We live in a world where finding a mate should be easier than ever—and by all rights, it is. Swipe left or right, fill out a match-making survey, or scroll through all the potentials to find the one that clicks. Technology makes finding someone to love easier. In a lot of ways, technology also makes it more possible to maintain some sense of normalcy in that relationship no matter the distance between you and your partner.
Half of the people in one study of 1,000 individuals who are in long-distance relationships said that they met their partner online, and about 27 percent never lived close to their partner at all. People who do end up in a relationship with someone far away still do struggle, however, in spite of things like Skype, instant messaging, and rapid communication being easier.
That being said, about 58 percent of these far-apart relationships make it for the long haul. So, what's the difference? Why do some make it and some romances just fizzle out? A lot of it comes down to the dedication of the two parties involved to make it work. There are, however, certain things you (and your partner) can do to better your chances of keeping the fire burning across the miles.
Even couples who live in the same city will struggle if they have different schedules. Conflicting work, sleep, school schedules make it difficult to have time for the biggest factor in a long-distance relationship: communication. Not to mention, if you live in different time zones, things can get even more complicated. Work together to align your schedules so there is always time available to communicate. Do this even if it means having to make a few small sacrifices. For example, if you normally only have a short window mid-day to talk because one of you works days and the other works nights, consider changing your typical work shift if at all possible.
A long-distance relationship is bound to bring stresses that would otherwise not be an issue. If there is uncertainty about where the relationship is headed or the expectations of either person involved, you're facing even more woes. Right from the start, it should be clear to both of you what your end goals truly are. Do you see yourself eventually relocating or do you expect that the other person will? Will you try this long-distance thing for a while and then make commitments? Are you committed to being completely monogamous? These are questions to ask and topics that must be discussed early on.
Establishing a routine is going to do several things for you and your long-distance lover. One, you will have clear expectations of when and how things are going to happen. Two, a routine will help keep communication ongoing. Instead of just randomly calling, texting, or popping in for a visit, you should know when you will talk, interact, or visit. For example, sticking to a plan of visiting one another in person every six weeks. The two of you should take turns to do the traveling. This planning eliminates the quandary of having to decide randomly who is making the effort to visit and when. Another example is if you know you will video chat every night at 9 p.m., so there's no chance of either of you missing the opportunity.
Yes, technology is wonderful for long-distance communication. It grants you platforms like Facetime and Skype. However, texting, video chatting, and emailing are not the only ways to stay prominent in each other's life. There's a lot to be said for sending out a handwritten letter, postcard, or small token or gift as well. Having tangible things around you from your partner helps them feel more like a constant in your life and not like something that could disappear if you were to lose your Internet connection and phone.
Just like something drawn in the sand, trust is easily washed away. Even worse, it's hard to re-establish once it has been broken. About 55 percent of people in a long-distance relationship say their biggest challenge is the worry that their partner will meet someone else. You are not in your partner's everyday life, so it can be super challenging to trust them, but it can be done. On the same note, being a trustworthy person yourself is critical. Trust goes far deeper than just worrying about infidelity; it is also about trusting that someone will be and do what they say. If you commit to something, even if it is something as simple as a scheduled video chat before bed, make sure you follow through.
It's a tricky thing to balance a long-distance relationship with your ordinary life. Sometimes, it feels easier to put everything on hold until you can physically be with your significant other. But sacrificing everything, such as social activities, pursuing your career goals, or enjoying your hobbies, can bring about feelings of resentment later on. Your life really shouldn't be on hold; it should be in full motion just like it would be any other time, with any other romantic relationship as an included factor.
Quality communication is an absolute must when your partner is far away. However, quality does not mean every minute you spend connected on the phone, texting, or otherwise communicating is only about the serious or "big" aspects of life. Small details build familiarity between who the two of you are as people in general. Talk about what you had for lunch, why your mother is making you upset, or how you just spent ten minutes trying to hang new curtains in your room. These things may seem boring to you, but it builds a context in the mind of your significant other about what your life really looks like. When you are eventually capable of being physically close, your life, the people and things in it, and how you live will not be a surprise.
Long-distance relationships can and do work even if you never get to see one another in person, but these relationships are a rarity. Lack of physical intimacy is the number-one challenge in a long-distance relationship. We as humans simply crave being physically close to those we love, so going long periods of time without holding, touching, kissing, and even sex can take a toll on a relationship. Both of you should work toward having that physical, in-person time together even if that time very limited.
Maybe you haven't seen each other for a few months, and you want the in-person event to be flawless. You may be inclined to plan out every last detail of what will happen when your love gets to you. Kick this idea to the curb. If every face-to-face moment you have together is planned out, it doesn't leave enough time to just be a couple of people who are relaxing and enjoying every moment as it comes. Remember, spontaneous strolls holding hands, unplanned goofiness on the couch, and sudden bouts of cuddling are the moments that feel the most real. So, leave room for them to happen in your time together.
Long-distance relationships do have positive attributes that traditional relationships can lack. For example, those in long-distance relationships are more likely to value the actual physical moments they have together. Recognize these positives and work them to your advantage. The two of you do indeed have something special to appreciate, especially if you can remain close in spite of the miles between you. If you only ever see the downfalls of your situation and have doubt that you can make it work for the long-term, you're much more likely to fall apart. Cognitively believing that the relationship can work evokes a sense of hope and can actually help you subconsciously strive to achieve happiness and overcome obstacles.