How to make long-distance relationships work

Woman talking to partner on computer

Being in a relationship with someone isn’t always easy when there are a whole heap of kilometres between you. But just because they don’t live five minutes away doesn’t mean that the relationship won’t work. 

By reflecting on what’s important to you, approaching your relationship a little differently and communicating clearly with your partner, you might find that long-distance romance can still make you feel happy and loved. Check out these tips for how to make long-distance relationships work.

Make sure you both feel ready

There are lots of reasons why people choose to be in long-distance relationships. Maybe you’ve been offered an exciting opportunity in a different city or country. Or you might have met someone really cool who doesn’t live in the same place as you, but you’ve kept in touch and want to keep exploring a relationship together.

Long-distance relationships come with their fair share of challenges, so you’ll want to make sure it’s a good decision for you. If it’s still early days, do you feel ready to start a relationship while living somewhere else? If you’ve been with this person for a while, are they someone you feel is a really good match for you and are they willing to put in the effort required to keep the relationship going?

You might need to have some pretty tricky conversations with the other person, but it’s important that you both feel like you’re on the same page. 

Be confident in your relationship

It’s easy to see the distance that’s separating you from your partner as a negative thing. And things like loneliness, miscommunication or feelings of insecurity can certainly creep in when you’re away from someone. 

But if you can go into the situation with a positive mindset, and you’re not willing to give up at the first sign of trouble, then you’re already setting yourself up for more success. 

Keep reminding yourself of all the positive things about your partner and your dynamic together, and you’ll feel a lot more confident about navigating this situation. Remember, there are many happy couples who spend much of their time living in different places!

Stay in regular touch

If you can’t see each other often, the next best thing is to chat online, over video or on the phone regularly. Stay up to date on what’s happening in each other’s lives to avoid feeling as though they’ve disappeared completely.

If there’s a time difference, figure out when it works for both of you and make that your special ‘couple’ time. In the meantime, firing off hilarious memes, voice messages and photos of your day is an easy way to keep the mood fun and light. 

If you’re comfortable with it and it’s consensual, sexting can also add a fun and flirty element to your relationship. The same goes for sending each other nudes – but just make sure you’ve chatted about what this means before you hit send, and that you’re both feeling safe and fully into it. 

Be completely honest

Trust is an important part of any healthy relationship, whether or not it’s a long-distance one. If it looks like you’re hiding something, your partner might feel a little suspicious and start to question you and your relationship. 

Being honest means that the two of you can work together to overcome any challenges. Try to be open with each other about your feelings, experiences and any concerns you may have.

Keep your jealousy in check

If your partner lives in a different place from you, chances are they’ll have their own friends and social circles, or they’ll be making new ones.

Feeling jealous is normal, but try not to let your imagination get the better of you. Just because they mention they’ve made an awesome new friend, it doesn’t mean they’re in love with them and planning to elope.

Talking about how you feel with your partner or someone else you trust, like a friend, can help with feelings of jealousy

Set some ground rules

Everyone chooses to do long-distance relationships differently. You might agree to talk every day, once a week or once a month. You may even decide you don’t want to have an exclusive relationship while you’re living apart. Whatever it is, make sure you both come to an agreement so that everything feels fair.

Young man at airport staring to his right

Make plans

We love to make plans, because it gives us something to look forward to. Plan a trip to go and visit your partner, or arrange a dinner date via video call for next Friday night. Reservation for two, 8 pm?

It can also be helpful to make plans for the long-term future, so that you can feel some reassurance about where your relationship is heading. You might not know what that looks like right now, and of course things can change, but even just brainstorming that with your partner can make you both feel encouraged.

Find the upside

Yes, long-distance relationships can be a real pain, but there are good things about them as well. You get all the support and love from being in a relationship, but you’ve still got lots of time to spend with your friends and family and to do the things you want to do.

Figure out what the upside is for you. Maybe it’s that you get to spend more time focusing on your studies or career, or that you don’t have to fight over what movie you want to watch at night. Embracing your independence can be great for the both of you. 

Be there for your partner, even when you’re not actually there

Even though your partner is living far away from you, they’re still going through all of the everyday ups and downs that they always went through. So, make sure they still feel that you support and care for them, even though you can’t physically see them.

Check in regularly via text or calls. You could spend some time with them gaming and chatting online. You could even go old school and write them a love letter or post them a card that made you think of them. Don’t be afraid to send a big virtual hug every now and then to show them that you love and support them. 

Surprise them

Some people love surprises. Whether it’s receiving a random text that says ‘You’re amazing’, or having a delicious pizza delivered unexpectedly to your doorstep, surprises never get old. And there are plenty of fun and exciting ways to keep things interesting.

All relationships come with their own challenges, and in long-distance relationships it can feel like you need to do more to make it work. But if you can find different ways to communicate and show each other support, your relationship can feel just as strong as if you were living in the same place.

What can I do now?

  • Jump on to the ReachOut Online Community to chat with other young people about how they make long-distance relationships work.partner how to manage the pressures of being apart.

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