Speaking from experience, long distance relationships are NOT easy. They take trust, patience, & a whole lot of creativity. Speaking with a relationship guru, we discovered a few secret ingredients to make your LDR thrive!
If you find yourself in a long distance relationship, congrats! They’re not easy, so you’re clearly not taking the easy way out when it comes to your love life. I myself was in an LDR for four years during college so I feel your agony! The good news is, they ARE survivable, and if the two of you come out of it on the other side, your relationship will undoubtedly be a heck of a lot stronger and more mature. In other words, if you put in the work, LDRs are definitely worth it. After years of doing the long distance thing, my BF and I have been living in the same city now for three years, and yes, we are still together. We’re not the only success story though.
Speaking with Rhonda Findling, relationship expert and author of the bestselling and internationally acclaimed Don’t Call That Man! A Survival Guide To Letting Go, we narrowed LDR success down to six major factors. Not only is it important to keep your romance alive — hello Skype dates — but it’s also essential for every healthy LDR to have respect and trust among other things. For starters, Rhonda suggests jumping in feet first, and being unafraid to put in real work.
“You have to make an effort. You can’t be casual about a long distance relationship,” Rhonda told us. “I think a mistake is to not put a lot of effort into it. There has to be a certain amount of commitment involved — if there isn’t, it will turn into a disaster. Essentially, you have to be very aware.” Rhonda also explained the importance of communication. Because you’re not seeing each other as much face-to-face, you’re going to have to rely on a lot of texting and emailing. “You have to be careful with what you’re saying and how you’re saying it,” Rhonda said. “Things can easily be misconstrued over technological devices.”
For relationship expert Parrott Les, the number one mistake an LDR couple can make is falling into a rut. “When the relationship is long distance it’s easy to simply phone or FaceTime around the same time every day and simply report in on your day. Blah. Keep it lively. Surprise each other. Send an unexpected message or a little gift,” Parrott advised. Even better, build a strategy together. “Make a plan that fits your personalities,” Parrott suggested. “For example, you might both read the same book and discuss it when you connect. You may even want to take a little relationship assessment to help you grow stronger while you’re apart (see DeepLoveAssessment.com). The point is to help your relationship grow deeper and stronger while you are apart.” And on that note, our first tip:
Tip #1: Be strategic. Make sure to plan when you’re going to see each other in person next. This not only shows commitment, but it gives both you and your partner something to look forward to. “I think it’s really good to be very structured about when you’re going to see each other. I think it creates a lot of anxiety when you don’t know — when your time together is too up in the air,” Rhonda said. “The best thing to do is to plan the next time you’re going to actually see each other in person. And then follow through.” This should essentially be a never-ending discussion and, in most circumstances, you should never NOT know when you’ll see each other next.
Tip #2: Still go on dates. Just because you can’t physically go to the movies arm-in-arm doesn’t mean you have to ditch romance all together. Have a Skype dinner date where you set up a certain time to eat while you unwind from your day and video chat. Watch a movie or TV show together over the phone — although you can’t snuggle, you’ll have someone to talk about it with afterward. Make it a routine to call your partner every day on your way home from school or work — or maybe right before bed. Making time for each other is even MORE important when you’re not automatically going to see them every night. But as Parrott said, make sure to keep things fresh!
Tip #3: Remember that little gestures go a long way. During our LDR, my boyfriend and I would write letters to each other every week — yes, I’m talking actual snail mail. It felt intimate and romantic and it was something unique and special to us. Since writing and mailing a letter takes more time, it also served as a reminder that we cared enough to put in the extra effort to make each other smile. Goodnight and good morning texts are another great way to stay connected when you’re apart. Sometimes if I was having a really bad week, my boyfriend would even send me flowers. You can do the same with a favorite meal or candy using certain online services like Postmates.
Tip #4: Don’t underestimate the power of communication. “I think that long distance relationships only work if both parties are really determined to make it work. If one person is not completely into it — it’s going to make it harder for the other person,” Rhonda said. “There has to be some kind of commitment — and I’m talking about a commitment to making it work, not necessarily to being exclusive. You have to keep the communication going.” Rhonda explained that you should have contact between the two of you “going on all the time.” “If one person is not very communicative, it’s going to hurt the other person’s feelings,” she said. “Think about it, if you knew you were going to see the other person every other weekend, you can tolerate not talking all the time — you won’t necessarily feel hurt by a ‘thumbs up’ emoji as your only communication for the day. But if you’re not going to see that same person for months at a time, it’s different — every text really matters. You want to know they care.”
Tip #5: While you both need to be 100 percent all in, visiting doesn’t have to be a 50/50 thing. For Rhonda, you don’t need an “I-visited-you-now-you-visit-me” mentality. “At least ONE person needs to visit and have the means to visit, but not both,” Rhonda explained. “Not everybody likes to get on a plane — some people are very uncomfortable traveling, but at least one of you has to be flexible about traveling. Some people just don’t have the money or the health.” We full heartedly agree. Visiting is essential. Period. But if one person can’t afford it or just doesn’t enjoy traveling, the other person needs to be willing to pay at least semi-regular visits.
Tip #6: Have trust and always — always — be respectful. “You have to be very strict with social media if you’re having a long distance relationship with someone,” Rhonda said. “You can’t post pictures with just anyone or be super flirty with other people. You have to be respectful of each other’s feelings — especially when it comes to your online presence.” This is also where trust comes into play. You should be able to have as many guy friends as you want and have your significant other be ok with that. But again, don’t try to make the other person jealous — just be cognizant of what you’re putting out there. “You just have to have trust in the person — you have to,” Rhonda said. “Or else it won’t work.”
It’s also important to not be afraid to call it quits if it’s just not working. Be honest with yourself and with the other person. LDRs are definitely not for everyone, and that’s ok. Rhonda said that you know it’s over when the relationship becomes “too painful and depleting for you.” “If you’re in a lot of pain and your life is no longer productive — if you’re constantly upset,” then it’s time to say goodbye.
Above all though, have fun! Relationships are SUPPOSED to be fun, and long distance ones are no different. If anything, use your LDR as an excuse to focus more on yourself while still having a partner in crime to turn to. “I think you should also not be so serious about it, just enjoy it,” Rhonda said. “It’s exciting to have a relationship with someone who lives in a different place. Try to have fun with it!”
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — do you think you could make a long distance relationship work?