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How to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Thrive

As we make our way into the busy fall and winter seasons, many couples are experiencing the hardship of living life in another city, state, or country away from their partner. Whether you or your significant other are returning to school or taking a new job in a different city, committing to a long-distance relationship is no easy task. While the beginnings are always a little more fun and exciting as you plan your next trip and count down the days until you can see each other, the highs always seem to come to a low when it’s time to say goodbye.

Whether you and your partner are separated by 100 km or 10,000 km, it’s no less difficult to spend your days apart. Fortunately, there are several habits you can both practice to help spice up your long-distance relationship and not only make it last but allow it to thrive. Follow along as we discuss the strategies to help you create more love, trust, and engagement in your long-distance relationship.

Adapting to Your New Relationship Norm

When you’re spending more time without your loved one than you do with them, it can come as a tremendous shift to your expectations of a relationship. This is especially true if it’s the first time you’ve committed to this type of a relationship. For this reason, it’s beneficial to engage in certain habits that will help you adapt to these new circumstances.

Make Communication a Priority

From a long-distance standpoint, one of the primary reasons leading to a breakup is the lack of communication by one or both people in the relationship. Fortunately, with the advances in our modern technology, communication from a distance has never been so easy.

Checking in with your partner every so often with a simple text, phone or video call can make all the difference in your long-distance relationship. In fact, a 2013 study published on intimacy and dating suggested that long-distance couples experience greater feelings of closeness and disclosed more information to their partners than couples living in the same city.

Important areas of communication:

  1. Get clear about boundaries and expectations: co-create ways to protect and cherish the relationship from afar. Discuss what is acceptable and what is unacceptable within your relationship to avoid any misunderstandings. It’s important to always be open and honest about your needs.
  2. Share the good and the bad: keep your partner updated about your life — both the highs and the lows. As your life is constantly changing, make sure to include your partner on the events that are taking place and how they’re affecting you as an individual.
  3. Ritualize times of connection: if possible, plan a time of day that works best for you and your partner to have a brief conversation. Even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes, it’s a time you both can count on to connect. In addition, plan a weekly time to discuss more in-depth topics or topics of contention.

For more information on this, read about it here in Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder.

What to avoid:

It’s common to see long-distance couples staying hidden from one another to avoid arguments or difficult conversations. One of the main reasons for this is that long-distance couples have very limited time to spend with one another so they prefer not to bring up anything negative during this time. While you’re in the moment it doesn’t appear to do any harm, so why is this a problem?

When you stay hidden, you are not being heard and as a result, you’re not being understood by your partner. Oftentimes, this can leave you feeling lonely and detached. In a long-distance relationship, many couples rely on verbal communication as their only means of interaction. If your communication is not transparent and genuine, it can lead to unmet needs, resentment, emotional disengagement, withdrawal from the relationship and so much more.

Couples who are successful in adapting to the norms of a long-distance relationship are more likely to be honest about their emotions — both the good and the bad. While it takes an immense amount of vulnerability to trust your partner in how they will receive this information, it protects you from the negative repercussions that develop from staying hidden from your partner. 

Find Balance Inside and Outside of Your Relationship

Finding the balance in your life in terms of both your dependence and independence is essential to the success of your long-distance relationship. Feeling the need to cling to your partner when you’re separated by distance can be an easy, yet very detrimental habit to fall into.

Creating a fun and joyful lifestyle both inside and outside of your relationship will give you greater fulfillment in your life. Whether or not you’re in a long-distance relationship, it’s never healthy to put every ounce of energy you have into your partner. Instead, you should find the balance and continue to pursue your own interests and hobbies.

Encourage Fun and Excitement

At the end of the day, you’ve got to find joy, happiness, and excitement in your relationship. Get creative and try out new ways to bring fun into your long-distance relationship by writing each other a letter or setting up games night over Facetime or Zoom. It can also be helpful to plan exciting dates when you’re finally in person. Book a comedy show, explore new outdoor adventures or go dancing — anything that will give you both something fun to look forward to.

Just like any other relationship, your long-distance relationship will begin to thrive once you step away from a monotonous routine. Continue to date one another, laugh with each other, and build memories together.

See the Distance as an Opportunity

Rather than viewing your long-distance situation as an unfortunate circumstance, it can be helpful to change your mindset and start seeing it as an opportunity. Unlike most couples, you and your partner will be experiencing a ton of different challenges that can help strengthen your connection, so long as you’re both willing to work together. Is it going to be hard? Yes. But is it going to be worth it when you reach the end? Absolutely.

Make Plans for After the Distance

Navigating the new territory of a long-distance relationship can be quite the journey. Although the majority of this article speaks to the intricacies of adapting to your new long-distance relationship norm, it’s also just as important for couples to make plans for after the distance.

Whether this means moving closer together or moving in with each other, having a conversation about your future plans together will help keep your spirits high throughout. Without this sort of commitment to one another, your relationship risks losing its steam as more months and even years pass by.

Where to Go From Here

Remember, it takes two people to put in the effort and encourage the growth and longevity of the relationship. If you’re experiencing any major difficulties with your long-distance relationship, it may be helpful to reach out for support. At On Your Mind Counselling, our team of experienced counsellors are trained to help guide individuals and couples through challenging situations both inside and outside of a relationship.

No matter if you’re just beginning your long-distance relationship journey or have been in it for years, we see you and we understand the complexities that are involved. Start your journey with us today by booking a free consultation.

Written by Tori Mudie BA, MA, RP, CCC

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