Here's How to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship

It won't be easy—but love is often worth it.
woman looking at phone while in bed
Photo: Yana Iskayeva | Getty Images
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
by
Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney - The Knot Contributor.
Dina Cheney
The Knot Contributor
  • Dina writes for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in food, travel and relationships.
  • With more than 20 years of experience in service journalism, she also pens articles and recipes for publications, such as Good Housekeeping, Parents, SELF, Health, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Prevention, Fine Cooking, Weight Watchers and Diabetic Living.
  • Dina graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University and The Institute of Cul...
Updated Jul 31, 2023

No matter if you've newly been separated for work or your long-term partnership is an updated version of Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail, you know that a long-distance relationship can be difficult to maintain. Heck, at times when you especially wish your partner was nearby, it may feel impossible to even survive! But rest assured that—although your physical separation will pose a challenge—your bond can still go the distance.

To help keep your long-distance relationship strong, we turned to a few dating and relationship experts. Below, you'll find all the skills and tips that, according to them, are key to making a long-distance relationship work.

Meet the Experts:

9 Long Distance Relationship Tips

"Maintaining a successful long-distance relationship can be challenging, but it's possible to make it work with some effort and dedication," reassures Minaa B.

1. First, define the separation

Many people engage in long-term long-distance relationships, and there's even a commitment structure called "never-meets," says Boodram. However, most couples will want to establish an endpoint to their time apart so the distance doesn't persist. If neither of you is sure about a timetable, consider checking in with each other every few months to see where you stand.

2. Schedule times to connect

Both of you should communicate how often you need to talk, says Dr. Judy. Then establish when you'll both be available and plan real-time chats. During these conversations, determine how you'll handle unexpected calls, such as FaceTimes from concerts. Also occasionally include friends and family members, recommends Boodram. "When we cut our partners off from our communities, they don't really get to know who we are," she explains.

3. Prioritize your relationship

You'd prioritize your time together if you were living in the same city—so why shouldn't it be similar in a long-distance relationship? Agree to put each other above your local obligations, recommends Boodram. Having this clarity will help you resist the allure of opportunities conflicting with your virtual dates, making one another feel supported and important.

4. Tell each other everything

"Communication is one of the most crucial elements of any relationship, and it's even more important in long-distance relationships," says Minaa B. Share what's going on with you: the good, the bad and the ugly. That means bringing up difficult aspects of your relationship and resolving conflicts. And don't avoid updating your partner because you feel your life is boring or they already know your routine.

5. See each other in person

As often as you can, meet up in real life to give you both something to look forward to. Take vacations together and alternate between visiting each other's cities. That way, you can get to know each other's friends and family, in addition to experiencing your romantic getaways.

6. Experience each other's everyday reality

Often, long-distance relationships don't get battle-tested because partners focus on making time together precious rather than realistic. Instead of living in a "suspended honeymoon" state, Boodram suggests exposing your partnership to your routines and challenges—such as stressful workdays or obligatory visits with testy relatives.

7. Get creative

Distance can make it challenging to keep relationships interesting, admits Minaa B, but it's important to find ways to maintain the spark. Send each other care packages, surprise each other with virtual dates or find other ways to express your love and appreciation. You can find unique ideas for virtual long-distance dates here.

8. Be realistic

According to Minaa B., one downfall of long-distance relationships, particularly those in different time zones, is being overly idealistic. Meaning, if you live 3,000 miles away from your partner, you most likely won't be able to see them every week. Be realistic with how much time both you and your partner can commit to maintaining the relationship, as well as any financial limitations around traveling to see each other. Being honest with one another about these realities early can help avoid disappointments and frustrations later on.

9. Trust each other

"Trust and jealousy issues can arise due to the distance, as it can be harder to gauge the other person's behaviors and intentions," explains Minaa B. Trust is especially important when you're not physically together, she adds.

To navigate this challenge, be honest and open and avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions.

The Best Apps for Long-Distance Couples

Isn't technology amazing? (Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks certainly were on-board!) From basic planning tools to apps for long-distance couples, here are the types of tech to use to feel closer to your sweetie.

Calendar App

With this type of tool, you and your partner will see each other's schedules, which will help you plan when to talk, says Boodram. Plus, you'll know when you shouldn't surprise each other with an unscheduled call.

Cupla

Ready to level up? Cupla takes care of the scheduling for you, as you can both upload your calendars and Cupla will find availability for regular quality time and virtual date nights. As a bonus, the app also offers advice and tools that'll help deepen your connection. Available here for iOS and Android.

Between

Between is another app specifically designed with couples in mind. With this mobile and desktop app, you and your love will be able to keep track of anniversaries, share all those cute, couple-y photos, text and chat and sync your calendars. You can even use it to make voice calls. Available here for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS.

Chat App

Establish a separate text conversation (for instance, on WhatsApp) and enable the "do not disturb" setting, suggests Boodram. This way, you can share thoughts and memes with each other without interrupting them. Then, whenever you each have time, you can check the thread.

Video Chat App

FaceTime is free and easy to use, making impromptu check-ins a breeze.

Up Next
  • Good Morning Texts For Him Ideas
    78 Sweet & Flirty Good Morning Texts for Him