you smile when you least expect it and help you feel loved and appreciated.
4. Provide Reassurance
Sometimes we are so busy feeling insecure that we forget that our partner might also need reassurance as well. You can provide this by reminding them how much you care and are committed to deepening your love. Let them know that even though this long-distance relationship is hard, it’s worth it to you because of how deeply you love them.
Your partner might not ask for reassurance directly, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need it.
5. Plan for the future
Having a shared vision for the future can help you feel more connected to your partner and give you something to look forward to. Talk about your future plans, and then take concrete steps towards making them a reality.
Don’t be afraid to dream together about the bucket lists you want to check off together, the memories you want to create, and the goals you want to reach individually and as a couple
6. Do a relationship workbook together
A communication workbook is a fun way to keep your communication healthy despite living apart. This workbook covers many important topics for maintaining a happy long-distance relationship, from communication strategies to goal-setting and planning for the future. You can each purchase your own copy, read the chapter content on your own, and then do the joint exercises over face-time.
Step 3: Devise Your Action Plan
Share this article with your partner and decide which tips you’d like to try out.
It’s good to start small by choosing one new idea to implement immediately to set yourself up for success. For example, if you choose to take a relationship quiz together, commit to each completing the quiz by the end of the week, share your responses, and then talk about your results on Sunday at noon over Facetime. Put it on your calendars and protect the time.
Now You Have Your Roadmap
Imagine feeling no longer like a ping-pong ball but instead solid in your long-distance relationship. You now have some new ideas for nurturing your love instead of passing the time while you wait for your next in-person meeting.
You’ve got your roadmap – now all you need to do is follow it.
I hope this helps and that you enjoy a delightful, long-lasting love 💕
Ms. Laura Silverstein, LCSW, Certified Couples Therapist, is a relationship expert with over 30 years of experience helping committed couples revive their relationships and find more happiness. You can find her action-oriented advice in places like the New York Times, Real Simple Magazine, and Cosmopolitan. As a seasoned couples therapist, speaker, and trainer for the Gottman Institute, she knows how to help people build a connection, manage conflict efficiently, and have more fun.