LDR tips keys

6 Keys to a Successful Long Distance Relationship

Whenever I tell people I’m in a long distance relationship, I prepare myself for the inevitable bombardment of questions. How do you stay in touch? When will you see each other again? Don’t you worry that he’ll find someone else, or that you will? How are you going to be together? 

Seeing as how my boyfriend and I recently celebrated our one year anniversary – most of that year being apart –  I think it’s time to address some of these (totally valid) concerns. Yes, long distance sucks. No, it’s not doomed to fail. As someone who went through one failed long distance relationship and currently finds herself in the happiest period of her life, here are what I consider the six most important things a couple must do to successfully maintain a LDR.

1. Have an end plan.

I cannot stress enough how vital this is. If you don’t know when you’re going to be together for good, or at least for an extended period of time, the relationship simply is not going to work. Being away from your partner is hard enough. Not having a life together to look forward to is even harder. Mentally, long distance is much easier to cope with knowing that you’ll be together in x number of years/months/weeks/days.

2. Ensure you and your partner are equally committed to the relationship. 

This is how my first LDR failed. Our expectations for the relationship were totally different, but I was too emotionally invested at the time to end things. Before you take the step to go long-distance, ask yourselves: Are you going to see other people or be faithful to one another? How often do you plan on talking? Are you going to see each other while you’re apart?

Setting boundaries is important. You should be very clear about what you expect from your partner and what your partner expects from you. This will be different for every couple. Some might choose to pursue an open relationship. I know this is not a possibility for me due to my own personality. Make sure that both you and your partner are equally comfortable with the expectations. If you’re not on the same page about something as important as the degree of exclusivity of your relationship, things are bound to go awry.

3. Be willing to make sacrifices.

Depending on the situation, there are a number of things that could get in the way of being with your partner long-term. (Trust me, I know what a headache immigration laws can be.) However, there’s almost always a solution if you’re willing to put in the effort. This might mean leaving your job and living off of your savings because you can’t work in his country, or taking a study abroad year so that you can be with her. Sometimes, you may actually have several options but each one requires a different kind of sacrifice. In my case, I know that I’ll be taking a huge pay cut if I go teach English in Spain for a year, but I’ve prepared for that by saving ahead of time. I also know that it’s totally worth it if I can spend a year in a country I adore with the person I love. While it requires that I sacrifice more than he does, it is the best option for both of us right now because it will open the door to us being together long-term. Remember that both of you should be making sacrifices. If one person is always giving up considerably more than the other, it might be time to re-evaluate the relationship.

4. Communication is key.

So simple, yet so true. How often you talk is up to you. My boyfriend and I talk everyday, pretty much all day until one of us goes to bed. We generally Skype once every 2 weeks or so. We never explicitly stated that we must talk everyday and Skype every other weekend; it developed naturally. We simply enjoy filling each other in on our day and anything exciting or stressful we have coming up. Communicating as often as we do helps build the closeness that each of us needs.

One of the most difficult aspects of any LDR is doubt. Because you’re so far apart, because you haven’t seen each other in months, because you can’t actually talk face-to-face, you may begin to doubt how your partner feels. That’s why it’s so crucial that each of you is very clear about your feelings. If you are concerned about something, tell her. If you’re feeling lonely, talk about it. If you need a gentle reminder that your partner is still as committed as always, ask him. I find that any negative emotions that emerge in a LDR are generally the result of a lack of communication.

5. Make an extra effort to love.

Having no physical contact with your partner can take a toll on the connection you have. You can’t go on dates. You can’t kiss goodnight. You can’t rest your head on his chest as you binge watch your favourite Netflix series. But that doesn’t mean you can’t love as completely as you did when you were together. Keeping the spark alive might consist of a good morning text everyday, sending silly selfies, or watching a movie together over Skype. I know that with every birthday, anniversary, and Christmas present, I can expect a handwritten letter. My friends would probably vomit if they saw the number of kissy-face emojis Joaquín and I exchange on a daily basis. These are just some of the things that keep us feeling loved and needed.

I alluded earlier to the question about whether I worry that he’ll find someone else, or that I will. Honestly, the thought has never even crossed my mind. Why? Because he demonstrates day in and day out that what he wants more than anything else is to be with me, and I do the same.

6. Pursue your own interests.

A long distance relationship doesn’t have to be all bad! In fact, the attitude you have going into the relationship can significantly influence how it’s going to turn out. Think of this period apart as a time to work on yourself. Enrol in that photography class you’ve been dying to try out. Make a routine of going to the gym everyday after work. Catch up with friends you haven’t seen in awhile. Your time is 100% yours. Use it. Not only will pursuing your own interests keep your mind off how much you miss your partner and give you two more things to talk about, but you’ll be making a positive impact on your mind and body. Win-win!

A long distance relationship is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

6 Keys to a Successful Long Distance Relationship

 

24 Comments

  1. Reply

    Julia

    March 28, 2016

    This is totally what we talked about last week when I drove you home! Loved reading this :) Love you guys!

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      April 8, 2016

      Yes, exactly! Love you :)

  2. Reply

    Sophie

    April 23, 2016

    Love this post! I’m thinking of doing a bit of travelling but sadly without my boyfriend so this has helped a lot!

    http://www.travelmatters.co/

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      April 25, 2016

      Hey, Sophie!

      I’m so glad my post was useful to you. It’s definitely not easy being apart, but it’s possible if you’re both willing to put in the work. Best of luck to you and your boyfriend :)

  3. Reply

    SheWentToSpain

    July 6, 2016

    I went through this dilemma when I decided to teach English in Spain and my boyfriend didn’t want to! He didn’t want me to go but didn’t want to stand in my way. I didn’t want to leave but had to go for my own curiosity and satisfaction. In the end, he ended up coming with me, but we had prepared for the LDR. Good for you for doing it, it definitely can be hard, but it makes it better in the end and it’s worth the wait!

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 7, 2016

      That’s definitely a tough decision to make for a couple. I’m glad your boyfriend agreed to make a sacrifice and go with you! And hey, take any chance you can get to live in Spain right? ;) Did you teach through the auxiliares program? I am going to do that this fall!

      • Reply

        SheWentToSpain

        July 7, 2016

        Yes! I was in Andalucia and it was amazing…100% worth it! Where will you be? Is it going to cause a long distance relationship?

        • Reply

          Ivana Abroad

          July 7, 2016

          The best! I will be in Granada, where I studied a year ago. And no, it will actually be the end of our LDR as my boyfriend lives in Granada!

  4. Reply

    Crazy travelista (@Crazytravelista)

    July 6, 2016

    I can completely relate as I’m about to celebrate my 3 year anniversary in September with my bf who lines in Croatia (I live in the US). Its definitely not easy and takes lots of work. I agree with all your points, especially that communication is key! Its also important to have an end goal like you said. Great post!

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 7, 2016

      Wow, congratulations! That’s amazing. One year has been hard enough, but I think if we had be apart longer, we could… I just don’t know how much longer :P Kudos to you, and thank you for your comment!

  5. Reply

    Patricia Steffy (@PLSteffy)

    July 6, 2016

    Great post! I’ve done the long distance thing more than once to varying degrees of success. I totally agree about having an end plan, otherwise it can just seem like an endless prospect. Communication was often the hardest element. When you can’t see someone for long periods of time, every phone call (or Skype call) seems to have much more meaning. And if someone says something that bothers the person during the call, you really do need to address it right away. Otherwise, for me, it made even little things boil into bigger misunderstandings.

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 7, 2016

      I 100% agree. Not having that face-to-face communication on a regular basis means that things can be misconstrued and cause arguments that probably wouldn’t happen if you were together. Thanks for your two cents, Patricia!

  6. Reply

    Anisa

    July 6, 2016

    I am in a LDR myself and I totally agree with all your points. Communication is even more important when you are long distance.

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 7, 2016

      Totally! Good luck with your LDR :)

  7. Reply

    Daniela Frendo

    July 7, 2016

    I enjoyed reading this. My boyfriend and I might have to live in separate countries next year. I want to study in Edinburgh and he wouldn’t mind living there either, but, being an EFL teacher, he is more likely to find work in a non-English speaking country. So, I might be re-reading this next year :)

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 7, 2016

      Ultimately, do what you feel you need to do to better yourself as a person and if it means a LDR is in your future, know that it’s definitely manageable if both of you are equally committed :) Best of luck if you do take that route!

  8. Reply

    anne

    July 7, 2016

    If I ever find myself a man I’ll be sure to remember this. BUT if I ever do find myself that guy, I’m probably not gonna move away from him hehe. It’s been too long!

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 7, 2016

      Hahah I hear you, girl! You do you first, though. The men will come ;)

  9. Reply

    wanderingwagarschristina

    July 7, 2016

    All great points! I am not in a long distance relationship but I think so many of these tips are applicable to relationships in general.

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 8, 2016

      I definitely agree, especially the part about communication!

  10. Reply

    Mel Sak

    July 7, 2016

    Very good points. Having an end plan seems that it would be helpful. Definitely a lot of work and definitely not for everyone.

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 8, 2016

      Yes, very true that it’s not for everyone. Thanks for reading, Mel!

  11. Reply

    carla

    July 8, 2016

    All great tips, though not useful for me at the moment. Im not even in a relationship! Calling all singles out there! hahaha.

    • Reply

      Ivana Abroad

      July 8, 2016

      Hahaha nothing wrong with being single! It makes life a lot less complicated ;)

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