Long-distance relationships can work.
In fact, Business Insider’s Jessica Orwig reported on research that found couples in long-distance relationship can be just as happy as couples who live closer together. One researcher told Orwig that the key is communication: stating your needs and setting expectations.
Over on Quora, hundreds of people, many with LDR experience, contributed to a thread titled, “Do distance relationships work? How can you make it work?” Their advice was more substantive than simply, “call and text a lot.”
Below, we highlighted the most creative and most insightful pieces of wisdom from that thread.
‘Trust each other, and be worthy of one another’s trust’
Betsy Megas says trust is “by and far the most important thing” in her long-distance relationship with her partner. “I don’t feel we have any secrets between us,” she adds.
‘Talk through doubts and uncertainties together, and work on them together’
Megas says she and her partner have hashed out tough topics like, “Is he going to be homesick when he gets here?” and “Am I ever going to know enough Swedish to carry on a conversation with his mom?”
“I don’t know the answer to either of these questions,” she admits, but discussing them has helped them find some potential solutions.
Sara Zasowski writes:
“If you aren’t together, you need to occupy your time. Engage in activities and develop your friendships. I’ve found that LDRs that have failed often came from isolation and unnecessary degrees of loneliness. You aren’t doing yourself — or your partner — a favor by being home and available all the time. You should mutually agree to be active in order to stay happy.”
‘Make friends with each other’s friends’
In addition to being social with your own friends, it’s worth trying to forge relationships with your partner’s friends as well.
“Since you both are not together in the same city, it can be hard feeling included in each others lives,” says Smriti Iyer, who was in a long-distance relationship for more than four years (he and his partner are now together).
“The best way to feel included is to make friends with the people with whom your partner spends a lot of time with. This will give you a feeling of being a part of the ‘group’.”
‘Know when you’re going to see each other next’
Multiple Quora users mentioned the importance of having a plan for your next reunion, so it doesn’t seem you’re wandering through a long-distance abyss.
Emily Victoria says she met her boyfriend just weeks before she moved to Vietnam for two years. “We always have a countdown,” she wrote.
As of 2015, they were still together and moving into an apartment in the UK.
‘Spend some time being normal together when you can’
Jennifer Poole was with her partner for years before they moved to separate cities and decided to stay together. She shared the importance of involving your partner in your day-to-day routine when they visit:
“It’s tempting to go on vacation together to some exotic locale but that puts your relationship in a weird vacuum — not to mention the expense. So instead we try to be more grounded. For example he stayed in NY with me but I still went to work, we did our laundry and errands, he met my new friends here, and then we went out of town at the weekend.”
‘Read something together’
“Get hold of two copies of the same book or article,” Megas suggests. “Read it and you’ll have something to discuss.”
‘Engage in some reframing’
A long-distance relationship, like any other relationship, will be frustrating.
If you can’t immediately change the situation, Poole suggests changing your mindset: “Of course it’s horribly hard at times, but there are some benefits — it’s very romantic to yearn for each other and strive to be together and count down the days to see each other.”
‘Accept that you’re apart’
Zasowski has a nice meditation on coming to terms with the distance, instead of fighting it. She writes:
“Some couples become obsessed with ‘spending time’ while apart and, while they mean well, this can lead to resentment and feelings of frustration and being shackled. Setting a required ‘good night’ phone call or Skype date every night at a specific time will disrupt your ability to be free and social — and ultimately, you could learn to dread these phone calls.
“Don’t suffocate one another through limitless mediums. Realize that you’re apart, significant to one another, and that when there’s time, you’ll make it. Create routines that help you touch base but don’t be rigid about them. Being flexible could save you.”