Long-distance relationships (LDR) are hard, and no one who has ever been in one–successful or not–will tell you any differently. Relationships are a lot of work, whether they’re long distance or you live next door to each other, but being in an LDR brings a whole new level of challenge to one’s love life. However, if you’re with the right person, all the extra effort will be worth it a thousand times over in the end.
As the survivor of a successful long distance relationship myself, I want to offer some advice for others who are going through the struggle of being separated from their love. Here are five secrets to a successful LDR–tried and proven!
1. Put extra effort into showing your guy that you care.
Since you and your sweetheart can’t go out on normal dates with each other, you have to find other ways to show your man that he’s on your mind. One of the best ways to do this is by sending him a care package! It doesn’t have to be filled with expensive things; sentimental value is worth much more when you’re in an LDR. When my husband and I were still in a long distance relationship, we would send each other personal items, such as our favorite sleeping shirts sprayed with our favorite perfume/cologne. During all those lonely nights, it gave me a lot of comfort to bury my face in something I knew he had worn and that even smelled like him, and I know he felt the same way!
Additionally, love letters are awesome. A lot of people think they died out with the internet, but as much fun as Skyping all night long can be, it’s amazing to have a handwritten letter that you can physically hold and read over and over again when you need something to remind you that the distance will be worth it in the end. You can include some in your care package, or send them on their own–letters are super cheap to mail and will usually get to their destination a lot faster than a package would.
2. Spend as much time “together” as you can.
Physically, you can’t be together, but thanks to the amazing technology available in our modern age, we have the next best thing: Skype! Skype has been absolutely revolutionary in the way it has changed the face of LDRs. Now, we have the ability to see our loved ones’ faces and hear their voices, even when they are thousands of miles away!
While we still have to take into account our life’s priorities such as school, work, and family, a long-distance relationship requires a lot more nurturing than a “regular” one. Make an effort to have Skype dates as often as you both have the free time to do so. During our LDR days, we loved to have Skype movie dates. We’d both have the same movie ready to watch and would count down–3, 2, 1–and play the movie! Sure, it wasn’t the same without the cuddles that usually accompany a movie date, but we made do with what we had. Just make sure to wear earphones while doing this, or you’ll have movie echo!
When it comes to spending time together in an LDR, time-difference can often be a negative factor. If it’s not inconvenient, though, you can try to adjust your schedule to allow for more time together. For us, there was a 16-hour difference, so we were on totally opposite schedules when we met. We were both in college and I was working as well, so when coupled with the time difference, there seemed to be little time where we could actually talk. We solved this by adjusting our class schedules as much as possible, and we were eventually almost sleeping on the same schedule! It took some effort, but we were rewarded by being able to talk every morning as we were getting ready to start our day and also every night before we went to sleep.
3. Get to know and understand each other’s cultures.
If you and your long-distance love are from different cultures, use the time to get to know each other’s cultures and backgrounds better! For example, since I’m American and my husband is Filipino, one thing we loved to do was exchange recipes from our own cultures. Even though we were so far apart, we’d cook “together” with Skype on in the background and introduced each other to new foods! While we were still in a long-distance relationship, I learned to cook tapa, tocino, maja blanca, and other Filipino classics, and I taught my husband to make different varieties of pasta and other things he had never cooked before!
If one of you is planning to eventually move to the other’s country or city, it’s even more important to get to know the culture of the place where you’ll be living. Making a big move is always an adventure, and it helps a lot if you have an idea of what to expect when you finally get there. And don’t go by what you see on TV, either; things are always very different in real life. I was actually able to take a course in my college, as part of my degree requirements, in Southeast Asian studies, so I was able to get an in-depth cultural look at the Philippines and some of it’s history, long before I first set foot on Philippine soil! It really helped prevent the culture-shock from becoming overwhelming when I moved here.
4. Save money.
Long-distance relationships are expensive, in the long run. Sending a package to another country, or even just another island, can cost a lot. Visiting each other usually requires long rides by car, bus, or plane–and this can add up to a lot of money in the long run as well. And all those late nights talking on the phone for hours, well that can really drive up your phone bill.
If you are in a long-distance relationship, learning to manage and save your money can be really important. By the time that most successful LDRs end, usually the couple gets married or moves in together in the process of closing the distance. All the money spent during the course of the LDR adds up on its own, and then going from that to living together can be a huge change. As a result, it’s really important to learn to manage your money early on. Make yourself a budget and try really hard to stick as closely to it as possible. You’ll learn to give up the less important things, like your daily coffee, in order to do more important things in the future, like buy a plane ticket to visit your sweetheart. The ability to save will also be really handy once you finally close the distance and are together in person!
5. Trust your partner.
One of the biggest problems that often leads to a long-distance breakup is trust issues. More so than any normal relationship, LDRs require massive amounts of trust because you can’t see where your guy is at most times, you don’t know what he’s doing when he’s not on Skype with you, and you’ve probably never even met most of his friends. When you’re in a long-distance relationship, you have to trust that your partner is where they say they are, when they say they are. If you start becoming suspicious of him, with no valid reasons behind your distrust, there’s a big chance that the relationship will end up in disaster.
Just as important as trusting your man, though, is being trustworthy yourself. Have a talk early on about what your boundaries are and what you need from each other in this relationship. Be sure to never put yourself in a situation that you wouldn’t be okay with your man being in himself. Being in an LDR really requires you to put effort into seeing through each other’s eyes and taking each other’s feelings seriously.
A lot of people believe that LDRs can never last–and that’s true! Why? Because in order for a long distance relationship to be successful, it has to be temporary. Above all, the best thing that you can do for your LDR is to get rid of the distance between you and your man. Usually, though, there are a lot of obstacles you have to get through together before that becomes possible. But by keeping these secrets in mind and staying strong even when it gets hard, you will learn that it IS possible to have a successful long-distance relationship!
Featured Image from Dear John courtesy of Paramount Pictures