How to Survive and Grow in an LDR

How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Maintaining a long term relationship (LDR) can be difficult. Issues that would be but small speed bumps in a normal relationship can seem like mountainous obstacles when you and your partner are separated by a large distance. When the distance is not only space but time, too, the difficulty is multiplied. The long term relationship tips in the article can help keep you and your partner sane and strong while you’re apart.

Communication

Talking to each other is a must. There may be the impulse to fill in the gap between you with extra calls and messages, but over-communicating can be a huge turn-off. Find an acceptable amount of interaction to satisfy both parties. Instead of bombarding a partner during their day, set times to talk, or send engagement messages (“How’s it going?”, “Up to much?”, “I miss you!”). Don’t take it to heart if your partner is not responding immediately, without being there you can’t accurately gauge exactly what is happening in their life. Being preoccupied does not mean they love you any less!

They might even be getting something ready for you!

Communication is important in a long distance relationship

Set Explicit Ground Rules for Your Relationship

Does it make you uncomfortable if your partner regularly goes out to lunch with their attractive coworker? Does your partner get jealous when you go out drinking with your friends? Some of these things are perfectly acceptable, but it definitely depends what kind of partner you are. Always approach a situation with an open mind, but don’t be afraid to lay down the law when something clearly crosses one of your lines. When you both know the pattern of lines not to be crossed, it makes a long distance relationship much easier to navigate!

Respond to Emotional Signals

So, perhaps you’ve agreed that texting 25/7 is not the right way to communicate affection. But maybe your partner texts outside of the normal scope of operation. Maybe you sense a tendril of unexpected distress, or some other emotion, in their small talk. Don’t ignore it. Make it into big talk. Sense when your partner needs you, and don’t be afraid to call, or make a grand gesture, even if far away. If your partner is upset, and you have the ability to step in, don’t let it fester! These are the moments that show how close you are, despite the distance.

Selfies and Updates

Nobody could forget you. You’re reading about how to be a good partner, which means you’re already most of the way toward being one – so who could possibly forget you? Definitely not your partner, and definitely not when you’re sending them more pictures than a photography student posts to their instagram.

Send you partner selfies whenever it seems appropriate, or even when it doesn’t (wink). Any time you get a silly thought in your head, or some minor/major life update occurs – let your partner know! Send pictures – being able to see what is happening can help mitigate the long distance much more than reading the texts can. Got your new socks in the post? Selfie! Your dog threw up on the sofa? Send it! Haven’t sent a selfie in a while? Now’s the time!

Send each other selfies regularly to survive in a long distance relationship

Do Things Together

Just because you’re apart, doesn’t mean you can’t be together. Start a film at the same time, and have a video call during so you can see each other’s reactions, and make your little comments and inside jokes with each other.

There are plenty of online two player games (that are currently getting myself and my partner through lockdown), here are a few:

Codenames Duet: https://codegame.cards/

Online Battleships: http://en.battleship-game.org/

Connect4: https://c4arena.com/

If you’re into more involved video games, then play them together! Get some Overwatch, Rocket League, or Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime going! You could even try Extreme Social Distancing!

You can also do the same activity but apart, and talk about it later. Maybe you’d like to do some romantic cooking, or climb the tallest hill nearby, or have a mini photography competition – anything you can do to experience life, and share it with your partner at the same time.

Visit!

Maybe the most appealing of all. Take the trip. Book some time off of work, and turn up one day. Ideally, you wouldn’t make it a complete surprise, or at least you’d make sure they had time and energy to receive you. But surprises can be sweet, too. Although there are plenty of ways to feel close to each other in a long distance relationship, nothing is closer than actually touching.

If you are planning a surprise visit, be sure to keep in mind they might be busy, and be ready to spend some time by yourself. Take the time to explore their surroundings, and help put some of their daily stories into a better perspective!

Focus on the Good Parts of Long Distance Relationships

It really can be difficult being away from your partner for so long. Really, it can suck. But that’s not to say there aren’t benefits.

You are in charge of your own schedule – you can eat/watch/do what you want, when you want, where you want. 

You will save so much money (hopefully enough to go for a holiday to see them!), given that there will be fewer opportunities to buy spontaneous gifts, or go for expensive meals together.

You can starfish in bed without any guilt.

Lying spread eagle on the bed

All the storage space is yours!

You might learn some bad habits (farting constantly definitely counts), but when it gets hard being apart, remember there are good things about the situation, too.

Postal Surprises

Another benefit to LDRs is the reliance on snail mail. Did you know that long distance relationships account for 84% of Royal Mail’s delivery responsibilities? Neither did I, because it’s definitely not true. But it isn’t too surprising to imagine how much more people who are in LDRs rely on the post office than those who aren’t.

Thoughtful little postcards, or any kind of homemade gift (cookies count!) are perfect things to mail. Everybody loves receiving and opening packages, and if you love your partner, don’t let them miss out on such primal joy as receiving a weird doodle of the two of you as foxes in the rain.

Send doodles in the mail!

Create Long Term Plans

Living in a long distance relationship for a long time can sometimes make it difficult to imagine yourselves being together forever, after a certain point. Talking with each other about the future is a good way to make sure you are not only on the same page, but are both focussed on keeping the relationship headed for the ultimate goal of being properly, undeniably together.

It doesn’t even matter if it’s all hypothetical – one week you might want to live in Paris, the next Mars. Just by keeping each other’s future plans and ideas in mind can make it feel inevitable that you’ll make it. And things that feel inevitable often become so, if they aren’t already.

Manage Expectations

You’re likely reading this because you know LDRs can be hard (Long Difficult Relationship, amiright?). You’re probably looking forward to the day when it will be over – in a good way! – and you can be together in the same place for all eternity. Just be careful you aren’t setting the bar too high.

If you’re expecting your partner to not have grown or changed over the time spent apart, then take a look in the mirror. As different as you have become, they will seem even more different. And the life you’ve been dreaming of together can become reality, but work at putting things in place, instead of hammering them in quickly and carelessly. Start living a life together, but don’t force your previous ideas upon reality. Let things come naturally, and enjoy the time you now have together.

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