Apparently, absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Communication, people in long-distance relationships were more likely to share meaningful thoughts and feelings with their partners than those who were not. Apparently, couples in long-distance relationships tend to idealize their partners’ behaviors, which leads to a greater sense of intimacy.
That’s all well and good, but being apart is definitely trying at times, even for couples with a relatively strong foundation. How do you get through it? Below, people familiar with the long-distance relationship struggle share their tried and true advice.
Tip 1: Be ready to work twice as hard as you did before.
“During college, my now-husband (then-boyfriend) went to school year round in Utah while I stayed behind and finished up high school and then attended a local college. Even though we were young, we knew our relationship was the one worth fighting for so we were determined to get through those years. We have now been together a total of 12 years and have been married for the last five. One thing we’ve learned? You need to work toward having a very strong, solid base to your relationship when you’re long distance. Be open, honest, and trusting. Take the time to figure out how and when is best to communicate with each other. Work at making each other feel special, even without seeing each other. All the things you work on during a normal relationship will need extra effort for in a long distance relationship.” ― Alexandra Starkovich, blogger at My Urban Family
Tip 2: Establish some ground rules about when you’ll see each other.
“My husband and I did long distance for five and a half years in total, with me working and going to school in Toronto and him in school in Florida. We had a rule to never go more than six weeks without seeing one another in person and we pretty much stuck to that. We were still living apart when we got married and it took one year after we were married for my green card to arrive, at which point I moved to the states in 2013.” ― Allison Bowsher, freelance writer
Tip 3: Call and text each other throughout the day.
“My wife and I have had to do the long distance thing twice in our relationship. When we first met she lived about an hour away in San Jose and I lived in San Francisco. After we got married I was working in San Francisco and she was in Los Angeles and we only got a few days a month to see each other. We learned that you have to call and text each other during the day and share what’s going on. In other words, don’t wait to do it all in a phone call at the end of the day when you are tired. Make your partner part of your daily life.” ― Matty Staudt, writer and general manager at Urban Knights Radio
Tip 4: Don’t forget to schedule regular Skype dates.
“It’s really essential that you and your partner have a schedule for when you’ll talk. We’re fortunate that we have so many different modes of contact these days, but texting is not enough to keep a long-distance relationship going. To maintain a strong relationship, you need to talk on the phone, but preferably something like Skype, as often as you can!” ― Anna Genevieve Louise, blogger at The Wanderlust Collective
Tip 5: Try to think of the big picture.
“This was really important in the grand scheme of things. My partner and I met in university and had been together for about three and a half years before he had to leave Nigeria for his masters degree in the U.K. in 2011. We were apart for about two years. We had to constantly remind ourselves that the distance was for a short while and as we really wanted to be together, we had to make it work. This sort of gives a perspective on things and helps sail through any difficulties. It also helped in our future plans, as I was more inclined to go consider the U.K. for my own masters program, so that we could be together.” ― Kachi Tila-Adesina, blogger at Kachee Tee
Tip 6: Celebrate everything.
“My husband I had had known each other in college. He left for the Navy, and then we started dating. At that point, we were a few states away. Right after we became engaged, he was deployed overseas for a year. What we learned is this: Celebrate everything, even if you can’t be together in person. Life is too short not to and that’s especially true when you’re in a long-distance relationship.” ― Jo, blogger at Jo, My Gosh! and co-author of Modern Military Spouse: The Ultimate Military Life Guide for New Spouses and Significant Others
Tip 7: Get a credit card that earns airline miles.
“I was located in New York City while my husband Matt was in Miami Beach. We had a commuter relationship for two years. I was able to get complimentary flights almost every other month this way from my American Express card. Make sure to pick a card with an airline component so you can rack up the points.” ― Emily Nolan, model and blogger at My Kind of Life
Tip 8: Don’t worry if every visit isn’t perfect.
“There’s so much pressure with visits when it comes to long-distance relationships. Do you hang out with your partner and friends in a social setting or stay home to have one-on-one time? Does your family want to spend time with your partner? Does one of you need to work or study during the visit? Is there a big conversation hovering like an elephant in the room and do you have that talk face to face, when you have limited time together, or over the phone later? Some trips will be full of great memories and carefree times, and some will be full of fighting over big or small issues and that’s OK! ‘Real’ relationships are full of ups and downs and long-distance relationships are no exception.” ― Allison Bowsher