s someone in their early twenties and in college, I am no stranger to being in a long-distance relationship. During my freshman year of college, my boyfriend and I lived an hour and thirty minutes apart while attending school. Some would call this a “medium distance” relationship. Nonetheless, we couldn’t see each other much due to the pandemic so it felt like a long-distance relationship. Not to mention that during the winter and summer breaks he was home in Long Island and I was in Western Pennsylvania. 

I’m not an expert on how to survive the ups and downs of a long-distance relationship but I do have suggestions. I don’t want to sugar anything either. The truth is making a long-distance relationship work is difficult. However, it is possible and I’m living proof of that. I’ll be celebrating 3 years with my partner very soon. 

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Why long-distance relationships are hard
  • Harsh facts about long distance relationships 
  • How to make long-distance relationships work 
  • Activities for long-distance relationships 

Why are long-distance relationships hard?

Long-distance relationships are hard because they don’t operate like traditional relationships and we try to force them to. Instead, we need to tailor our expectations and create long-distance relationships differently. 

A major aspect of long-distance relationships is the distance. Sometimes your partner is in another time zone or another continent. It can be difficult to talk with them and feel connected when trying to fit your interactions around school, work, social life, or hobbies. The older we get the harder it is to maintain a long-distance relationship because we have more responsibilities. At your college, you can afford to drive three hours on a Friday after class. When you're 25 with an office job and don’t get home until 6 pm driving anywhere is a difficult task. 

image of a globe that depicts the distance between two people 
Don’t let distance stop you from finding your life partner. Image courtesy of Oprah Daily.

The hardest part of maintaining a long-distance relationship is the fact you have seen other couples holding hands, spending the holidays together, and going out on dates. We start to make comparisons and that becomes the downfall of everything. We become angry and sad. The emotions are valid but sometimes become directed at our partners when it isn’t their fault. 

Harsh facts about long distance relationships 

There is nothing easy about long-distance relationships so if they're going to work they make an effort. We have to put in effort even when we have none to give because if we don’t the relationship will fail. 

If you don’t have trust you don’t have anything

Any relationship needs trust to survive but in long distance relationships it's critical. I think if you’re in your twenties it's hard because they might be going to parties and bars for the first time. There's always going to be that voice wondering if they are secretly cheating or if they have a girlfriend they aren’t telling you about. There isn’t anything wrong about the thought popping into your head but don’t start fights and throw around false accusations. 

Be truthful always. One small lie can tarnish the foundation of your truth and it might not be so easy to come back from that. I would even advise against small white lies to be on the safe side. 

You have to communicate

A large component of establishing the trust you need in a long-distance relationship is discussing your boundaries. It’s important to discuss early on what you think is cheating, what actions you find disrespectful, and what you need out of a relationship to feel loved. It's possible that each of you will have different answers so you need to come to an agreement before there is a miscommunication. 

Something that a lot of people skip over is discussing how often you want to text or call. One person may need to text throughout the day to feel connected to their partner. However, someone else might prefer reconnecting at the end of the day instead. 

Ideally, you’ll want to come to a compromise that you’ll be satisfied with. You don’t want the quality of your conversation to suffer for the sake of quantity. 

Two people on the phone with each other as they sleep.
Sometimes saving a long-distance relationship is as simple as falling asleep on the phone. Image courtesy of Dovey Dates.

Sometimes the distance isn’t the problem 

It may be hard to hear but sometimes the issue isn't that the relationship is long distance. The problem may be that you just aren’t compatible. At the end of the day you still need to be able to have a friendship with the person you’re dating. You need to ask yourself, do they make you laugh? Can they make you smile when you’re upset? Do you have things in common? Are they a good person? 

Sometimes we get so stuck on trying to make the relationship work and proving that we can survive long distance that we forget we need to be compatible with this person. 

Ending any relationship is an emotional decision that we don’t make easily. However, don’t get lost in trying to make the relationship work just for the sake of proving others wrong. 

Both people have to be invested 

If your partner ignores your text for hours or can’t spare five minutes to talk to you then long distance won't work. If you guys are going days without speaking then you aren’t becoming integrated into each other’s lives. Another thing to consider is whether or not you want to go long distance with someone who isn’t thinking about a future together. Long distance is taxing and emotionally draining. There needs to be an end goal in sight. Do you guys plan on moving somewhere and who will be the person to move? The distance has to end at some point and that discussion can only happen with two people who are mutually invested. 

How to make long-distance relationships work 

Now that we’ve discussed how hard managing a long-distance relationship can be it wouldn’t be fair to not also give you some tips on how to make them work. Every relationship is different so all of these tips might not apply to you but hopefully, some of them are useful to you! 

Go on digital dates 

I know it may seem like you can't go on dates in a long-distance relationship because you guys are so far away from each other. However, we have a lot of new technology that can help long-distance couples still feel connected to one another.

Cook dinner together 

One of my favorite date nights that my boyfriend and I did was make dinner together over FaceTime. We would pick the same meal and walk through the steps together. It was a great way to try new recipes and spend time together. After we cooked dinner we would eat together on Facetime and talk. It may feel awkward at first but try making it fun. Be silly and enjoy the activity!

A woman and a man having a video chat
Spending time virtually can be just as fun as in person. Image courtesy of StyleCraze.

Watch a movie together 

There are Google extensions that you can download that allow you to watch movies at the same time as someone else. Scener is one of my favorites because you guys can comment as you watch the movie in real-time. 

Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ all have Groupwatch features as well. If you're going to use Netflix or one of the other major streaming services you’ll also have to Facetime, zoom, or use some other video chat medium. 

Set up a schedule of when you’ll see each other 

Depending on how far apart you and your partner live from each other you might not be able to visit each other as much as you prefer. However, having a schedule allows you to have a date to look forward to. You also want to discuss how long your visit will be. In the summer times, my partner and I would visit each other for a week every month and we switched who traveled to the other person each time. 

However, some couples can visit each other every weekend. Discuss what's happening in your lives and create a schedule that meets both of your needs. 

Have a weekly brief

To improve your communication with your partner I recommend having a weekly call where you talk about any emotions you’ve had throughout the week. If you have needs that aren’t being met this call would be the time to discuss it. I know that it may feel like a business meeting at first but it helps to have a designated time and space that allows both of you to discuss how you feel and what you need from your partner. 

Truly, it's a game changer and helps everyone feel like their issues and problems are being validated. 

The expectations of a long-distance relationship might be very different from reality. 
Give your partner grace in a situation when they fall asleep on a night you were supposed to call. Accidents happen to the best of us. Image courtesy of Bored Panda.

That's all we have for long-distance relationship tips and tricks!

Please remember that long-distance relationships take a lot of work but I believe that you can make it work if you try! The most important thing to remember is to have fun and make memories. Don’t get weighed down by comparing your relationship to other people. I know that having to call your partner on New Year's instead of being there with them can be difficult. 

The one thing to remember is the distance is only temporary. There will come a time when you do live in the same city. Keep your head up!

Oct 6, 2023