By Shelley Bushman
It’s no secret that long-distance dating can be the pits, but it’s also an opportunity for learning and growth as a couple! Also, when you’re open to dating long distance, you can increase your search range in your Mutual App settings, and open yourself up to more people than those in your immediate area.
Check out these tips we gathered from some long-distance daters:
1. Find a way to meet in person.
This first one is obvious: if possible, reduce the distance! Spending face-to-face time with a significant other is the best way for any relationship to progress. Vincent and Lydia met on Mutual and have dated for 10 months. Although they technically live in the same state, spending time together requires significant planning and road trip snacks. Nevertheless, working the necessary logistics is worth it to spend time together.
Even if couples can’t see each other as often as they might like, having clear plans as to when they’ll be together again can buoy spirits. Sara and her now-husband were long-distance for a total of 18 months before tying the knot. Even though they lived around 2 hours away from each other, always having their next visit scheduled gave them something to look forward to amid the distance, no matter how much time passed in-between.
If time, money, or distance restrict opportunities to visit, technology can be a lifesaver for those in long-distance relationships. Phone calls, texting, and various social media channels help couples keep in contact. FaceTime is obviously a favorite: it’s like being in the same room!
2. Make sure you’re both all-in!
Successfully building and maintaining a relationship from separate corners of the world is hard, but it can be done if both parties are committed to the effort needed to help it thrive. When Addy from Kansas matched on Mutual with Gavin from the East Coast last Summer, she was skeptical of their ability to make a relationship work. Now, 6 months later, they find ways to meet up for every 2-3 weekends in cities between their hometowns. “You have to decide it’s worth it early on in a long-distance relationship,” Addy said. “It’s a big investment of your time and money.”
3. Establish expectations about communication
There isn’t an end-all right or wrong answer, but it’s imperative that both people are on the same page regarding how and how often a couple will communicate. Some couples like to schedule weekly virtual “dates” via FaceTime. Some keep a conversation going over text or snapchat. Some call occasionally or daily before bed. When you’re on different schedules in different timezones, relationships will never be exactly the same. But if people are open about what kind of contact they need, nobody will feel left in the dark or ghosted.
Emma and Mike went long-distance while he went from Utah to Florida for a summer sales position. They communicated and were able to edit their communication expectations as the Summer progressed. “At first we called or texted daily but he said he was in a demanding job and couldn’t keep up with it all and asked if we could call once a week so he wasn’t so distracted.” The changed system worked well for the Summer until they were back together.
4. Have a life outside of your relationship
Putting forth the effort to maintain a solid relationship while apart is a lot of work, but it’s also important to maintain your life where you are. Staying involved in projects you’re passionate about helps you grow as a person and not miss your significant other as much.
Jourdan, who has been in multiple long-distance relationships, advises to not make the person that you’re dating your “whole world,” and that maintaining your own social life and hobbies outside of them is important.
“While I loved the person I was dating, there was a stark difference between my first long-distance relationship and my last one. My first one, I stayed home to be able to talk to them EVERY NIGHT. I didn’t go out. I didn’t have friends, I felt so lonely all the time. The last long-distance relationship I had, I went out and did things and I wasn’t ‘tied down’ at home unless we had a FaceTime date. The difference in each one was my mindset. I grew as a person and a girlfriend in those times.”
5. Be open
It’s incredibly important to be conscious of being open when long-distance. Professionals repeatedly say that over half of communication is non-verbal, and you lose that communication (body language, eye contact, inflection, etc.) when communicating at a distance. This goes both ways: it’s easy to stress about/read into texts sent from a significant other, especially if you don’t see them often in person. Also, if you have concerns, your partner won’t be able to use your non-verbal communication to pick up that there’s an issue.
Audrey had a long-distance stint after dating for over a year, and she stressed the importance of being open and vocal about how you’re feeling.
“Be honest about how you are feeling! If you are bothered by something and not addressing it, it feels multiplied when you’re long distance. I remember hearing some advice once about how you better have your issues sorted out before you do long distance because that’s when all the yucky stuff comes up to the surface.”
Being proactive about addressing issues when they happen instead of waiting until you’re in person again can help prevent a lot of long-term problems.
6. Take advantage of long-distance perks
This may seem counterintuitive, but there’s actually big potential silver linings in long-distance dating that can help strengthen a relationship long-term. There’s potential for sharing love in creative ways, such as sending letters or little gifts. Addy and Gavin like to play battleship on their iPhones.
There’s also potential for maturing your relationship in a unique way. Tate met his fiancé on Mutual while she was living in Ecuador and he in the States. He noted that while “love can grow with physical touch, real love comes from feeling your love grow just by knowing the person more each day.” Constructively setting goals to grow during a long-distance stint can turn a potentially negative situation into a positive.
7. Know that anything is possible with hard work
Everything worth having is hard work, and it’s no different with any relationship, including long-distance. In the words of Kristin, who has to be long-distance with her boyfriend 8 months out of the year, “if you truly want something, anything is possible. Distance is about endurance, trust, and honesty. Be willing to give and take; understanding and communication is key.”
Embarking on any new relationship can be nerve-wracking, but long-distance needn’t be a major deterrent. With some planning, communication, and intentionality, long distance relationships can be a blessing in disguise.