Maintaining a relationship can be hard work. Trying to maintain a happy one when you are thousands of miles away from each other can feel like nothing short of a Herculean task. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Communication noted that approximately 3 million Americans at some point or the other during their relationship live away from their spouses for a period of time. Distance can put a strain on any relationship. However, studies have shown that absence can truly make the heart grow fonder, and couples in a long-distance relationship can achieve the same amount of satisfaction, if not more, than if they were in the same place.
For some, the distance can be greater than for others, but the difficulty remains the same whether your partner is in the next state or a totally different continent. Like any other relationship, it simply requires dedication, commitment, and love. With the growth of technologies designed to allow us to connect with people all over the world, distance need only be physical and never emotional. These tips will help you keep the spark alive no matter how far apart you may be from your significant other.
1. Sync your clocks
When staying away from your partner, it’s good to keep track of each other's time. For those couples separated by only a few hundred miles, it is still helpful to sync your watches so you are both on the same time table. For couples dealing with different time zones, it’s always good to keep your world clock updated, and know the times that your partner is awake. This can help you to create viable schedules for talking that don’t affect your or your partner's day to day life. There’s nothing like frequent accidental phone calls at 3 am to put a damper on an otherwise happy relationship.
2. Know each other's schedules
Aside from simply avoiding late-night phone calls due to different time zones, it’s also good to be aware of your partner's daily schedule. This can help ensure you don’t end up disrupting your partner's regular routine, as well as determine ideal times for talking. Knowing your partner's schedule can also make it easier to send gifts to them, order food for them, and even plan surprise visits. It’s also beneficial so you have a better understanding of how your partner spends their days, which can help facilitate closeness.
3. Gift a personal object for the other to hold on to
The object you gift to your significant other can be anything from a piece of jewelry, like a brooch or a ring, to something larger, like a book, a framed photograph or album, or an item of clothing. Of course, there are likely to be a number of gifts exchanged over the course of a relationship, as years go by and birthdays and holidays happen. However, this gift will ideally be the first or among the first gifts given and should be of great sentimental value. It should serve as a positive memory of you, and the love you and your partner share.
4. Participate in each other's major social events
It goes without saying that regular visits should be planned as often as possible. However, it is important to try and organize visits around major events that would allow you to interact with the regular social circle of your partner as well as share special occasions and create new memorable moments. These include birthdays, holidays, weddings, family gatherings, and other types of celebrations. It is also important to be there for your partner on sad occasions, like farewells, and during times of grief as a source of solace and support.
5. Have a good collection of apps to stay in contact
Technology is the best friend of every long-distance couple. It is, of course, advisable to have a good international and roaming cellphone plan, depending on where your partner is. However, once you have the internet working (no matter where you are), you will still need the right apps to stay in touch. Have a good app for messaging, like Whatsapp, that has a wide range of emojis (emotional icons), and many media-sharing features. In case your plan restricts international calls, apps like Viber are great for free calls, and it is advisable to have another app for video calls like Skype, which also offers screen-sharing options.
6. Have a good relationship with your friends and family around you
Sometimes, the best thing for your relationship is to not focus on your relationship. It’s important to remember that you both are individuals with your own lives, whether you're in the same city or on opposite ends of the planet. It’s important to maintain strong relationships with your friends and family and find people you enjoy spending time with, places you enjoy being and things you enjoy doing on your own.
Take up hobbies and allow your passions to grow so that you may share them with your significant other, as opposed to relying on them solely for enjoyment.
7. Have regular knowledge of each other's friends and family
When you have your own routine in place, it’s important to share the different aspects of your routine with your partner. Life is all about the tiny adventures and incredible stories we can fill it with. The best part of making stories is telling them to someone. The more stories you and your partner have for each other, from seemingly insignificant conversations with friends to major events and daily activities, the closer you will feel to each other.
By sharing your stories with each other, you ensure to remain a part of each other's lives and gain familiarity with the people in your partner's life. This will also ease the process of meeting and getting to know your partner's friends and family.
8. Enjoy some flirtatious conversations
A huge part of relationships is enjoying some physical comfort with your partners, like hugs, kisses and the like. Obviously, this becomes significantly more infrequent when distance enters into play. Playful banter and light flirting may not make up for the lack of physical contact, but it’s a great way to keep sparks flying between you both and reaffirm your attraction for one another. It can also help draw a line between your connection with each other and with others.
9. Do stuff together even when you’re apart
Being apart doesn’t have to mean not being a part of each other's lives. Beyond just sharing stories, you can create stories together even if you are thousands of miles apart. Certain activities can be shared by the two of you, such as selecting a book for both of you to enjoy and discuss, or, thanks to technology, playing a virtual game (like chess or scrabble), or watching movies or shows together using video-calling apps and screen-sharing apps. It’s the next best thing to sitting on the couch together and watching them.
10. Stay updated with each other's social media
It has become quite common in today’s world to connect with people through social media, with most online forums being a hub for displaying people’s day to day activities. Chances are high that your significant other is sharing most of his or her adventures with you, but their social media page is also likely to be filled with more details, perspectives from friends and family, and an endless supply of pictures, which makes the task of story-sharing easier on both of you.
11. Remind each other (and yourself) frequently about the things you love in your relationship
This one probably seems obvious but deserves a mention nonetheless. One of the greatest challenges faced in a long-distance relationship is emotional disconnectedness. It is very rarely intentional, but as days get longer and nights get shorter, it can be difficult to give your partner the energetic attention and emotional comfort you have likely been giving them for a while.
The same may be true of your partner. At times, you will be feeling the gap widening. At those moments especially, it is important to remember the things you enjoy about the relationship, such as movies watched together, places traveled to, and memories shared.
12. Make a regular habit of communicating with each other about big and small issues
Communication is key in a long-distance relationship, as it is the major source of comfort for both partners. Small issues, such as confrontations with co-workers or missed appointments with friends may seem minute, but being able to talk about them comfortably with your partner and allowing them to do the same with you creates the foundation for discussing bigger issues.
The bigger issues are likely to be those related to family, health, and the future, whether it requires setting a designated end date for the distance or making other appropriate plans to be together.
13. Send each other gifts and letters through snail mail
Commitment and confidence are very important in any relationship, but in long-distance relationships especially, given the large stretches of time during which communication may be difficult. Planning out and sending gifts and surprises in advance is a great way of letting your partner know that you have faith in the strength of your relationship. Sending mail to your partner that reaches them over time can also have a similar effect. This is an excellent way of showing affection and adoration from a distance, and that you’re willing to go the extra mile for your significant other.
14. Give each other pet names
This may not be of vital importance, but it plays a big role in making your significant other feel “significant”. Pet names are usually only given and used by those closest to us and with whom we share a special bond. In a long-distance relationship, it is likely to be a name that appears on your phone frequently and one that brings joy to you whenever you see it.