have been in three long-distance relationships. Two of them were full-blown international love affairs. The only commonality was the miles between us. Oh, and my affinity for accents. Classic, American.
It turns out I am not alone in looking for love outside my own backyard. Did you know 14 million US couples are in a long-distance relationship? If that’s you, I feel for you, boo.
While I’m not a love guru, I interviewed over 40 therapists and relationship experts about how to bridge the distance. Everyone mentioned the importance of planning something to look forward to. Below are a few of their other helpful suggestions:
1. Write love notes. Relationship expert Nicole Moore suggests telling your partner what you love about them before going to sleep. Not only will you go to bed feeling connected, but your partner will wake up feeling loved. She mentions to not spare any details. According to Nicole, “details are what bring couples closer together and make you feel like you really know someone.” You can read more of her tips on Instagram.
2. Integrate them into your day. Dr. Christie Kederian, an LMFT and relationship expert, encourages LDR couples to integrate one other into their day. She suggests sending videos of you getting ready in the morning or a voice note of a funny story. While this may seem insignificant, Dr. Kederian shares “the little moments bring trust and connectedness and bridge the gap.” If this resonates with you, you can read more of her tips on Instagram.
3. Plan for presence. Raffi Bilek, a couples counselor and director of the BaltimoreTherapy Center, suggests spending time on video chat without having to be in conversation. One way to do this is to set up your phone or tablet in the kitchen and cook your own dinners together, eat together and clean up together. According to Raffi, “feeling like you’re living some of the mundane parts of your life together can help keep the relationship feeling connected.” The important thing is to be in each other’s “presence.”
4. Prioritize fun. Don’t just do fun things with your partner while you’re in person. Molly, who has been in several LDRs, suggests finding a fun activity to do while apart. Molly and her girlfriend watch 90 day Fiancé together and comment on it: the same way they would in person.
5. Dinner Dates. Nate and Lolo, a seasoned LDR couple and the creators of Lasting the Distance mentioned how they never let the distance get in the way of sharing a meal together. They sit down on Skype or Facetime and eat together like it was date night. To make them feel more connected, they order similar food or cook together. Sometimes to spice things up they order each other food without knowing what it is!
6. Send surprises. Rori Sassoon, co-owner of matchmaking agency Platinum Poire and a relationship coach suggests taking turns surprising each other! According to Rori, they don’t have to be big surprises. In fact, it could be as simple as ordering lunch. The point is, learning what your partner loves and showing them through a simple surprise will keep the excitement alive!
7. Daily video chats. Having daily video chats is imperative to stay connected. Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a Marriage Counselor in Boulder, CO, suggests preparing for the call by reflecting on your highs and lows. Having quality information to share promotes emotional intimacy.
8. Find simple ways to connect. Amanda, an LPC with Neurofeedback & Counseling Center in Harrisburg, PA, shares how simple gestures can let your partner know you are thinking of them. This could be a mailed letter, the arrival of a gift or a random phone call or text.
9. Exercise together. With gyms shut down around the world we’re all forced to work out at home. Kayla Broek, a Dating and Relationship Expert at Beyond Ages, recommends going for a run together while still on the phone or video chatting while you try different bodyweight exercises.
10. Have a plan. Nearly every therapist suggested having a plan for how often you will talk and meet. To keep the spark alive, prioritize quality time together.
Do you have any other ideas about how to stay connected while apart? Feel free to share them in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.
If you are in a long-distance relationship, we feel for you. In fact, we created KOYA just for you! It’s free to download and use.