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How to Thrive in a Long-Distance Relationship

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I have heard for years and years that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”  I am now able to tell you that this is certainly true.  But long-distance relationships are not always rainbows and butterflies.  Long-distance relationships are rewarding and so worth it, but also challenging and frustrating at times.  I have come to find that long-distance relationships are not easy.  Like all relationships they require some effort, good communication, and work… but (not to sound gushy), most importantly: love!

hannah jeremy wedding 2Jeremy and I recently celebrated our two-year dating anniversary, and almost half of the time that we have “officially” been together has been spent living five hours apart.  On average, we see one another about every three to four weeks.  Ideally, I would much rather be seeing him every three to four hours, but unfortunately that is not realistic or possible for us at this time.  Both Jeremy and I are keeping our eyes peeled for possible job opportunities for him here in Omaha, but until that time comes, we are making the best of what we have together.  Over the past nine months of dating long-distance, I have learned a lot about what it takes to thrive (not just survive) in a long-distance relationship.  So many people all over the world find themselves in long-distance relationships at some point in their lives, so I hope these insights and ideas can help keep you and your significant other’s relationship strong.  And for the record, many of these still apply for those of you who are fortunate enough to live in the same city as your significant other.

Long Distance Relationship Graphic1. Make an effort to talk on the phone and/or Skype at least four to five times per week.

Jeremy and I are both very busy and have pretty crazy work schedules.  Some days he goes into work at 4:00 a.m. and there are days when I stay late at work until 8:00 p.m. for events.  Therefore, our schedules are not always ideal for talking on the phone or Skyping.  However, when we are both free in the evenings, we almost always take the time to Skype or to make a phone call before bed.  Sometimes our conversations are only 30 minutes long, and other times we talk for well over an hour.  Are these methods of communication as great as talking in person?  Of course not.  But they make the time between our in-person visits go by a little bit faster.  Can we also briefly talk about how amazing Skype is?  I love being able to not only talk to Jeremy, but to actually see him (and his puppy dog who makes random appearances)!

2. Always keep a countdown for when you will see each other next.

Not knowing the next time you will see one another is so difficult and makes the time between your visits seem like an eternity.  Jeremy and I always have a date in mind for when we will see one another next.  Several times per week, I normally add up the number of days that stand between us seeing one another.  As of today, we have 15 days to go!

long-distance texts3. Send one another “good morning” texts to start your day in a positive way.

I am sure that most people who live with or near their significant other start and end their days by saying, “I love you.”  Even though our morning greetings may be by text message, they are still meaningful nonetheless.  Simply saying hello and “I love you” let’s the other person know that you always start your day thinking of them.

long-distance clothes4. Share clothing.

Now I do not mean this in a creepy or weird way.  I simply mean that sharing a specific clothing item with your significant other can be used as a sense of comfort and as a reminder of the happiness that person brings to you.  Jeremy and I have a system where I wear one of his sweatshirts for a few weeks (normally in the evening and/or to bed), and then I switch with him each time that I see him.  This way his sweatshirt smells like me for a little while, and the new sweatshirt that I get from Jeremy smells like him.  It is amazing the power that scent has!  This may also explain why I am often wearing fishing/hunting-related clothing 😉

5. Meet in the middle.

Sure, you can meet in the middle when it comes to compromising on things, but this is more referring to meeting in the middle geographically.  A couple of times per year, Jeremy and I plan a weekend in Des Moines (which is about halfway between us) to spend time with one another.  This prevents either of us from having to drive the full five hours, and enables us to see one another more often.  It is also a great “mini vacation” and a chance to do some of the things we enjoy most- eating delicious food and drinking beer- with one another.  These weekends are never elaborate, but I always look forward to them so much.

6. Send one another goofy pictures of yourself.

I have several goofy pictures of both Jeremy and me that I could share here, but I have decided to spare both of us the humiliation.  Jeremy and I like to send each other goofy and embarrassing (no, not inappropriate) pictures to make one another laugh.  We both make some pretty awful facial expressions and we aren’t afraid to share them with each other.  I love to laugh and I love making him laugh.  It is a win-win!

long-distance virtual date7. Plan virtual Skype “dates.”

Since Jeremy and I currently live 5 hours away from one another, going out to dinner is simply not an option.  However, this past weekend I came up with the idea for us to have a virtual Skype dinner date.  I wanted to surprise him with the idea, so I sent him instructions (buy an apple, stop at Subway on your way home from work, get a beer out of your fridge, etc.) by text.  While he was performing these simple tasks, I was doing the same.  When I told him to get on Skype at 7:00, we were both set and ready to go.  I posted a picture on Instagram during our date.  Sure, it was not quite the same as an actual dinner date, but we both really enjoyed it.  When you cannot date in person, a dinner date on Skype just might be the next best thing!  Next time we are going to plan a meal to cook “together.”  I am already really looking forward to that.

8. Send one another special cards or letters “just because.”

Receiving a letter or even just a goofy card in the mail from your significant other can completely turn your entire day around in a great way.  It is also a wonderful way to show the other person that you love them and think of them at random times throughout your day.  I am not a huge lover of surprises, but these kind of surprises are ones that I am totally on board with.

Colorado9. Take a vacation together.

Jeremy and I could not think of a better way to use vacation days from work than to spend them taking a trip together!  This past Summer we went to Colorado for a week and had an absolute blast.  We love exploring new places (especially restaurants and breweries) together, and having a vacation planned together in your future gives you something fun to look forward to and be excited about together.

10. Communicate!

I decided to end this list with something that may seem rather obvious, but that is so vital to a healthy long-distance relationship.  Communicate, communicate, communicate!  Getting one’s feelings across are definitely not quite as easy when you are at a distance.  But it is so important to bring up concerns, questions, worries, feelings, etc.  The two of us went through a phase where we were not as honest about our feelings/concerns and it did not bode well for us.  We have since learned from that and are much stronger for it.

For those of you who are in, have been in, or will be in a long-distance relationship in the future, I hope you can relate and that you will find these suggestions helpful.  Long-distance relationships are certainly not easy.  But with a little bit of effort and a lot of love, you can make them work.  It is 100% possible to thrive and not just survive in a long-distance relationship!

For those of you who are or have been in a long-distance relationship, what are your suggestions for thriving together as a couple?

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{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Kaylin @ Enticing Healthy Eating November 11, 2014, 12:53 am
    Yes! I, too, am in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend of 4 years this Thursday (Woah! 4 Years!). He recently moved 3 1/2 hours away from me for a job this past May and it has been long distance for us since then. It was rough..especially since we were so used to living closer together when we attended college. But your tips are some of the main points we keep in mind to keep us and our relationship strong. I honestly feel like it's been a journey and a growing adventure for the both of us and how we act/react to situations as a couple going through this new aspect of our lives. We hope to maybe live together by next Summer once the lease on his apartment is up where he currently lives. So until then, we make the best of it! And still love each other deeply. Kaylin @ Enticing Healthy Eating recently posted...Holiday Spinach Salad with Cranberry VinaigretteMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:16 pm
      Yes, it is all about making the best of what you have at the time! I so agree that is definitely a learning/growing experience together as a couple. I hope he gets to move near you soon!! P.S. Happy Early Anniversary :)
  • Jessie November 11, 2014, 1:03 am
    Great list! Joshua and I've done the long distance relationship many times due to him being in the military and deployed. Communication & making time to visit each other is KEY! If you or your SO don't put in the effort, it's not going to work - plain & simple. Care packages were always a blast to put together and send. I remember before I had moved down to where he 1st got stationed, I had called one of those places that does "men care packages". Usually they send little bottles of beers with men snacks. Kind of like an Edible Arrangement, but for guys. It was a fun twist & he loved it! I have to add whenever you are in a long distance relationship & your visiting one another - kEEP THE ELECTRONICS AWAY! These are seconds you won't ever get back. Make every moment count. Jessie recently posted...Babies Update: 28 Weeks & 3 DaysMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 12:03 pm
      Haha, those "men care packages" sound hilarious.. but awesome. I bet he loved it! I hear you on the electronics part, too. Whenever he is visiting I am rarely ever on my computer or phone because I just want to cherish the time we have together.
  • Joanna @Makingmine November 11, 2014, 6:20 am
    Great tips Hannah! Jeff and I did a lot of these when we were long distance for a year. Like you said - very hard, sometimes frustrating, but ALWAYS worth it! Hope the starts align with a job soon, but in the meantime, it looks like you two have a good system going! Joanna @Makingmine recently posted...First Trimester CommandmentsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 12:04 pm
      Yes, I hope so too!! It seems like they are posting NOTHING right now that he is interested in. I suppose people aren't really that interested in leaving their job around the holidays... :/
  • Shelly -minettesmaze.blogspot.com/ November 11, 2014, 6:44 am
    Aww that such a great list, and so sweet!!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 12:05 pm
      Thanks, Shelly! I hope he enjoys reading it ;)
  • janelle November 11, 2014, 7:23 am
    Great tips! I did long distance for a few years, and it is hard but at the same time can definitely work, especially in this day and age. Good luck to Jeremy finding a job here soon! You two are adorable. janelle recently posted...Smoky roasted squash soupMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 22, 2014, 4:21 pm
      Thanks Janelle! We so appreciate that!
  • Missy November 11, 2014, 8:24 am
    Y'all's sweatshirt thing is about THE cutest thing I've ever heard. Ive never been in an extended LDR so I applaud you. Also? Now I have this song in my head and I had to listen to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Yxh0q5BI-s
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 12:14 pm
      Haha, that is so funny about the song! And yes, I definitely think I get the better end of the deal with the sweatshirts because extra big sweatshirts are extra cozy and so comfortable!
  • Season November 11, 2014, 8:32 am
    Hey Hannah!!;) love reading your blogs, ESPECIALLY about relationships! And personally knowing you and Jeremy is icing on the cake! My boyfriend Kris and I have been dating for over 2 and a half years and we JUST got a house and moved in together. Otherwise he was living in the quad cities and his job requires him to travel to different states to months on end sometimes! So I completely agree with you that COMMUNICATION is key!! And honesty for sure! Cherish EVERY moment with one another and enjoy:) and just know that with love, you can get through anything.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:18 pm
      It is definitely a challenging experience, but the end result is worth it! I am glad you two are able to live together now. Enjoy your time in DM :)
  • Katie November 11, 2014, 8:48 am
    Love it! boyfriend sweatshirts are always the coziest! Katie recently posted...Walking Fall 2014 GoodbyeMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:20 pm
      They really are!! If he ever finds some of them missing, chances are I might have them ;)
  • Olivia Schwab November 11, 2014, 9:05 am
    This is a great list! My boyfriend and I are in a long distance relationship too. We've been together a little over a year now and I agree when you say that it's hard. However, it's great when you do see each other because it's even more exciting! We call each other or Skype after Ky's done with work probably every day so that's good! It's soo funny because I have sent a basically identical picture of me wearing his sweatshirt that I have. We've never done a Skype date before but that sounds like a great idea! I'll for sure mention that to Ky! You and your boyfriend are soo cute! Good luck in your long distance relationship!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:22 pm
      Thanks for the comment, Olivia. It is so nice to hear about how other people can relate. You two should definitely try a Skype dinner date sometime. It was a really fun time! I have also heard of people playing games (Battleship) and watching movies together. There are a lot of possibilities it sounds like!
      • Olivia Schwab November 11, 2014, 7:47 pm
        Yes we've actually watched a movie together.. via FaceTime! The other night the movie The Wedding Planner was on TV and we both watched it while FaceTiming! It was a lot of fun because it was almost as if we were watching the movie in the same room being able to see each others reactions and commentary!
        • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 9:10 pm
          Aww, that sounds perfect!! What a good movie, too!
  • Susie @ SuzLyfe November 11, 2014, 9:49 am
    I relate to this so much (unfortunately). My now husband and I were in a long distance relationship for 2 years while I was in graduate school and he was in medical school. And now that he is a resident physician sometimes it feels like we still are! Ha, but seriously. Communication and just being open are the most important strategies. We saw each other once a month, switching off between me visiting him and vice versa (also help split costs). We talked on Skype every day, even if for a bit--being able to see each other made such a huge difference. And just trust--you can't sit there and fret the whole time. Do what you have to do, but when it is time for the 2 of you to concentrate on each other, do so fully! Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted...Holiday Survival: Perfect 5-Ingredient RecipeMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:24 pm
      Yes! I could not have said it better myself! I am sure it is challenging with him being so busy (my brother is a 2nd year resident so I know how crazy their schedules are!), but having the end result in mind helps to keep things positive. It will definitely be worth it. And seriously.. what in the world did we do before Skype was invented??
  • Cynthia Cover November 11, 2014, 10:21 am
    My hubby recently had to be away for 10 weeks...it was horrible. We skyped at night and had a visit at 5wks. It really made all the difference so that the kids and I didn't feel so alone. Cynthia Cover recently posted...Can You Please Stop Singing Mom! #SensoryBlogHopMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:25 pm
      It can be such a challenge, but just doing whatever you can (Skype, phone calls, random visits) helps the time to pass by a little bit more quickly!
  • Erin @ Her Heartland Soul November 11, 2014, 10:45 am
    I love this post! These are great tips! I'm thinking job finding thoughts so you guys are not long distance much longer! Josh and I were semi-long distance the entire time we dated. We were an hour and a half away from each other. It was hard at times but definitely not as bad as being hours and hours away from each other. Trust and communication are so important! Erin @ Her Heartland Soul recently posted...Fall LayeringMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:26 pm
      Some days are definitely better than others, but I am trying to keep positive about him finding a job. I just hope it is SOMEWHAT soon!!
  • Kate B November 11, 2014, 11:04 am
    My now husband and I thrived (& sometimes just survived) in a long distance for almost 4 out of 5 years of our dating relationship. There were definitely challenges, but we both felt it was worth working for it. We talked on the phone every evening before bed, no matter what. It was important that we spoke each day, even if it was just "I am so exhausted and need sleep but I love you dearly." Thanks for the fun post! I could have used a few years ago, so I am sure others can too.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:27 pm
      Thank you for sharing your experience, Kate. It is great to know what others can relate (even if the circumstances aren't so wonderful). I suppose when it is meant to be, then making it work during these challenging times is WORTH IT!
  • Mary November 11, 2014, 1:10 pm
    This is a fantastic post. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 2 and a half years, and for a year we've been long distance. I think long distance is just something you can't completely understand until you're in the situation. I did a post similar to this not to long ago, and mentioned most of these things but you have some great ideas that I hadn't thought of. I love meeting in the middle, when we don't have as much time to meet up. Just this past weekend I left his house with one of my favorite hoodies of his. Good luck, I hope he finds a job soon! Mary recently posted...8 Keys to a Long Distance RelationshipMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:32 pm
      Thank you, Mary! It is nice to see how other people can relate. You are right that nobody can fully understand long distance relationships until they are in one themselves. I am heading over to check out your post. How weird that we shared a similar post about a week apart. Apparently great minds think a like! ;) And good job on the hoodie. Every girlfriend is entitled to at least one!
  • Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious November 11, 2014, 1:44 pm
    Great tips! My ex boyfriend and I were together when he was working in China for a year. It was hard! But we made it work. I'm a believer that if you want to make it work, you will. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted...WIN Sports Detergent & GiveawayMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:34 pm
      Yes, half of the battle is mental strength and committment! I am sure that kind of long-distance relationship was extra tough. China is very far away so I am sure you rarely saw one another! :(
  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles November 11, 2014, 2:18 pm
    Such great advice Hannah! I'm definitely remembering this post. I'm not in a long distance relationship per say, but I was 'seeing' someone before I moved and I guess you can say that we've continued that. Neither of us have ever done a real long distance relationship before, so I guess now we have a bit of a 'how-to' if we decide to take that leap! If we decide to do it - it'll be long distance to the max. a 3 1/2 hour flight apart! We'll see what happens. The sweatshirt thing is adorable, by the way. Definitely remembering that one. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted...Inhale Trust, Exhale Fear.My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 4:36 pm
      Thanks Sam! I am thinking good thoughts for the two of you! Just remember that if it is meant to be and you are willing to put in a little extra work, you can definitely make it work. It is the time you have together that makes it all worth it :)
  • Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy November 11, 2014, 7:03 pm
    This is all great advice! My husband and I spent the first year and a half of our relationship dating "long distance." I put that in quotations because we lived an hour and a half away from each other, but we were in college at the time, and it wasn't easy for either of us to get away. We'd usually see each other every 2-3 weeks. Believe it or not, that was before the days of smart phones, so we'd usually keep in touch with phone calls and text messages. Both of us being pretty busy helped too. You have to stay busy, or you'll go crazy! Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy recently posted...I Mustache You Some QuestionsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 8:36 pm
      That is SO true! If you aren't busy then you just sit around thinking about how you wish the other person was there. Plus, keeping busy certainly makes the time between your visits with one another go by SO much more quickly!
  • Alicia November 11, 2014, 7:32 pm
    My bf and I have been together for 5 years now and probably close to 3 years time of that has been long distance if you were to add it all together. I think in your list I would put communicate as my number 1 point. I recently made a move this year to be closer to him, so we now finally have an apartment together but he lives at his work site about 2.5 hours from me so I only see him on average 1 day a month but better than our previous once every 3-4 months. Our hardest long distance was when he was in NY and I was studying abroad in Australia for 5 months. We knew if we could survive that, it was meant to be. It is important to email, skype or text to communicate and phone calls are nice for when you only have like 10 minutes free. Lately our schedules haven't been lining up well so we have been doing shirt phone calls before bed. Vacations together are also nice. We took a trip to the Bahamas for our 4 year anniversary last year. So many people ask me how I do it. Well I keep busy with my own schedule and he keeps busy with his and we talk throughout the day by text and that is what works for us right now. Alicia recently posted...Finally Registered: MIMM#18My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 8:50 pm
      All that matters is that it works for you two! I think it is really difficult for people to understand long-distance relationships unless they have been in one themselves. If you truly want it to work, it can!
  • Dana November 11, 2014, 7:49 pm
    My husband and I did long distance when we were dating. It was almost 2 years of being apart. We just had to compromise a lot. We can both be a bit stubborn and insist it was the other's "turn" to visit each other - we hate driving and even now argue over who has to drive on long trips. This post makes me feel so nostalgic! We've now been married for almost 2 years, the long distance time feels like such a long time ago.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 11, 2014, 8:52 pm
      Compromise is definitely key! We try our best to make sure that neither one of us is driving too much more than the other. It certainly isn't ideal, but it is working well for us with where we are at right now. I also try to remind myself that we are lucky to even be within driving distance. It could certainly be worse!
  • Tiffany Khyla November 11, 2014, 10:37 pm
    These are great tips! I was in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend for about a year of our relationship, but now we live together. Being long-distance really helped us appreciate our time together. We definitely did a lot of things you mentioned here - talked on the phone every night, made plans for the next time we'd see each other, and he never forgot to send me a good morning text. I hope you and Jeremy will be able to live in the same place soon! Tiffany Khyla recently posted...Best Taylor Swift Songs That Weren't Singles.My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 14, 2014, 10:57 pm
      Thanks Tiffany!! I sure hope so too! Hearing about others' success stories and how they now live together is making me feel better :)
  • Dana November 12, 2014, 5:27 am
    As a couple who has lived this and married for nearly 25 years you are spot on and so much goodness for any relationship Dana recently posted...FOUR SEASONS HUALALAI – OUR PIECE OF HEAVENMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 14, 2014, 10:58 pm
      Thanks for the comment, Dana. I love hearing success stories from others who have experienced long-distance relationships. Hopefully soon we will be living together!
  • Ashley November 12, 2014, 8:40 am
    This is such a great list! My husband and I spent the first two years of our relationship living 8 hours apart. We did all of the things you listed and I think that's what has made us have a great relationship years after we started dating.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 14, 2014, 10:59 pm
      Thanks Ashley!! Hearing these success stories makes me feel more positive about the situation. I thought 5 hours was tough, but 8 hours sounds even more challenging!
  • Kristin November 17, 2014, 12:32 am
    Oh man, my boyfriend and I were long distance the first year-plus of our relationship. That all ended about February of this year, and we celebrated our second anniversary October 02nd. Thank goodness that is over. We actually slept "together" over Skype, which was nice, and frequent calls and Skype dates were a must for us. One of our favorite things to do over Skype was make music. He would play guitar and I would sing while he played. Plus he got me a guitar as a gift summer of 2013 and he'd spend time teaching me to play it over Skype. Those made fabulous Skype dates! We also sent mail back and forth, and I sent lots of care packages. On stressful days for him, since I couldn't be there to help with a hug or something, I would order delivery meals (usually Japanese food) and surprise him with them so he wouldn't have to worry about dinner. We also did a similar sweater thing! We generally got to see one another every six to eight weeks, so instead I'd mail down one of my shirts and he could take a sniff whenever he wanted. He'd bring it back on one of his visits and then I'd send down another one. I always had one of his sweaters around. Love all these things you mentioned, but so glad I don't have to do them anymore! We got an apartment together in June and I couldn't be happier!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 17, 2014, 4:57 pm
      Your delivery meal ideas is SO great! I am sure he REALLY appreciated that. You should like a great couple :)
  • Kristi@runkwrun.blogspot.com November 18, 2014, 10:36 am
    Love this list. So true. Was In a long distance relationship for three years with a man from England. He just recently moved to texas two months ago. It has been awesome. Skype and whatsapp were are Saviors. On dates, watching a movie together via Skype (we watched iTunes in one window as we skyoed in the other window). But I hear Netflix would work just as great. Communicate is really key since your tone doesn't come across well through email. We got Ito many fights Bc he didn't think I was joking. Plus we had the cultural difference. So it's so important.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl November 22, 2014, 4:23 pm
      That is so awesome that he is living near you now!! It is great to hear about the successes :)

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