Consistency and quality of contact are the two major components that will keep a long-distance relationship flourishing. Love and trust must also be present as should a genuine desire to be together.
It's important to clearly set expectations when agreeing to a long distance relationship. Too much can be left unsaid and cause big rifts in the relationship when one person defies what the other person thought was a rule of the relationship. Answer these questions to build a solid foundation for your long-distance relationship:
- Are we exclusive to each other?
- What do we consider "cheating" while we're apart?
- Do we have intentions of eventually living close to one another (or with each other)? If so, what is our plan to get to that point?
- How often will we communicate with each other?
- Will we figure out ways to see each other in person? If so, how often and when?
- What means of communication will we use (telephone calls, text, FaceTime, messages online, written letters)?
Consistency and Quality
A long distance relationship needs to be cultivated, just like any other type of relationship between two people. It's far easier to stay connected despite the miles in the Digital Age than it was in years past. Set up dates and times to spend time with one another using whatever means of communication best suits you both. So while some couples may have dates that include dinner and a movie, your date may instead include watching a show simultaneously while online with one another.
A Set Date
If you agree that every Wednesday night you're going to set aside an hour or two to spend time virtually with your significant other, this time block should be as important as a standing date between a couple who can spend time physically together. Treat your agreed-upon "meeting" times as important and with some priority. This not only ensures some quality time spent cultivating the relationship on a regular basis but also lets the other person know you care enough to put in an effort.
The time you spend together, even if it is remotely, should be an intentional time where you are focused on the other person and not other distractions. If your "date" devolves into you taking other phone calls while you're supposed to be communicating with your partner, they'll likely feel as if you don't care enough to put the effort forth. Remember that a long-distance relationship can be a very vulnerable arrangement where it is easy to get insecure about your place in the other person's heart.
Love and Trust
If your relationship has not yet reached the level of proclaiming love to one another, a strong fondness is necessary at the very least to stay close while apart. Long-distance relationships can be a lot of work, so if you're not emotionally invested it likely won't work.
The Reason for Staying Together
Your relationship must be held together by more than a hope to one day feel love for the other person; if you want a solid long-distance relationship, a deep, mutual affection should be present. It acts as the incentive for all the effort and longing and is your reason for staying together despite the distance.
Trust Each Other
Without trust, a relationship that is long-distance will be over fairly quickly. A couple that can't check in with each other regularly can quickly fall into the pattern of assuming the other person is up to no good. That is why a long-distance relationship is simply not a good idea for people who are insecure or jealous. For this reason, don't agree to a long-distance relationship with someone you don't truly feel as if you can trust.
If you're willing to put time and loving attention into your partner, you're well on your way to a solid relationship. An occasional reminder of your affection will bolster the emotional bond between the two of you.
Think of times when you might be there to support your partner if you lived close to one another - job interviews, big exams at school, the death or illness of a loved one - and make your best attempt to "be there" for them as best you can from where you are. Sending a text, a letter, a small gift, or even flowers can help demonstrate your concern and affection, and oftentimes the effort is more significant than the actual item sent. Staying involved in the other person's life and letting them know you are there for them when they need you helps you stay close.
Don't wait for special moments to send reminders of your affection. Reminders throughout the day can help you both feel closer and more connected. There is a fine line between sweet reminders and annoying persistence, though - if your partner is incredibly busy throughout the day, don't blast them with texts every hour proclaiming your love and lamenting the lack of responses. You know your partner best; figure out what consistency of contact works best for the both of you. Here are some ideas of sample texts/emails you might send:
- Have a great day today, babe!
- I miss you and I'm thinking about you.
- Thanks for the great conversation last night.
- Can't wait to chat with you this afternoon!
- Only three weeks left before I'll be back in town!
Worth the Effort
If you're truly meant to be with your partner, miles shouldn't be a huge deterrent to being together. Long-distance relationships take considerable effort but are well worth the work if they result in you staying with the person you love. A solid foundation is the key to any successful relationship - long-distance or otherwise.