In our increasingly global society, many people are finding love online. Chances are either you or someone you know has made a connection—romantic or otherwise—with someone they never would have met if it weren’t for the Internet. It’s also become increasingly common for one partner in a relationship to have a job or educational opportunity abroad, forcing the couple to consider a long-distance relationship. Indeed, many couples—about 14 million, according to StatisticsBrain.com—choose to go this route, making it a legitimate relationship arrangement with every bit as much potential for success as “traditional” relationships. And while maintaining a relationship miles apart can seem daunting, there are a number of things you can do to help make it work.
Whether you’re weathering a temporary stint apart or maintaining a romance that started as a cross-country or cross-continental affair, here are some tips for making it work and making it last.
1. Remember to include the minutia
One aspect of long-distance relationships that is particularly challenging is one that is often overlooked: the fact that the day-to-day details often get lost in conversation. You and your partner may only talk once or twice a day, and so it’s hard to fit in all the little details that make up the happenings of your life. These little details may seem trivial compared to the depth of feeling you have for one another, but it’s exactly these little details that make for a truly intimate relationship. So relay that silly joke a coworker told you or that embarrassing moment at the bank. Really, share the highlight of every day, even if it was just finding a new pair of shoes.
2. Find creative ways to share your time
Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean you can’t do fun things together. The internet is an amazing tool for carving out quality time together. Lifehack.com suggests that you should play an online game or watch a movie together. Even better: pick a television series you can watch all the way through together. This way you’re not only spending time together, you’re setting aside an activity that is only for the two of you, which adds to the feeling that you are both in this together.
3. Conquer the awkwardness of long-distance sex
It may feel awkward to talk dirty on the phone or send sexy pictures or texts, but once you get over the awkwardness of it all, these virtual intimate moments can be quite fun. Even partners who live in the same city can enjoy the benefits of a good sext! Of course, as with anything having to do with sex, it’s important to be safe about it. As AdamEve.com points out on their blog, once a sext is sent it’s out there forever. “Sure, your relationship is great now,” they caution, “but what happens if there’s a messy break up?” Not that you want to assume the worst about your partner, but it’s important to consider the consequences of your sexts getting into the wrong hands.
4. Send surprise gifts
As with any relationship, a surprise gift tells your partner you’re thinking of him or her. This is doubly true in long-distance relationships, which are even more susceptible to feeling one-dimensional. There’s nothing quite like receiving a gift you know your partner has physically selected and put in the mail. Sexy gifts, like lotion and underwear, are a great choice because they also evoke the physical touch.
5. Write an old-fashioned letter from time to time
Like a surprise gift, a surprise piece of snail mail will make your partner feel special and cared for. Again, there’s just something about knowing your partner has physically touched the piece of paper you’re reading. Add a dab of your cologne or perfume to the paper so he or she really feels your presence on the page.
6. Try to Keep Jealousy at Bay
Naturally, you and your partner are going to be hanging out with other people while you’re apart, just like you would if you were in the same city. Of course, when there are miles between you and the thing you want most in the world is to be with your partner, it’s easy to let the green-eyed monster get the better of you. When you see pictures of your partner at a park or at a concert with his or her friends, it’s only natural to feel envious. But if left unchecked, these feelings can turn into resentment, which is a breeding ground for mistrust. And trust, after all, is the key element of any successful relationship, long distance, or otherwise.
It’s definitely fine to do things with other people, but be careful not to blow off a phone call with your partner to go see a movie with a friend. On the flip side, it’s important that you don’t expect your partner to stay in all the time waiting by the phone. PBS.org stresses that affirmations of commitment can really help in these situations. You don’t have to refrain from doing fun things in order to keep your partner from feeling left out. Just make sure to tell your partner that you wish he or she could be with you. Send a picture and the message “wish you were here.” It’s far better to emphasize your commitment and keep your partner in the loop than to shield your partner from the fun you’re having. Most importantly, talk about your expectations. Set up boundaries beforehand so that you and your partner are on the same page.
Hopefully, with a lot of communication and a little creativity, you can discover that a successful long-distance relationship doesn’t have to be a long-shot.