Couples in long-distance relationships often face a particular set of challenges: different time zones (it could be early morning in one place and bedtime in another), shoddy cell service or WiFi connection on top of the heartache of going long stretches of time without seeing each other face-to-face.
While maintaining an “LDR” isn’t easy, it isn’t impossible. And if you can weather the challenges, you’ve likely built a strong foundation for the future of the relationship.
“To all those thinking whether they can handle a long-distance relationship, my answer is: it’s definitely doable, as long as you stay committed, loyal and willing to cut the distance short one day,” writer Olga Baker told HuffPost. “Being far from each other is definitely a challenge, but it’s overcoming such obstacles that makes love stories special, memorable and treasured. If the person is right for you, the sacrifice will be well worth it.”
Below, people who have had firsthand experience with long-distance relationships reveal what they did to keep their bond strong when they were far apart.
1. They make it a point to talk every day, even when they’re busy or not in the mood.
“In the four years that we were in a long-distance relationship, we talked almost every day. Sometimes our call lasted three hours, sometimes 15 minutes. But we understood how important it was, so we set it, by default, in our calendars. We didn’t question it, and we did it regardless of whether we felt like it or not.” ― Milena Nguyen
2. They separate update conversations from connection conversations.
“Like most couples, the bulk of our texts, calls and Skypes are daily life check-ins: How was work? What did the doctor say? Did you see that news story? How are the kids? Important, but not very intimate. We balance those updates with deeper, less-distracted conversations that help us remember we’re still a couple in love — not just efficient life partners. We ask: What’s going on in your heart? Or talk about trips we want to take or what we love about each other.” ― Cris Gladly
3. They schedule ‘date nights’ when they eat a meal and watch a show or movie together over FaceTime.
“Something that my husband and I like to do is have date nights via FaceTime. We set aside time to order our favorite food and watch a movie or our favorite show together. Having each other on FaceTime makes it feel like he is really there with me. Also, knowing that you have date night coming up gets you excited and gives you something to look forward to after a long day of work or school.” ― Stephen Maraffino
4. They send each other postcards and love letters.
“During our long-distance relationship, we sometimes didn’t see each other for as long as four months. Getting ‘real mail’ was awesome because we got to pick out postcards for the other, and there’s nothing like getting surprise mail when usually all we got in the mail was boring stuff.” ― Becca Siegel and Dan Gold
5. They start a new project together.
“Aside from the conventional emails, WhatsApps, Google Hangouts and FaceTimes, we started an Instagram account as a project that we could work on together during long distance! We called it @halfhalftravel because it’s always half of what each of us were doing, wherever in the world we each were located as we traveled apart from each other for 12 months. This was both challenging and fun!” ― Siegel and Gold
6. They find little excuses to celebrate each other instead of waiting for a big occasion.
“At every instance we can, my husband celebrates me and I return the support. Whether it’s the huge honor of being his ‘Woman Crush Wednesday’ (WCW) on Facebook, him sending me ‘just because’ flowers or him just making me feel appreciated during difficult times. By celebrating one another and celebrating our personal, our children’s or our loved one’s accolades, we’re able to remain focused on us and reflect on the many blessings we have.” ― Tren B.
7. They hide little notes in each other’s suitcases after a visit.
“When we are packing his suitcase before he leaves, I’ll write little notes and stash them in different parts of his bag. That way, when he goes to grab a pair of socks or his shower stuff, he’ll get a little reminder of how much I miss and love him and how much he means to me.” ― Kieran Gregg
8. They plan something special for each visit so they always have something to look forward to.
“Sometimes it’s a getaway weekend and sometimes even just a simple date night. Making a plan ahead of time helps me have something to look forward to when it seems like the days are dragging on and he’s been gone forever.” ― Gregg
9. They do their favorite activities at the same time over video chat so it feels like they’re doing them together.
“Couples in long-distance relationships often feel deprived of togetherness, the feeling of sharing an experience. Thanks to technology, we can make up for it. Our favorite things to experience together were cooking together and watching a movie together. How? Simply keep your audio or video chat on.” ― Nguyen
10. They send each other care packages or surprise gifts in the mail.
“I used to draw often for her and ship gifts directly to her home, like flowers or other kinds of goodies. I’m always kind of amazed about how easy it is to put together gifts even when you’re so far apart!” ― Simone Ferriero
11. They make the most of the time they have together in person.
“When we flew out to meet each other, we always tried to maximize our time together. We would travel, try new foods, meet each other’s friends and families and essentially do everything to grow deeper into one another’s lives. Then during the months apart that followed (long, loooooong months), all this experience would give us something to reminisce about ― and to look forward to.” ― Baker
12. They utilize technology to find new ways to connect.
“We used the app Couple, which had a cute feature called ‘thumb kiss’ where you could see where your partner’s thumb was on the screen in live time and when both of your fingers met, it would vibrate (or ‘kiss’). There was also an app called LokLok where we drew cute little messages and such on each other’s lock screens. We used basically anything we could find technology-wise to help us feel connected outside of the standard call or text.” ― Tabby Freeman