Love, Marriage & Partnership

The secrets to maintaining a long-distance relationship

Learn how to make your love last the distance with these simple yet effective tips for couples sharing a long-distance relationship.

Long-distance relationship

By Sophie Pettit

Updated 29-2-2024

One of the biggest tests that a couple will ever face is being in a long-distance relationship. After all, keeping the fire burning and maintaining a strong bond while living separately is challenging, to say the least. So what is the secret to making your love last the distance?

When it comes to expat relationships, there often comes a time when big decisions regarding family, money, or career divide a couple geographically. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to throw in the towel and go your separate ways. After all, if you have invested a significant amount of time and energy into building a solid foundation together, you’ll likely want to make it work. That said, making a long-distance relationship work will take some time, patience, and dedication from both partners. With this in mind, here are some simple tips to help you transform your long-distance relationship status from ‘treading water’ to ‘steadily afloat’ in no time at all.

Set up a stable routine early on

More often than not, the first month you spend living apart from each other is the hardest. This can be particularly challenging if you have already been living together for some time. During this difficult period, it is important to establish a stable routine to maintain some normalcy in your relationship. Therefore, try to work out a steady schedule where you are both available to chat face-to-face, whether that is via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, or another popular messaging app.

Skype call in bed

Of course, you will need to consider the time difference and agree on a convenient window that suits both of you. And don’t panic if this takes a week or two to get right, either. After all, moving to a different country and setting up a new life involves a lot of hard work and logistics. But once the dust has settled, a regular pattern should emerge that works for both of you. The next challenge is to stick to this routine as much as you can while you’re living apart, making sure that you maintain a steady line of communication. Just remember, while you’re busy enjoying your new life in a foreign country, your loving partner is waiting for you back home.

Establish a reliable communication method

Naturally, one of the first things that you’ll want to do in your new home is to set up a reliable Internet and phone connection. And because this will become your relationship lifeline while you’re living apart, you’ll want to make sure that it’s stable. After all, the last thing you want to be doing is swearing at your router or throwing your phone at the wall while your partner sits patiently on the other end wondering where you are. 

Bad internet connection

But if you do run into technical issues along the way, then try and remain calm and plan some backup methods. That way, you will avoid letting frustrations mount up, which will only place additional strain on your relationship which is already being put to the test.

Try to keep the mood light

Drama is bad for any relationship, but when you’re dealing with a few thousand miles between you, this can really bring you both down. Similarly, always talking about how much you miss each other will only make things harder. Therefore, instead of focusing on all the negative things and what you both miss, try sticking to subjects that you would normally chat about in person. This might mean making jokes, sharing everyday activities, and reminiscing about happy memories.

happy man chatting on his phone

Remember, it’s the little things that count, so in between those lovely catch-ups, why not send each other loving messages or photos or share links to fun videos that you know will make your partner smile. Even sending a ‘good morning’ text or wishing them good night will remind them just how much you love them. And don’t underestimate the simple act of randomly calling just to say ‘I love you’. This can make a huge impact on their day. Just keep the time difference in mind – if there is one. After all, the last thing you want to do is wake your partner up at god knows what hour reaffirming your love.

Find a comfortable way to maintain intimacy

Just because the two of you are miles apart doesn’t mean that the physical side of your long-distance relationship has to be put on the back burner. In fact, it’s important to have a discussion about each other’s needs and wants and find a happy medium that is comfortable for both of you. And preferably, you’ll want to do this before you part ways.

Woman taking an intimate selfie

This could mean getting a little more intimate over Skype or sending a few coy, sexy photos. Just be careful with your privacy – remember what happened to Jennifer Lawrence! It all depends on your boundaries and what you feel comfortable with. However, even if you only chat once a week, seeing your partner’s face can make all the difference. And if you want to take things further – well, then the choice is yours.

Create a shared activity – and do it apart

A great way to create a strong feeling of interconnectivity and working towards something with your partner is to find an activity that you both enjoy and do it together – apart. This could be anything from reading a good book or watching a movie to going for a run. Sharing your opinions of what you have both read or seen, or comparing how far you ran and your little victories, will help bring you closer together.

Woman reading with dog

Joint activities also allow you to challenge each other and stay motivated. This is particularly helpful on those tough days when one of you feels like giving up and needs a little boost. And when those negative thoughts do pop up, as they inevitably will do from time to time, just remind yourself – you’re not alone, you’re in this together.

Be honest and open with each other

Living apart can be challenging for couples and it’s only natural that both partners will need some reassurance from time to time. However, the key to maintaining a strong long-distance relationship is complete honesty and trust. Very often being apart can stir up feelings of jealousy, insecurity, or abandonment. And if one partner doesn’t feel secure in the relationship, it will quickly crumble.

Stressed out man

Therefore, it is vital that both partners are honest with each other and share their feelings and concerns; even if this makes for a difficult conversation. Remember, bottling up negative emotions never did anyone any good. With this in mind, make time to talk openly and honestly with each other, and try to be reasonable, too. It helps to remain focused on your goals as a couple and look ahead to the time when you will be reunited. This isn’t always easy, but with time, patience, and understanding, things will all fall into place – we promise!

Take care of your own wellbeing

Quite often, when people are feeling run-down, tired, or lonely, their long-distance relationship feels like a tragic and dire situation. If these feelings continue, it can put added pressure on the relationship, especially when one or both partners feel helpless to comfort each other.

A man sleeping soundly

Therefore, it is extremely important that you both take care of your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. In fact, this is one of the best things you can do in order to remain positive, calm, and patient when managing a long-distance relationship. Not only that, but taking good care of yourself should be your number one priority, regardless of your relationship status. So just as you would if you lived together, try to stay healthy and active, eat well, get plenty of sleep, and establish a good support network wherever you live. Putting these good habits into place will help you maintain a routine and keep you moving forward, even on those tough days.

Learn how to argue well

While it’s perfectly normal for couples to argue, having a vast distance between you can make it feel a lot worse. This is especially true if you are having a dispute over the phone or via text. After all, in this situation, you’re dealing with the added challenge of not being able to see your partner’s body language. And this actually accounts for a whopping 55% of the information you receive in a conversation. This communication gap can often create a level of confusion and frustration during an argument.

Stressed out woman on her computer

If the disagreement escalates into a full-blown row over the phone, then it can be tempting to just hang up and avoid dealing with it altogether. But try not to. As the saying goes ‘you should never go to bed on an argument’. Well, the same applies to leaving things hanging. If you think you might say something that you’ll regret later, then ask your partner for a short time out. Take a deep breath, give yourself a moment to calm down, and then continue the conversation. Never forget, clear communication is the key to surviving a long-distance relationship. So if you can’t do it effectively, then you won’t be able to reach a helpful resolution.

Remember why you love them

As difficult as it is in moments of frustration, reminding yourself why you love your partner can really help you overcome any negative emotions. So instead of focusing on the problems in your relationship, try to remember all the reasons you’re with them in the first place. Put up cute photos of them around your new home if this helps, or take time out to reminisce about the fun times you’ve spent together. It all helps to keep the love alive.

Couple taking selfie

These periodic reminders of your devotion to one another can help to keep you grounded in times of separation. And if you’re in a healthy, loving, albeit challenging relationship, then making the conscious decision to stay by your partner’s side – even if it feels like they’re a million miles away – can make all the difference. And just remember, you will eventually be back together again and it will all be worth it. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder – if you let it.