How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

7 Couples on Navigating Long Distance Amid Coronavirus

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Countless couples have been separated as governments race to contain the spread of COVID-19, limiting movement of citizens to their home countries and even their own homes.

In some cases, one party was away on business or visiting family abroad when borders closed with little warning. In others, a twosome was already in a long-distance relationship but had to postpone future get-togethers.

Here, seven couples around the world explain how they’re handling their sudden split and share their most creative tips for making it work in the interim.

Communicating through voice recordings and music

When New York City-based musician and actor Randall, 59, booked a gig as a bass player for a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar last fall, he was stoked. His girlfriend of 15 years, Muriel, could visit him on tour in Denver, Austin, and other U.S.

cities. Muriel, 43, a group director at a digital product company, also landed a sweet opportunity: working abroad in her company’s Copenhagen office from December through June. Randall made plans to visit Muriel in Denmark in May—and then the coronavirus hit.

Randall was in Cleveland when the outbreak ramped up. The musical production was being staged for three weeks, but shut down after just two nights.

He grabbed the first flight he could back to NYC to repack, grab his passport, and fly to Copenhagen; if they were going to weather a pandemic, they wanted to do it together.

“I was hours away from boarding a plane when Muriel called me and said the Danish government closed their borders,” Randall says. “I was heartbroken.”

That was March 12. They’ve been FaceTiming twice a day since. “We're resigned to the fact that we missed a small window, and it might be months now before we can see each other again,” Randall says.

When they were first separated in early March, he would stay awake until 3 a.m. so he could “walk” Muriel to work. “She would flip the camera around so that I could see the architecture, sights, and sounds of her neighborhood,” he says. “It looked so beautiful there.

” He also plays new songs for her on his guitar (“I try not to take her feedback too hard”) and sends her voice recordings with snippets of his favorite poems to listen to before bed. They’ve bonded through cooking—setting their alarms, getting their mise en place ready, and chatting through the meal prep.

It’s just their life in New York, says Randall, except “her dinner is at 7 p.m. and mine is at 1 p.m.”

Making travel plans for the future

Vanessa, a 29-year-old American working in human resources, met David, a 29-year-old British creative director, on Tinder six months ago. They were living in Brooklyn at the time and the relationship progressed quickly. Because David’s visa was set to expire in mid-April, he planned a trip abroad to renew it at the American embassy in England while visiting family.

David’s flight to London was scheduled for Saturday, March 14. When President Trump first announced the European Union travel ban on March 12, it excluded the United Kingdom. Within hours of David’s departure just two days later, Trump announced the U.K. ban.

“The immigration system is complicated enough on its own,” says Vanessa. “And now we’re dealing with a COVID-19 response and a U.K./U.S. travel ban. When even your attorney says 'it's uncertain times,' you know you're in a situation.”

David and Vanessa are unexpectedly nearly 5,500 miles apart for the time being.

With David stuck in London for the foreseeable future, Vanessa flew to Los Angeles to hole up with her family.

The couple’s approach now is to make things feel “as normal as possible,” incorporating one another into their new daily routines. In practice, that means sharing recipes and doing mundane things brushing their teeth together.

“I think we talk more apart than we do when we’re together,” says Vanessa, who recently met David’s dad for the first time via video chat.

They’ve also started a list of things they plan to do once they’re reunited in New York, eating at Peter Luger Steakhouse, walking across the Williamsburg Bridge, and sipping cocktails at Bemelmans Bar at the Carlyle Hotel.

“And, of course, we daydream about future travel,” says Vanessa. “I told David that I’ve always wanted to stay in a hut on stilts over the ocean and he told me to google the Seychelles. That’s at the very top of our dream list now.

It sounds romantic and seems very far away from our current realities.”

Handwriting Valentine's Day cards

Billy, 32, a choreographer in the U.K., and Ariel, 29, a performing artist in Hong Kong, were already in a four-year, long-distance relationship when COVID-19 restrictions were enacted. The couple was supposed to meet for a five-week trip in India in March, but canceled after Ariel was unable to secure a visa. The last time they saw one another was over the New Year break.

“We are uncertain when we'll meet up again,” says Billy, who is hoping for a summer reunion. In the meantime, they’ve been arranging video-call movie dates, always pressing play at the same time. “We’re both deaf, so I have my captions in English and she has hers in Cantonese,” he says. “We did that with the TV series Peaky Blinders, too.”

The couple eats one meal a day together: Because of the eight-hour time difference, that usually means breakfast for Billy and dinner for Ariel. In a sweet gesture, Billy recently sent Ariel a Valentine’s Day card written in Cantonese. “It took me a whole day to write one card and it made my wrist ache,” he says, “but it also made me realize how beautiful the Cantonese language is.”

Bonding over the pup

Leila, 28, a director of brand marketing in New York City [Editor's note: Leila is an employee of Condé Nast], and Nikola, 37, a kinesiologist from Belgrade, Serbia, met in Italy in 2016. Leila moved to Florence on a whim, with one suitcase in hand; Nikola was already living there. They met at a friend’s barbecue and were inseparable for nearly four years.

That changed in December when Leila moved to NYC. “It was a whirlwind,” she says. “Nikola proposed on Thursday, I boarded a flight with a one-way ticket on Friday, moved into an apartment I hadn't seen in person on Saturday, and started the dream job I moved back for on Monday.”

The last time the newly engaged duo saw one another was in mid-January, when she made a quick weekend trip to Italy. Nikola is currently quarantined in Florence; Leila is on lockdown in New York.

The travel ban, coupled with visa-related headaches, means they don’t know when they’ll see each other again. “Long distance relationships are hard,” says Leila.

“FaceTime holds you over, but what ultimately gets you through is the end date.”

To keep the fire going, the pair plans virtual date nights where they cook a meal in sync and queue up the same TV show or movie. Nikola also helps Leila practice her Italian.

One of the happiest bonds they share is their dog Sonny, a Golden Retriever/Cocker Spaniel mix living with Nikola in Florence.

The trio FaceTimes together, but when the six-hour time difference proves too tricky, Nikola sends Leila photos of Sonny with captions “Ciao mommy.”

Dressing up for dates

It was a love of salsa dancing and bachata that first brought Megan and Angel together—and it’s also what is keeping them going while separated by a pandemic.

Megan, a 34-year-old U.S. life/business coach and semi-professional dancer, and her boyfriend Angel, a 25-year-old Dominican systems engineer and dance instructor, met at a nightclub in 2015.

They were living together in Santo Domingo for two years, until Megan recently moved to Atlanta for work. The last time they saw one another was over Christmas break, when Angel visited the States.

Megan’s plans to visit him in the Dominican Republic in April have been foiled.

“Before the coronavirus hit, Angel was looking for jobs [in the United States],” says Megan. “But with the state of the economy, it will be much more difficult for him to find work now.” They don't anticipate seeing one another for at least three to six months.

Planning out activities for date nights helps. “On Friday, for instance, we played virtual dominoes, listened to bachata music, and drank wine,” Megan says. “We're also doing a fancy dress-up dinner where we’ll prepare pasta bolognese at the same time over Zoom and then eat together by candlelight.”

Angel and Megan are now dressing up for dancing and date nights over video chat.

Other bonding efforts include simultaneously reading Conscious Loving by Gay Hendricks, partaking in online couples therapy “to make sure our relationship stays strong,” and, of course, dancing. “Angel specializes in salsa and I specialize in swing,” says Megan. “Since we can't dance together right now, seeing each other dance alone is the next best thing.”

Buying a new plant every week

This American-born, Beirut-based couple has been together 24 years—until now. Lorinda, 46, is an international social worker. Brian, also 46, is an artist and the chair of a university art and design department.

He was en route to Casablanca, Morocco to work on a mural project when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Beirut announced its airport would close to all flights on March 18, with 10 days notice for those abroad to return. Thinking he could finish the project in Morocco and fly back before then, Brian stayed.

But the next day, without warning, Morocco shuttered its land, sea, and air borders, stranding thousands of tourists, Brian among them.

“We do not know when he will return,” says Lorinda. “So, I am here, alone in Beirut with our two cats.” The Lebanese government has ordered people to stay at home and instituted a nightly curfew. But Lorinda isn’t just separated from her husband—her whole family is spread out. Her 23-year-old daughter is in Nebraska and her 20-year-old son is on lockdown in Doha, Qatar.

The family leans heavily on and WhatsApp to stay in touch, and Lorinda and Brian read to one another each morning “to make sure we are both up and ready to ‘live the day’, whatever it brings.

” Brian is painting pictures for Lorinda each afternoon, and the couple has agreed to order a plant for every week they are separated. “So far, I have three big new plants, which make me smile each time I water them,” says Lorinda. “They remind me that life is a journey of growth.

This will pass, and we will see each other again, with a new determination to make each day we have together count.”

Working out and solving crossword puzzles

Lara and Ruben, both 28, were just starting a long-distance relationship when the pandemic struck. Lara works as a publicist in New York and Ruben in tech sales in Los Angeles.

The couple met at a wedding in September; and for four months, they flew back and forth every two weeks.

The last time they saw each other was March 7; Ruben’s next weekend visit, from March 20 to 22, was canceled.

Lara and Ruben have taken to Facetime dinner prep—to mixed success.

Lara says it’s been surprisingly fun getting to know one another in such an unexpected way. Originally from Paris, Ruben is tutoring Lara in French.

They’re also screening movies virtually, solving the New York Times crossword together, and tackling the same jigsaw puzzle in their respective homes.

They’ve agreed to stay mutually sober (“We’ve been sending one another different types of coffee to try”) and even purchased Peloton bikes so they can work out together.

They’ve been watching cooking videos from Bon Appétit’s Andy Baraghani, too, and choosing two or three dishes a week to create together. “Ruben has almost no prowess in the kitchen,” jokes Lara, “so it's fun to make mistakes together and see who will set their apartment on fire first.”

“It's a trying time,” she adds, “but if we can get through this, our relationship is set for the future.”

We're reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find all of our coronavirus coverage and travel resources here.


7 Tips For Making A Long-Distance Relationship Work

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work
Aug 19, 2019 · 5 min readPhoto by Henri Meilhac on Unsplash

“Love is a condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” — Robert A. Heinlein

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably in a long-distance relationship.

You text your partner every morning because they are always on your mind immediately after waking up.

Each evening, you count down the days until you are together again.

Every night, you fall asleep on the phone listening to their soothing voice.

You’re in love and have incredible visions for the future. Even though you are far apart, the unified bond within your relationship brings you closer.

You are unbreakable.

“Joy comes to us from those whom we love even when they are absent …; when present, seeing them and associating intimately with them yields real pleasure.” — Seneca

Long-distance relationships are not easy. But you already know that.

Because you are madly in love, willing to travel to the ends of the earth for your partner, and cannot describe the feeling of pure joy you receive each time you are with them.

You are inseparable.

The following suggestions are simply words written on a page. But accompanied by action, they will help to significantly enhance your long-distance relationship.

Are you ready to improve your happiness and levels of intimacy?

Let’s begin.

Remain Optimistic & Positive

“The obstacle in the way becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” — Ryan Holiday

When your lover is far away, it can understandably bring about feelings of loneliness & solitude. But understanding these emotions is the first step to a happier life.

Why are you feeling this way?

How do you want your life to look?

How can you feasibly achieve that vision?

Although you may presently be experiencing negative feelings, use this moment as a chance to understand yourself — so you can improve the future.

Be grateful for the opportunity to be in love, thankful for the chance to call them yours, and to love them every single day.

Remember, you can’t be pessimistic and grateful at the same time.

Have A Sex Life

“Missing someone gets easier every day because even though you are one day further from the last time you saw them, you are one day closer to the next time you will.” — Anonymous

Even though you may be thousands of miles apart, maintaining a sex life with each other is integral to the strengthening of your relationship.

In addition to being a biological need, sexual communication releases hormones and endorphins which strengthen the bond between both of you.

Message your lover saying what you’d to do once you are no longer apart, talk dirty on the phone, or masturbate to each other on FaceTime. There are dozens of options which will allow you to maintain a great sex life with your partner.

View Each Day As A New Opportunity

“If you want to live together, you first need to learn how to live apart.” — Anonymous

You may not be physically together. However, today is an opportunity to grow closer, learn more about your partner, and strengthen the relationship.

You realize what John Lennon meant when he said that “life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

Today is a chance to recommit to your love, create plans for the future, and say how much they mean to you.

Embrace it.

Visit Each Other As Often As Possible

“In life, it’s not where you go, but who you travel with.” — Charles Schulz

After spending weeks, months, or even years apart, visiting each other is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding parts of being in a long-distance relationship.

Visits are the time to look them in the eye & say how much you love them.

Visits are the time to be intimate, embrace your lover, and to spend as much time together as physically possible. Your time is limited. So make the most of it.

Find Creative Ways To Communicate

“The most important thing in communicating is hearing what isn’t said.” — Peter Drucker

You have fallen in love with the person on the other end of your screen. You want to hold them close, tell them you love them, and never to let go. But if you are talking regularly every single day, the conversation is naturally going to be repetitive in some instances.

However, you can increase the meaningfulness of the conversation by finding alternative ways to communicate. For example, GIF messages, Facetime, and Audio calls tend to be more exciting than countless discussions solely on Messenger.

Be Respectful Of Their Timezone

“He who loves others is constantly loved by them. He who respects others is constantly respected by them.” — Mencius

If you are living across multiple timezones, there are going to be occasions where it may be inconvenient to talk.

Communication is fundamental in a long-distance relationship.

Make an effort to create a conversation around the best times to speak each day, moments where it may be inconvenient, and create an agreement that is mutually respectful of each others timezone.

After all, if one person unwillingly has to stay up until 3 am to have the opportunity to talk, it may strain the relationship.

Set up A Date Night

“Begin at once to live, and count each day as a separate life.” — Seneca

This final tip may initially sound difficult as you are in a long-distance relationship. However, it’s very feasible to do.

Each week, schedule a few hours to go on Skype/Facetime so you can look into each other’s eyes, dress up, and treat the moment as if you were physically together. How beautiful is that?

I’m going to leave you with a quote from Nick Cannon:

“You just have to give your all to the relationship you’re in and do your best to take care of your partner, communicate and give them every last drop of love you have.”

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Therapists Share How to Make Long Distance Relationships Work

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Doubts, insecurities, and jealousy can run high in long distance relationships simply because you’re spending so much time away from each other. This is why therapists at Lasting recommend using frequent verbal assurances with one another. They help minimize these negative feelings and clarify where you stand as a couple.

The next time you talk, tell your partner how much you love and appreciate your relationship. And if you’re feeling uncertain about where you stand, don’t be afraid to ask for reassurance for yourself. “I love you and wish we could be together today,” is as wonderful to say as it is to hear.

4. Forge a secure attachment by supporting each other's interests

Whether you’re together or far apart, you and your partner will continue to grow and change as life moves forward. That is both normal and a good thing—even if it forces your relationship to change some in the process.

According to Lasting’s therapists, long distance couples who have a secure attachment together are able to let each other grow and mature. They find ways to stay connected and push each other forward. In a secure attachment relationship, personal growth and change is healthy.  It’s a product of security and safety in the relationship.

One of the best things you can do to promote a secure attachment is supporting your partner as they grow in their individual strengths and interests. While it might be frustrating if her new volleyball practice cuts into your nightly catch-up time, it’s important to encourage her to do what she loves—just as she should for you.

5. Find a way to hang out together while apart.

Research shows that interdependent relationships are proven to be the healthiest form of relationships for marriage.

What does that mean? That means you and your partner do things in sync together while maintaining your own separate identities as individuals.

Chances are your long-distance circumstances are forcing you do to more things independently than you would probably , which is why it’s really important to identify a few activities you can do remotely but together.

According to marriage therapist Liz Colizza, having shared experiences with your long-distance partner increases the cohesion of your relationship. “Finding things you can do together as a couple pays off big time in helping you feel more connected. That’s a huge win when it feels the distance is pulling you in two different directions.”

Whether it’s using Lasting, reading the same book, streaming the same show while talking on the phone, playing games online, listening to the same playlist, or even eating at the same chain restaurant on the same night—all of these can help you and your partner feel more interdependent and, ultimately, more connected.

p.s. Did you know? 94% of couples report new strengths when using the Lasting app together.

6. Learn how to address important issues both remotely and in person.

Whether you’re living under the same roof or oceans apart, all couples need to learn healthy ways to talk about and resolve conflicts. Bigger problems can arise if you ignore little struggles or are unwilling to address sensitive topics.

One military spouse experienced this when she and her husband were dating long distance. “I never felt comfortable bringing up tricky issues over the phone.

But when I went to visit him, I didn’t want to ruin our time together by starting an argument. It created this vicious cycle where I felt I could never share what was bothering me. I would eventually blow up and break up with him.

It was so unfair though, because he had no idea anything was even wrong.”

If you’re struggling to bring up difficult topics, using the Lasting app together can help ease you in to those conversations. Learning how to talk about difficult topics takes time and effort, but it’s essential to the health of your long-distance relationship to not let small problems balloon into bigger ones.

7. Focus on the positive aspects of long distance.

Being separated from the person you’re madly in love with can hardly seem a positive thing. But where you can’t immediately change your circumstances, you can immediately change your attitude.

One of Lasting’s users shared how he came to appreciate his long-distance status. “I know it sounds crazy, but I loved being in a long-distance relationship. I could devote 100% of my attention to my girlfriend when we were together. When we were apart, I focused on classes and spent time with my friends. That worked really well for us while I was in law school.”

Frustrating as it might seem to be separated, try to think of a few ways your long distance relationship is actually beneficial. Do you have more time for hobbies or working out or spending time with friends and family? Make a list of the positive aspects of long distance and focus on these during the harder days when the distance is really getting to you.

8. Respect the reason why you’re apart.

There’s no doubt you’ll have days when your long distance relationship seems especially difficult. You might even be tempted to do something impulsive— quit your job or drop school—just so you can be together with the person you love.

While that might sound romantic, remember there’s an important reason you’re living far away from the person you love right now. That reason may hinge on a professional, financial, or family situation that needs to play out properly until the timing is right for you both to be together geographically.

Don’t let months or years of progress go to waste impatience to finally be together. Your relationship will be stronger in the long run if you finish what you’ve started and finish it well.

9. When the time is right, create a long term plan for merging your worlds.

Anyone who’s been in a long distance relationship can attest to the underlying heartache of being apart from the person you love. If you’re in a relationship with the person you want to spend your life with, at some point you’ll need to craft a plan to join your worlds together.

Whether this involves a wedding, an engagement, a job change or a relocation, be sure your plan considers the right next step at the right time for both people.

Having the hope of being together long term can help you ride out the toughest days of being apart from one another. That little bit of hope can go a long way toward making the one you love seem not quite so far away.

How do you know if the one you’re into is “The One”? Download Lasting and check out the Dating session.


How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Long distance relationships are rarely ideal for couples, but they can be especially difficult for those who have to endure them due to their jobs or unforeseen circumstances, a mandated quarantine.

According to Susan Gadoua, a therapist who specializes in long-term relationships and marriages, long distance couples tend to fall into two categories: those who want to live apart and those who have to live apart.

Some couples are actually happier living apart and have no plans to change it.

Gadoua says they’re typically referred to as “apartners” in the therapy world, and in their case, they want to continue living apart with no end date in mind.

More common, however, are couples forced to live apart because of their careers or family obligations. Gadoua gives the examples of one partner being deployed in the military or having to move to care for a loved one.

Time spent apart (not by choice) can be a natural cause of tension and stress in any relationship. “This stress may include the financial strain of paying two rents or mortgages, lack of co-parenting support, or feeling generally disconnected from each other,” Gadoua says. So what exactly happens when two partners are far from each other? Other than the obvious, why is it so hard?

“Distance can make the heart grow fonder, but it can also feed negativity,” she says. “The distance creates gaps in communication, and when there's a blank space, we tend to fill the space with a negative idea or belief.”

Here are some of the most common issues couples face, and why open conversation is the backbone of a healthy long distance relationship.

RELATED: 6 Signs Your Relationship Is Going to Last

Distance can feed negativity—and it’s not your fault

Oftentimes, if there were any trust issues before living apart, they can be exacerbated by a distant living arrangement. But even without existing tensions, remoteness and lack of contact can create inevitable negative thought loops and affect our capacity for empathy.

“Whenever we have distance from another person—and this goes for any person (a parent, a boss, a friend), not just a significant other—we begin to objectify them,” explains Gadoua. “We see them less as the whole person they are and we begin to see them as the ‘other,’ which can make it easier to be upset with them.”

Don’t bottle things up.

While you’re bound to feel occasionally upset or frustrated at a long distance situation, especially if it’s your control, Gadoua cautions people to be aware of these emotions if they escalate.

“When negative emotions begin to build, it’s time to say or do something to reconnect with your significant other,” she says. “Don’t let things fester and don't wait to say or do something until you're so upset that you might say or do something you regret.”

Become more comfortable addressing conflict

Another red flag to heed is how you’re managing conflicts, specifically if one partner is conflict avoidant. “When upsets are not expressed or talked about, they tend to grow,” she explains.

“These situations can end where the angry partner says they want out abruptly.

Their partner, who had no idea anything was wrong, may feel ambushed and upset because, not only did they not know anything was wrong, they were never given the opportunity to work on the relationship and make things right.”

You’re not physically together, so you can’t interpret body language, intonation, or mood changes. There’s no way to show how you’re feeling—with long distance, you have to tell each other.

RELATED: 10 Healthy Relationship Resolutions Every Couple Should Make

Consistent communication is the key

Gadoua encourages frequent, honest dialogue, and to watch out for long gaps in communication—gaps that weren’t agreed on. “That could be a sign one (or both) of you is distancing emotionally,” she says, adding that relationships can reach a point where there’s so much disconnection it becomes hard to retrieve.

“The good news is that you can generally see this happening and, therefore, take action to get things back on track,” Gadoua says. “Relationships must be nurtured to stay alive.”

Initiate contact in a balanced way

Contact is crucial, and you both have to work to ensure it’s not one-sided. Each member of the couple should work to initiate contact with calls and texts—if only to let the other person know they’re thinking about them.

Designate one-on-one time

Frequent, informal messages are fantastic, but it's also important to pencil in actual moments to talk and focus on each other.

A scheduled video conference with your partner may not sound romantic—but if you think about it, how is that any different from locking in a dinner date reservation and sticking to it? Planning and adhering to phone or video chat “dates” will help you both clear your busy schedules and prioritize each other. No more playing phone tag or misconstruing a missed call.

Don’t be afraid to go old-school

“Sending your significant other cards or gifts in the mail never goes style and tells them ‘you matter,’” Gadoua says. “Maybe it's because the message arrives physically, or perhaps it's knowing your partner went their way to mail you something, but it’s an extra-sweet gesture.”

RELATED: 14 Realistic Signs You’re in a Healthy Relationship


5 Tips for Making a Long-Distance Relationship Work

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Photo: Michael Levin/Corbis via Getty Images

If you’re deciding whether or not a long-distance relationship is right for you and the person you’re with, you might be wondering: How often should you text or talk on the phone or visit each other? How do you stay present in the moment, or happy, when you’re alone and not with them? What kind of routines or ways of communicating will make you closer? Below, anonymous long-distance couples share their advice and tips for making a long-distance relationship work.

As a school teacher in the U.K. system, I got a break every six weeks, so we planned to see each other regularly. We would never leave one another without booking our next trip.

We talked for hours every night on MSN messenger (we weren’t on back then), we sent letters through the mail, and we talked on the phone. We would arrange to watch the same movie and then discuss it later.

When we saw each other, we went out together with our friends so that when we were apart and would say to each other “I am going out with the guys/girls,” we could picture it and feel part of it.

We talked on the phone every day, which of course can be really boring.

You have to talk even when you have nothing to say, and you just end up talking about what you had for lunch, the traffic you got stuck in earlier, a giant wasp nest you saw.

It’s boring stuff, but if you were in the same place it’s all minutiae that you would be experiencing together, and that’s what makes a relationship (to me), so I think it was necessary.

It’s easy to fall into the “vacation” mentality if you only see each other on weekends. I found it was important to try to be with each other for longer periods, so you get to know each other as you go about your routines. I would always want to do “normal” couple things, just hanging around the house and going grocery shopping. Trips to Target were something I really looked forward to.

I’ve always been a chronic texter so anyone I was in a LDR with had to be one also. I communicating about random stuff throughout the day, something funny I heard or sending a picture of something interesting I saw on a walk, and that’s even more important when you can’t see the other person much. I’m also a big fan of sending stuff through snail mail, even if it’s just a silly card.

As a military couple for 13 years, we didn’t have any control over when we could see each other or even if there was access to email or phone. You can’t put your life on hold in those circumstances. As important as it is to invest in your relationship while apart, you also have to invest in your own individual lives.

Prioritize time for friends and family, hobbies, and simple pleasures. That’s actually good advice for any relationship, but it’s particularly important when doing long-distance — you have to create happiness for yourself.

It’s really unhealthy if either partner is burdened with being the sole source of contentment from afar.

Something people say you need in any relationship, regardless of distance, is good communication, but something not often said with long-distance is to not let it get in the way of personal goals. My fiancé and I both had goals that took us away from each other but we were always supportive of each other. You have to be strong as individuals and as a couple.

I fell in love with a Finnish Londoner at a castle in Spain 25 days after my house in San Francisco burned down.

As I moved from friends’ futon to couch to houseboat when I returned home, I was also co-authoring a book entitled — ironically — Calm. I was also just beginning to write a book about finding your voice.

I used Google Docs for both, and that’s where he could find me when he got off work in London.

Before his first visit, we started to go on “dates” in Google Docs, him helping me brainstorm for Calm, and later, doing my book’s exercises together — coming up with life lists, rating checklists of things we d (including some rather, ahem, salacious ones not found in my book), chatting in the Docs about our results. When something was too personal, too raw, too scary, we’d protect it … inside parentheses. It felt we were creating our own 36 Questions before it became a thing. We had fabulous visits other every other month for the year we were long-distance, but in many ways, the distance — and the accidental Deep Shit conversations it enforced — is what helped cement our relationship. Almost six years later, we now have no idea how couples — LDR or otherwise — don’t start out by creating these lists together.

I live in L.A. and my boyfriend lives in Seattle. One of the things that brought us together was our mutual love of classic movies.

We came up with a way to go on “dates” by making a list of movies we’ve always meant to watch individually, and then we alternate choosing one to knock off the list.

We video chat and hit play at the same time, and it packs a one-two punch of seeing each other as well as giving us a common experience.

I think the hardest part about being in a long-distance relationship is finding ways to have those common experiences on a regular basis. You can’t build memories with dates in the same way that couples who live in the same city do, so you have to get creative.

Prior to my leaving our home in San Diego, we made a plan that worked with both our sanities and schedules. We visited each other every three weeks, so we never had to constantly discuss about the next trip or visit — it was just an expectation that whomever’s turn it was to fly would already have a ticket on the expected date.

We had a few things in our favor that made it work: flexible work schedules and a relatively small distance physically between us (being in the same state), but since we set expectations up front, it was clear when we would see each other.

When we visited each other, we made the entire weekend about us — and had no other plans other than to explore our prospective cities (and each other). That way, we could devote the few days we had together entirely to our relationship.

My boyfriend and I made sure to create routines in order to stay emotionally connected. We talk on the phone at the same time every night (9 p.m. his time, 12 a.m.

my time), make sure to send each other snail mail once a month, and most importantly, make an effort to see each other once a month.

Sometimes I visit him in LA or he flies to see me in New York and other times we use our once-a-month visits as an excuse to go on a trip somewhere.

Having tangible things to look forward to was really important — planning our next visit before the current one ended, having a routine of when to talk.

We didn’t have an end date in sight for most of our LDR, so breaking it down into smaller parts made this huge, overwhelming thing seem more surmountable.

We’d talk for about an hour daily during our commutes and tried to see each other every other weekend. I spent a lot of time on Amtrak and would take a 5 a.m. train back to D.C. on Monday mornings.

I definitely didn’t appreciate it at the time, but in hindsight, there were definitely some silver linings. We were both in competitive jobs at the time, with long hours, and it forced us both to set aside time specifically for each other. Now when we’re both sitting at the dinner table in the same apartment replying to work emails on a Friday night, I kind of miss that.

We met through friends and were long-distance when we started dating, so we both put a lot of thought into whether or not we wanted to get involved, knowing that for the foreseeable future it would be a struggle.

We built our relationship on strong communications and from the beginning we were open with each other, which I think is why we survived the distance.

It was always important to me to talk to him when I was frustrated or upset about the fact that we couldn’t just hang out, even if there was nothing that could be done.

Sean and I met right before we graduated college — he already had been accepted into a prestigious video production internship in L.A.

, and I found out about a week after our first date that I was accepted into a graduate program at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. We really had no option — it was break up or make it work.

And crazy as it was, given we’d known each other all of a month by the time we made the choice, we knew there was something too special to give up on.

Honestly, the majority of the time was really hard. We emailed each other all the time — long rambling monologues as well as little notes to share funny things that came into our heads. And we really tried to have phone dates almost every day, although the eight-hour time difference often made that hard.

As this was back in 2007, our laptops weren’t just equipped with video cameras and, frankly, as an intern and a grad student, we didn’t even have the money to put towards those. So we literally didn’t see each other for months on end. It was our voices, often crackling and distorted over Skype, and our emails.

But, at the same time, looking back on it 11 years later, it’s also one of the best things that happened to us. When you’re an ocean and a continent apart, there is no kissing and making up or snuggling past the issues. There’s only talking it out, or not talking it out, using your words to make it work or calling the whole thing off.

We had one huge fight that we both remember very clearly where we got off the phone and neither of us knew if we would be together still the next day. From then on, we realized the only way to get through this was to talk about everything whenever we could, however we could, and however hard. And it’s a lesson we’ve kept to this day.

As for visiting, it simply wasn’t much of an option. We saw each other before I left, in August, and then saw each other at Christmas, and then when I came back. And then the next time was when I moved out to Los Angeles in October 2008 to live with him.

Driving across country to live with a guy I’d spent a total of maybe three months with in person was terrifying. I had no idea if we’d get along as well as we did over Skype or in writing.

But, again, I think that foundation of honesty and talking about everything kept us going even through the growing pains.

Honestly, in the end, I think staying connected was sheer force of will. It sucked. It would have been a heck of a lot easier to go make out with some random Irish guy at a bar. But I knew he was worth it, and he knew I was worth it, so we did what we had to do. In a way, that connected us more than anything.

5 Tips for Making a Long-Distance Relationship Work


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