Because yes you can.
You’re madly in love after finally finding the perfect person for you. They’re kind and smart. They make you laugh like you haven’t laughed in forever, and when you see them, or even a notification from them on your phone, your heart begins to race.
They’re everything you’ve ever wanted in every single way … except for one fairly big thing: they live really freaking far away.
Now you’re looking for advice on how to make a long distance relationship work, and to be honest, you’re probably wondering if that’s even possible.
Pretty much everything you’ve heard about long distance relationships seem horrible, and your friends and family keep telling you it will never work.
But you’re in love, and more than anything, you want to make sure your relationship succeeds.
I’m here to tell you that it is entirely possible to make a long-distance relationship work. It takes some awareness and effort, but if you both want this, you can keep your love alive even across thousands of miles.
Here’s my best advice on how to make a long distance relationship work when you’ve fallen in love with someone who lives far, far away.
1. Make smart use of media
These days, there are so many ways to communicate with someone no matter where they live.
Texting means instantaneous communication and email is a close second. What’sApp, Skype, FaceTime and other video chat apps and online services make talking face-to-face free and easy.
Use every resource available to keep in contact. Frequent communication and eye contact is an essential part of any healthy relationship, so using any means available to stay connected with each other is key.
2. Make sure you both share the effort
People don’t necessarily think about this, but in many long-distance relationships, one person makes more of an effort than the other. This unbalanced dynamic can cause big problems.
A client of mine lived in Sokoto and her boyfriend lived in Abia. She worked for herself from home, and he had a full-time job that required him to go to the office every day. It was easier for her to make the effort to drive up and see him, so she did, regularly. And, at first, she did so happily.
Being the one who always made the drive eventually took a toll on her. The long hours in the car began to wear on her physically, and being away from her home office made getting work done difficult. He was willing to make an effort to see her, but he wasn’t willing to go to the Herculean efforts that she was. She felt like he didn’t care about her enough, and her feelings for him started to shift.
Gradually, because she was tired and increasingly resentful, she stopped making the weekly trip and had to let go of a man she truly loved.
If you are in a long-distance relationship, it’s essential that both members of the relationship make an effort to stayed connected with each other. Take turns picking up the phone, making the drive and sending flowers — whatever it is that’s important to each of you to maintain your connection and keep your relationship healthy.
3. Maintain trust
If there’s one thing that’s invaluable in a long-distance relationship, it’s trust.
Trust is, of course, important in any relationship, but when you spend so much time apart, it’s even more critical.
I had a client whose girlfriend moved to Florida. Both insisted they wanted a long-distance relationship. But it turned out that, just a few months, earlier she had briefly reconnected with an old boyfriend (and not just for coffee). He had forgiven her, but as much as he wanted to, he could no longer trust her.
In spite of her efforts to convince him she was committed to him, he began stalking her on social media, sending passive aggressive text messages asking who she was with, and freaking out if she didn’t text him back immediately.
And that was that. She broke up with him.
4. Talk regularly
Communication is the key in every healthy relationship, and as with the items above, it is all the more essential for couples who want to make long-distance relationships work.
Because you rarely share each other’s physical space, sometimes it can be difficult to know when either one of you is in a bad place emotionally. This is where making an extra effort to maintain frequent communication comes in.
Use every app and resource available to make sure you share with your long-distance love how you are feeling, whether it’s good or bad or simply uncertain. If you are struggling, it’s important that you be completely honest rather than try to put on a brave front.
Another client of mine was disheartened one morning when her partner canceled a weekend visit at the last minute. Instead of telling him how upset she was, she went silent and sulked.
He figured she was just busy and went on with his day. As a result, she grew increasingly angry, and when they finally did talk, she snapped.
It wasn’t pretty.
If she’d told her partner how upset she was that he had to cancel at the moment she first felt it, she would’ve given him the opportunity to make amends and to express his disappointment as well. She would’ve known that he was also unhappy with the way things turned out, and that might have eased her pain.
When something comes up, good or bad, share it with your partner right away. It’s important that emotions get managed quickly so they don’t become bigger issues.
5. Set an end goal
This last one isn’t always easy, but it’s important.
It can be hard to manage a long-distance relationship when you have no idea when, or even if, you might live in the place. Anything that remains open-ended is more difficult to manage then something with an end goal in sight.
When you embark upon a long-distance relationship, set a goal for when you will at least have a conversation again about the possibility of being together permanently.
That doesn’t mean you have to set a goal for when you’re going to move to his town or get married. What it means is you will set a goal for when to talk about the next steps in your future together in which you’ll live in the same town and create a life together. It means knowing there’s a plan for some day making a change, and that things won’t always be this way.
If you have a goal of when you will be together, or at the very least to talk about being together, it’ll be much easier to manage the day in, day out complexities of being in a long-distance relationship.
Making a long-distance relationship work isn’t an easy task, but it is possible.
The world we live in now is a much smaller than it was in the past, and we have resources available to easily maintain contact with those we love.
So, use those communication apps on your phone, make sure you both make an equal effort, trust, trust, trust, always communicate and keep the end goal in sight.
You can do this. Great partners aren’t always easy to find, and they are always worth the effort to keep.