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How to Make a Distance Relationship Work

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Belinda is a psychologist and relationship writer. Passionate about relationships and how to make them work. Let's connect on LinkedIn

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble


A heart attack is more likely to happen on Monday.

It can happen to everyone.

You have landed this new work-related assignment. This is a nonfamily station that is out of town or in another country.

We all agree that finding work is VERY difficult. The U.S alone lost over 33,000 Jobs in September 2018; Unemployment Rate Dips to 4.2%.


What will happen to your family? You are newly wedded or have been in a stable family for a while.

You know the feeling, don't you?

You cannot afford to lose that job, It comes with a better package and as a family, you need that extra cash. As a mom, you need to support your spouse financially. After all, family comes first you can't afford to lose either.

This is crazy:

You have to start a long distance relationship.

You keep asking do long distance relationship work? What is good about a long-distance relationship? Can this kind of relationship work for college students? And what tips do you need to keep long distance relationship healthy?

That's difficult, isn't it?

Stay with me.

You will learn how to make a long distance relationship work.

Can I show you how?

Let's get started.

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Long Distance Relationship? Hit or Miss

Life is a rollercoaster.

Scroll to Continue

Many people believe a long distance relationship is never going to work. You actually have the power to decide if yours will work or not.

Love from a distance makes you remember why you loved in the first place. Research shows couples who live apart are more satisfied in their relationship than couples who are close.


The extra distance can make things complicated. Yet being apart can develop greater levels of dedication making you have fewer feelings of being trapped.

It gets worse.

When your long distance relationship started going south.

Can I show you how?

When your spouse is now less available. In the beginning, you talked every walking second- in Text, G-chat, phone calls, and emails- but now there are hard to reach.

You now have regular missed Skype and phone dates. You feel that phone calls are no longer fun.

You start making more future-oriented plans without your spouse. And you start feeling happier alone. Have started lying about one's whereabouts.

Watch these red flags. They are signs of slow death in your relationship.

If you commit to making it work. You have a chance of a healthy and strong distance relationship

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Long distance relationship statistics

Over 7 million couples are in a long distance relationship. Military assignments, college, work, and better opportunities keep couples apart.

Any relationship that is 125 miles or more apart is a long distance relationship. Of course, the distance may differ but if you can not see your spouse daily or a few times a week it's a long distance.

At Least 40% of marriages end up in divorce. Out of the 2 million marriages in U.S. 800,000 fail.

It gets worse:

40% of long-distance relationship does not survive. Not because of the distance, but its because they did not plan for the changes. In fact on average long distance relationship break after 4 months.

Moving from a close relationship to a long distance requires a lot of sacrifices. There is a lot to give and take and only a few can offer.

At Least 75% of college claim to have taken part in an LDR. It's like a rite of passage or part of growing up. High school sweethearts are the most common long-distance couples. Although not all start in high school.

It only takes 4.5 months for LDR to disintegrate. if couples can't work things out. Many worry about cheating, mistrust, and infidelity leading to separation.

What is good about a long distance relationship?

“ Absence makes the heart grow fonder”

This quote is often told to couples who are starting a long distance relationship.

Your boyfriend is going to out of state college for three years. It’s going to work! distance makes the heart grow fonder.

Stay positive shine away from statements as I give you three, four, six months max….

Healthy long distance relationship comes with many benefits

A study by Dr. Crystal Jiang from the communication department at the City University in Hong Kong. He claims that long distance relationship couples try harder than close couples. In communicating intimacy and affection. Their efforts do payback

Science aside the one and a half year long distance did strengthen my relationship.

Here are the benefits of a long distance relationship.

  • You become a better planner.
  • Knowing that if you survive LDR you can survive anything.
  • Long distance relationship is lessons for effective communication.
  • For it to work both parties must have an equal commitment.
  • They force one to be independent in relationships.
  • Both parties get plenty of “ my time”
  • It's full of adventure and exotic travel.
  • The LDR is more than physical.
  • Your trust will grow overnight.
  • You learn how to prioritize time for your spouse.

Next time you hear your friend is in an LDR remember.

This is not for the faint-hearted. It's full of jealousy, second-guessing, meaningless argument and a lot of sleep alone. Which are all trying times?

Long distance relationship in college

Once upon a time, a boy met a girl, they fell in love and live happy for the next three decades in the same house.

That was then and now.

Imagine a quarter and one-half of college students are currently in a long distance relationship.

But, as anyone can tell this is not very easy. Many of this relationship does not last past the “break- vember”. (The nickname given to the first November of their freshman year. When many high school sweethearts quit relationships.

For those that survive have to endure the test of time. You cannot do much. One day in your life you will have to endure a long distance relationship.

It can happen to anyone.

Lucky you who have started to prepare for any chances.

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Starting a Long Distance Relationship

Every time I say I'm doing the whole “long distance relationship thing “ and it's going to work. My friends laugh. Or look skeptical.

I don't blame them.

They did not make any considerations before they started.

Lets start at the beginning, shall we?

Tips to Make Long Distance Relationship Work

Here are tips that will make your long distance relationship succeed.

Setting expectations

A belief in modern dating is that relationship just happen naturally. Two people meet and if they are fit for one another. Like magic, everything will fall into place.

That's not true.

Setting some ground rules from the beginning is important. This will not take the other party by surprise.

A successful relationship requires more communication. Your partner needs to know what you expect from one another. Why be with someone whom you don't have the same end game.

Regardless of how feelings develop without the same expectation, the result is very stressful and devastating. The longer you stay in a relationship due to temporary hopes and feelings the more you get frustrated.

Avoid unrealistic expectation that will kill your relationship. You don't want to be hurt, you expect your partner to keep the promise forever. Thinking that your partner knows you enough to know what you want or what you meant.

Hoping that your partner should always give you the top priority. Being in a relationship is all about sex and you should have it whenever you want it. Or you and your partner will not need anyone since you are in a relationship.

Seeing it as an opportunity

See this as a learning opportunity. This is the test of your love. Instead of seeing the long-distance relationship as pulling you apart. You should believe that it's short-lived and you will pull out bound stronger.

Chinese say “ Real gold is not afraid to be tested with fire.” Learn from the distance love situation.

Staying positive

You need that positive energy to keep a long-distance relationship alive.

The waiting can be long and painful and can sometimes feel very lonely. You need to remind yourself that the end result will be sweet heaven.

Be grateful all the time. Be thankful that you have someone to love and to be loved back. Be thankful for little things, gifts and handmade letters that you receive from your partner. Pray always for good health and safety for you and your partner.

Be confident with your relationship. Insecurity can lead you to be checking on one another too often. This can result in excessive texting, calling creating unnecessary tension.

Stay honest with one another

Being honest is telling your partner about your feelings, apathy, jealousy, insecurities. There is nothing that you hold back to your partner. If you try to hide something from your partner the secret will soon or later swallow you up from inside.

Be open and honest with one another. Don't deal with issues all by yourself. Let your partner know and give each the necessary support. Communicate any problem at the initial stage other than wait to disclose it when it's too late.

Building trust in your relationship is vital regardless of the distance. Be faithful and avoid temptations. If you make mistakes it's good, to be honest, and tell your partner. Use email and online resources to cultivate trust and romantic relationship.

Get a good messaging app

It can be very expensive to call your partner especially if you are not in the same country.

Texting is the most frequent and best way for common communication. A good messaging App on your phone will enable better interactions beyond emotions and words. Here are some recommendations.

  • WhatsApp
  • LINE
  • Viber
  • Telegram

Feel free to play with emojis and funny stickers. You can buy low-cost gift stickers ( hello kitty, Snoopy, Pokemon, MARVEL or extra themed stickers ) from this Apps. Make your communication as romantic as possible after all you are only in distance love.

Gift personal objects on each other

There is one thing that you hold on from your partner. It may be a small pendant, keychain, a ring, a collection of videos and songs, a bottle of a precious fragment.

These gifts have attached meanings and memories in your relationship. We store memories with these physical things. When our mind misses your partner this gifts can help bring the memories.

Send each other gifts that you will treasure. Anything from simple toys, to love letters will work. This can mean so much to the other person while to others it may be of little value.

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Know each other schedule

Knowing your partner work schedule, time zone and sleep preference. This can reduce wreak havoc to most well-intentioned couples. Especially when it comes to communication.

Partners need to settle for the best time to communicate. This will come with a sacrifice especially if you are in different time zones. Agree when one can devote private time?

How does your spouse feel about a spontaneous text? When do you feel like the most intimate part of your day or when do you crave connection the most? Who should initiate the contact? Do you prefer a set time or should the communication vary from day by day?

There is no limitation to the communication arrangement that can work as long as they feel mutually satisfying. Be mindful to choose a schedule that works for both of you. Both should work to make this happen.

Make technology your best friend.

Long distance relationship is now easier than before. You used to send letters which took days or months and in most time they never reached. With modern technology, we have many ways to stay connected.

You can share your videos, photos and audio messages in real time. Keep track of each other on social media.

Tweet each other, Like each other photos on Facebook and Instagram. Tag each other and share on each other wall. Do it responsibly don't wash your dirty linen in public. In Case of disagreement do not post it on social media as it may be blown out of proportion.

In this communication its good to share details of what is happening in your life instead of generalization.

Talk about who is there, what you ate and how it made you feel. What is happening at your workplace or in your college? Come live to your partner even if they are not there.

You can play an online game together. Watch a movie on YouTube or Vimeo at the same time. You can go ahead and sing to each other on Skype. Play guitar or even take a walk together outside in a video call. Don't forget to go online shopping together and definitely buy each other gifts.

Read books together, Watch TV shows, movies, news or even listen to music at the same time. You will get more common things to talk about. Create a lot of shared experience even though you are apart. Have fun after all this is life.

image by Arnica Kala via dribble

image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Communicate creatively to one another

Communication is the building block to any relationship. Greet each other every day, say good morning, good night. Update one another on what is happening on the other end.

You maintain an emotional connection when you stay connected. Frequent communication no matter how small shows that you care about each other.If you allow days and weeks to pass everyday experience fade and you will have to start from scratch each time you speak.

Know your partner’s preferred mode of communication. Use the different available technologies email, texting or video call.

Work around your schedule if you are going to be busy to communicate. inform your partner in advance. Make it flexible and easy to be reached.

Image by Arnica Kala.via dribble

Image by Arnica Kala.via dribble

Stay committed to each other.

Be honest by volunteering private information. Make the relation work not because of social pressure but because of personal values. Social approval or disapproval for example “ My mom will be angry if I cheat on my girlfriend “ Avoid situations where your partner is manipulating you to his benefit, like lying in order to answer her call in the middle of a business meeting.

Avoid dangerous situations

Your partner already knows that you regularly go to clubs and drink with a group of friends late at night.

These are some of the dangerous situations. It leaves worries to the other end of the relation. For this you either 1. Not do it or 2 tell your partner in advance and reassure him/her that you will be responsible.

Avoid such situations that will make your partner more worried or extra suspicious.He/ she feels very upset since she is powerless or lacks control of the situation.

Such situations can be easy traps which are unconsciously set up by your office mates. You need to recognize the dangers of going out with a girl or guy whom you have been flirting in the office or school program.

In such situations don't just listen to your heart. Listen to your mind too...

image by Arnica Kal via dribble

image by Arnica Kal via dribble

Visit each other and plan an end date

Long distance relationship cannot last forever. Eventually, you will want to be in the same place as your partner. Start planning how you will live with each other.

As part of the plan, you can buy house items together. Decide which town or place you are going to settle or eventually buy a home together. Set the time limit and have goals that both will commit to.

Make time to visit each other as often as possible. Save and enough money to buy air tickets and money enough for a holiday treat for your partner.

Make regular visiting schedules, When you are together, make plans for your next visit. Talk about the fun places you will visit together. Visit your favorite restaurant, enjoy your night together at home also share your favorite activities. Make them as memorable as possible.

Face to face communication in a relationship is satisfying it improves commitment and trust.

Make early travel logistic preparation agree on where to meet at the airport or train station. Carry small bags to save time at the airport. But of course, don't forget the many gifts for your partner.

Visits are the highlight of every long-distance relationship.

After all the yearning, waiting and abstinence. You get finally to meet each other. Fulfill all the things like holding hands, kissing and having sex. After long wait trust me it works like goiter bombs, rainbows, butterflies everywhere or even fireworks. Avoid distractions from friends who have been longing to see you. But create some great quality time with your partner.

image by Arnica Kala via dribble

image by Arnica Kala via dribble

image by Arnica Kala via dribble

image by Arnica Kala via dribble

Coping with Conflict in a Long Distance Relationship.

Fights and disagreement are inevitable in a romantic relationship. It does happen even in a long-distance relationship. Because you disagree it doesn't mean your relationship is in real trouble.

Fights can improve your relationship if handled well. If you don't talk about your problem you never solve them. How can you resolve conflict in LDR?

  • Know that your partner is human.Not always perfect.
  • Be direct on what is bothering you.
  • Talk about your feelings without blaming your partner.
  • Pick your battles in a constructive discussion.
  • Listen to your partner.
  • Do not object your partner complain.
  • Take a different perspective to understand your partner
  • Don't show contempt to your partner.
  • Don't get overwhelmed with negativity.
  • Know when its time for a time-out.

For anything worth having one must pay the price; the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice.”

— -John Burroughs

When to Reach a Professional Help.

Evidence shows that a long distance relationship can be frustrating. Consult a professional when you feel stressed. When you have panic attacks. Or developing a depression.

Visit a medical doctor, psychologist, life coach or a relationship therapist. These are professionals with vast experience who can help you get back on track.

Subscribe to life coach forums. Listen to relationship podcast and learn on how to improve your relationship. Go to workshops to share and learn from other people experiences.

Is Long Distance Relationship For Me: Final Thought.

We all agree that LDR can be one of the toughest journey a couple can experience.

Many instances you can go from feeling invincible to wanting to immediately quit the relationship.

It's an indefinite emotional roller coaster.

Of course, this cannot work for everyone. Try as much to avoid instance that will stay apart from your partner.

If you cannot stop it then you have to stay positive that it will work. Be strong as long distance relationship does not rely on physical love, its driven by love inspired by heart, mind, and soul.

Let's start the discussion in the comment section below. Share your success and fears in your long distance relationship.


dashingscorpio from Chicago on February 23, 2020:

"Many people believe a long distance relationship is never going to work. You actually have the power to decide if yours will work or not." - Very true.

It all begins with defining what making a LDR work means.

Is it maintaining the relationship for 3 months, 6 months, a year or more? The truth is long distance relationships were meant to be temporary. The goal is to be with the person you love!

Many college freshman fell into a long distance relationship when they decided to maintain relationships with their "high school sweethearts" while they went away to different universities.

Generally speaking they are too immature and have unrealistic expectations in believing they will maintain a LDR for the next 4-6 years while they pursue their degrees. Usually what happens is after a semester or two each person makes new friends on their campus, attend events, go to parties, possibly pledge a sorority or fraternity and eventually bond or date someone who is actually with them.

Whenever there is no realistic "light at the end of the tunnel" whereby one person will be relocating to be with the other couples eventually drift apart.

{It's the counting down of the months, weeks, and days until one is finally done with the inconvenience of being in a long distance relationship that keeps it strong!}

In my opinion the only good reason for being in a LDR is the belief that he/she is "the one". Otherwise if you're just dating someone for the fun of it you might as well do that locally. One man's opinion! :)

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on February 19, 2020:

A very interesting article and very good points for anyone in a long distance relationship to consider. Good job.

Belinda (author) from Kenya on February 11, 2019:

Thanks Long distance relationship needs commitment. Highschool sweethearts are not quite mature but they also feel hurt when they go through a breakup.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on February 09, 2019:

"Many people believe a long distance relationship is never going to work. You actually have the power to decide if yours will work or not."

First of all you have to define what does making it "work" mean.

Is it being in a long distance relationship relationship for 3 months, 6 months, a year, or staying together all the way towards marriage?

"40% of long-distance relationship does not survive. Not because of the distance, but its because {they did not plan} for the changes." - Very true!

Truth be told long distance relationships were meant to be (temporary). The goal is to be with the person you love!

There has to be a (plan) whereby someone will be relocating to be with the other person at some point. As you mention it is very common for high school sweethearts to go away to separate universities with the plan of maintaining a long distance relationship for the next (4-6 years) while they pursue their degrees.

Generally speaking they are too immature and unrealistic. After a semester or two they make new friends, socialize, attend sporting events and other gatherings with fellow students who are actually on campus with them and gradually develop romantic interests.

Whenever there is no realistic "light at the end of the tunnel" couples are likely to drift apart.

It's the counting down of the months, weeks, and days until one is finally done with the inconvenience of being in a long distance relationship that keeps it strong!

When it comes to love and relationship most of us (fail our way) to success. Very few people hit a homerun their first, second, third, or fourth time up at bat. If this were not the case we would all be married to our high school sweethearts!

Not many people meet their "soulmate" in their teenage years.

Most young people pursue relationships without having taken the time to figure out who (they) are let alone know what they want and need in a mate for life. Whatever traits one feels makes for an "ideal mate" at ages 17, 18, or 19 is not likely going to cut it for them at ages 25, 30, or beyond. We're constantly evolving.

The best reason for being in a LDR is because you believe he/she is "the one". If you're just dating for the fun of it you may as well do that locally. One man's opinion! :)

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 07, 2019:

Nice article about relationships!

You have shared some relatable and valid points, with some valuable suggestions, to make the long distance relationships work.

While it’s difficult and painful for couples to live apart, but if there is mutual understanding and trust, the distances don’t really matter.

Thanks for sharing this well written and insightful article.

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