Confined to a virtual space, long-distance relationships are so often spoken about tentatively. While some strongly believe that “long distance doesn’t work”, others say that “distance makes the heart grow fonder”. It is hard to decipher whether there are any realistic ways to have a successful long-distance relationship.

I’m currently buried under a pile of books about literature and art at the fin de siècle whilst my boyfriend of three years is somewhere else, miles away, doing something completely different (probably trying to teach the Year 7 B team how to actually win a football match this time). The details don’t matter when distance is at play. Regardless of your love language, long distance, at the start, is always going to feel like an impossible task. However, rather than just telling you vaguely that it will all work out in the end, here are some helpful ways to make love at a distance that little bit easier.  

Small gestures 

Maintaining a relationship at a distance can often result in glossing over the small things that built the relationship in the first place. Whether it’s surprise-ordering them a coffee through an app, sending them something small in the post, or asking how that important meeting in their day went, it’s these small moments of being remembered that can keep a relationship fun, happy, and meaningful. The same goes for celebrating each other’s wins – big or small. Distance can sometimes make you feel like a passive spectator of the other person’s life, so trying to uphold the same intricacies and intimacies of the conversations and memories you’d share when you were together can prevent your partner from feeling like a stranger.  

Make time (and use FaceTime) 

Despite no longer living in a time of phone calls alone, many couples don’t utilise video calls. It is so much easier to maintain a relationship when it feels like the other person is actually in the room with you, even if they’re only a floating head on your phone screen. Making time to video call means that you’re actively engaging with your partner; putting your lives on pause for a few moments so that you can catch-up and chat properly. Doing this everyday might feel like overkill, even if it is only for a couple of minutes. However, allocating time for your partner within your day can make your time apart pass quicker. Bonus points for putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” while you video call so you’re not distracted by incoming messages from other people.  

Be patient with each other 

No one is ever going to pretend that a long-distance relationship is easy. But it also shouldn’t feel like a constant source of stress. Allowing each other some space and setting expectations can really help keep healthy boundaries in the relationship. Communication is always going to be harder when you’re apart, and relying on messaging alone can mean that intentions get lost in tone and translation. Being extra patient with one another can prevent tensions from reaching boiling point, and communicating when things are feeling difficult can stop resentment from creeping in. Finding a happy way to do long-distance takes time, and the adjustment period can mean reworking all the expectations you’d originally built within your relationship. Patience and understanding allow for some breathing room within the relationship when things are feeling tough or when life inevitably gets busy.  

View the time apart differently  

Often, there is so much dread towards spending time apart, and this can make the reality of it really painful. However, trying to see this time differently has the potential to benefit yourselves as individuals; you can make it feel like a period of opportunity, rather than a period of loss. In many ways, time apart gives you the opportunity for personal growth, and you can dedicate time to new things that you would never have tried if your partner had been close by. You could apply for some work experience, read a new book, join a running club – reallocate the time together, making it an era of self-development and self-care. Long-distance relationships can offer time to grow as individuals so that, when you see each other again, you have so much more to offer, share, and enjoy together.  

Always have an end-date to the long-distance 

Whether it’s always having a planned date for when you’ll next see each other, or a definitive plan for the end of the long-distance relationship, having moments to look forward to are critical for keeping the excitement alive. It can take a lot more effort and planning, but having dates in the diary and moments that solidify when you’ll be together again is the overarching way to make each day feel worthwhile. Long-distance relationships are a time game, so making that time feel fun and sustainable can keep your relationship healthy in the long-term.   

There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to maintaining a healthy long-distance relationship, but adapting or implementing some of these tips can help your long-distance relationship feel more manageable. Hopefully, they might even make it feel enjoyable in the process.