As the old saying goes, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." But what happens when your relationship already involves built-in periods of absence from each other, and you're trying to maintain a healthy and committed connection from afar?
A long distance relationship (LDR) can be one of the most challenging relationships ever. While there are many different kinds of LDRs, the main thing they all have in common is that your physical distance from your partner makes it hard to be together on a regular basis, which can strain your relationship and your sex life if you’re not prepared for it. Fortunately, with great communication and lots of patience, you can make an LDR work with the right attitude and some healthy strategies to keep your bond strong. Let’s take a look at these tips to help you make your LDR work.
1) Keep Expectations Realistic
When you’re in a long distance relationship, you have no idea how your partner is feeling. That’s just one of many things that can drive you crazy! You may not know if they miss you, or if they think about you like you think about them. Feelings are feelings—they're different for everyone, and everyone experiences and expresses feelings in different ways. The expectation for your partner to feel what you feel, when you feel it, and to communicate this in the way you desire can often lead to disappointment.
Try not to get frustrated when they say "I love you" in a text, but then forget to call you when they're on their way home. Sometimes people forget how much work goes into long distance relationships. It's not easy being away from someone you love, especially after months at a time without any contact with them.
2) Give Each Other Space
Whether you’re in an LDR because of your job or educational pursuits, chances are, you won’t be seeing each other very often. Make sure you are ok with spending time apart before you dive into an LDR. If your partner is great at giving you space when it matters, make sure to thank them! A happy relationship is one where each person is happy with their personal time. It also means both partners can focus on themselves and what they want out of life. That way there isn’t any confusion about how important they are to each other and communication should never get stale either.
3) Build Positive Memories Together
The distance can make keeping in touch more difficult, but it’s far from impossible. Keep your time together meaningful and special by planning fun activities you both enjoy. Lover's resident sex therapist Dr. Britney Blair says, "Make sure you're having a regular date night together: do this on video if you can manage it, or if not, a long phone call. Consider cooking together and having a meal, as you would if you were under the same roof."
Schedule a time in advance that allows you to both stick to the plan. No matter how long you’ve been together, making memories together will keep you connected and keep things exciting when one of you has to be away. Whether it’s going hiking, seeing a play or catching up on Netflix shows you missed out on while apart, these shared experiences will help strengthen your relationship over time.
4) Talk (Often)
On regular weekdays when you don't have time for dates, make sure to connect through different methods of communication. Don't limit all of your exchanges to text; try to also include regular voice and video calls. It sounds obvious, but the key is consistency. Make it a habit to call each other to say good morning or goodnight, or to share about your day. Being a part of each others' lives includes sharing the mundane, too. A quick phone call to say, "Today was uneventful, but I'm thinking of you," may be all your partner needs to hear from you.
Sharing fantasies, virtual mutual masturbation, and sexting can be a great way to feel erotically connected. There are also some great sex toys (for all genders) that can be controlled remotely with an app on the phone, that can be a nice way to give your sex life a little sexy boost!
Dr. Blair says, "Make sure you have regularly scheduled visits. This will make you both feel safe and also give you something to look forward to!" Communication is key in any relationship, whether it’s long distance or not. Stay positive and focused on building trust and respect for one another.
5) Be Respectful
While you might think that your long-distance relationship is made unique by its separation, remember that it’s actually similar to every other relationship. It deserves respect and honesty. Remember to treat your partner with kindness and love — as if they were right there in front of you — and use technology as a means of communication and a way to keep things hot instead of allowing it to become an end in itself. Talk about your expectations so both partners are clear on what long distance means.
6) Maintain Boundaries
Don’t try to change who you are in order to cater to your significant other. This will only serve to make things more difficult in the long run. You can, however, tweak your lifestyle or habits, if necessary; it’s better to be yourself than someone you aren’t comfortable with. If a time difference requires you to stay up until 3am to have a regular Facetime call with your partner, don't be afraid to set boundaries for what does or does not work for you. Get creative and find another way to keep intimacy going over time. Together, you and your partner can come up with activities that bring about positive emotions and bond over them!
No two relationships are identical! That's why in the Lover app, you can get customized 1:1 coaching with an expert who will address your unique needs, and work with you on your goals to improving your sex life. Download the app here to get started.