When I started producing content for YouTube almost six years ago, one of the first content pieces I ever created was on long-distance relationships – tips and strategies to help long distance couples stick together.
I never would have believed it was advice I’d one day need myself!
Thanks to this wonderful pandemic, I and my partner were locked apart–I in Australia, and my partner in the US–for over 12 months.
Now, having come back together, I thought I’d share with you the five things that made the biggest difference in helping us bridge the Pacific Ocean.
Weekly Date Night
This is an essential habit in all relationships, not just in long distance. Every Sunday morning (her Saturday), we’d book out four hours (give or take) for a video date.
If you’re in a long-distance relationship, I would strongly recommend you make this one of your deal breaker standards. You’ll never have threats to your separateness in an LDR. All the primary relationship threats will be connection based (due to the physical distance). That’s why rituals that support connection, like a weekly date night, are even more important for you both to feel safe in the relationship. Don’t skimp on this.
“It’s important to bring compatibility topics up. That way, you can either work through them or not waste extra time in a dead-end relationship.”
Know The Plan
An essential part of having a good foundation of safety in a long-distance relationship is knowing the plan for when you’re going to see each other. If you can’t know an exact date, working together on the plan so you can have an exact date is the next best thing. This provides essential safety for both of you in the relationship, shines a light on either partners’ potential avoidance (so it can be addressed), and ultimately, gives you both a light at the end of the long-distance tunnel.
You can’t spend all your time talking about the relationship or what you did that day. A great way to bring in new topics is by doing shared activities together.
A few of our favourites included…
- Reading a book together (every week or every two weeks)
- Watching a movie or documentary series together
- Leave the house and go to drive or food, one person takes the other on a video date
- Playing online/board games together
- Exercising together
Just like a regular couple, you need outside focuses to bond over outside of the relationship.
You’ve got needs, as does he. Unless you’re doing the no-sex-before-marriage thing, it goes without saying you’re both going to need outlets for your sexual energy. Sexting, video sex, and sex calls are all part of the sexual experience of having a partner, so make sure to make this part of your routine.
*Note: Exceptions to this are if you haven’t had sex with your partner yet – i.e. you met online. If that is the case, proceed much more slowly with sexting and video sex. Unless you’re not fazed by the possibility of him disappearing, take time, 3-6 months, to build up to video sex and be sure you can trust him and his consistency first. *
Have The Difficult Compatibility Conversations
These are hard conversations to have, but let me tell you, avoiding them is even harder. Long distance is an effort, and if either of you are having doubts about compatibility, it’s going to come out as avoidance and make your partner insecure, so it’s important to bring compatibility topics up. That way, you can either work through them or not waste extra time in a dead-end relationship.
Compatibility areas to consider include kids, work-life balance, money, health, living location and spirituality. This means considering questions like…
Do you know where your partner wants to live long term… is it the same place as you?
Does he see kids in his future? Do you?
Does his life vision fit with yours?
What are both of your religious/spiritual beliefs? What do you both want in this area long term?
Do you have similar ‘enough’ values on spending versus saving?
Do you have similar ‘enough’ values on health?
If the two of you aren’t comparable, you’d rather know sooner rather than later, so you both can make the appropriate decision and, if necessary, rip the band aid off.
Have A Coach (each)
If you can invest the time and the finances, I really recommend you both have your own dating/relationship coaches during this time. It’s certainly been a big help for both me and my partner. The big difference it made for us is twofold.
- A coach will call you out on your BS, meaning you confront it and address it, without blaming your partner for it.
- A coach will help you speak up on your needs clearly and own them, pushing you into the discomfort of asking for your wants/needs, having the difficult conversations and setting boundaries with your partner
This makes you a better partner AND your partner will also appreciate you for it. As a man, knowing that my partner has a coach made me feel like she was taking responsibility for her side of things, instead of blaming her triggers on me, which gave me a feeling of freedom with her. This, paradoxically, made me comfortable to move closer to her.
I hope these tips help your long-distance relationship thrive! After a year, we finally came back together this January and it was so worth it. You’ll be able to see a clip of our reunion on this week’s YouTube video, which you’ll see under this article once it’s published.