LDRs aren't fun, but with tips like these, they're doable.
Even though long-distance relationships can be tricky, they’re not inherently doomed.
“Long-distance relationships [can be] healthy and stable, just like relationships in which partners live in close proximity,” Dana Weiser, Ph.D., associate professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University, tells SELF. “The relationship type just poses different challenges and possesses different strengths.”
Try these 10 strategies to clear the LDR hurdles and keep your love alive.
1. Visit the app store.
There are plenty of apps that can help you feel emotionally close, no matter how far away you are.
Couple, a free app available on iOS and Android, allows you to create your own social network so the two of you can post updates about your day. You can even share an in-the-moment “thumb kiss” when you both touch your phone in the same place.
Those three just scratch the surface!
2. Resist the urge to hole up together during visits.
It’s so tempting to spend your visits with only each other, but carve out some time to hang out with other people, too.
“Having shared social networks strengthens a couple’s commitment,” says Weiser. Make it a priority to tear yourselves away from the bedroom and go out for drinks with the crew next time they’re in town.
Of course, those weekends where it’s only the two of you are necessary, too.
3. Give your sex life a digital upgrade.
You can kick things up a notch thanks to gadgets designed with long-distance love affairs in mind, like the Izivibe—an iPhone case that doubles as a vibrator your partner can control remotely—or Kiiro, which makes sex toys that can be used in tandem remotely.
And don’t fall into a rut of only being sexual when your partner’s around. “Having a relationship with your own sexuality and masturbating more [can] be important, too,” Ian Kerner, Ph.D., LMFT, author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, tells SELF.
4. Plan a good surprise.
“Unexpected gestures like sending flowers and gifts or making surprise visits go a long way towards assuring one’s partner of the love and commitment necessary to maintain any relationship, but particularly an LDR,” Franklin Porter, Ph.D, a therapist in New York City, tells SELF.
Sesame, free on iOS and Android, makes it super simple to send a care package to your sweetie, or you could use Touchnote to send a personalized postcard right from your phone to anywhere in the world.
5. Text with care.
The ability to text at any time of day is clearly huge for couples tackling distance. But choose your text conversations carefully.
“Text communication, especially in the prolonged absence of a partner, can be fraught with misunderstandings,” says Porter. “It should be avoided when discussing any issues that may arise.” If you have something serious to talk about, pick up the phone.
6. Offer them your undivided attention when you interact.
“There’s plenty to distract us from good listening, such as the temptation to check email or scan social media while on the phone,” Andy Merolla, Ph.D., associate professor at Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio, tells SELF. “These seemingly small distractions can become significant over time, because they make conversations less enjoyable.”
When you’re missing your partner, a lackluster phone call can feel worse than no call at all.
7. Create a shared routine.
If time zones permit, commit to watching the new season of Game of Thrones together every week. You can even Skype during the episode so it feels like you’re actually watching in the same room. If timing throws a major wrench into things, start a long-distance book club, cook the same recipe for dinner, or listen to the same podcast on your commute.
“These shared experiences can provide topics to talk about other than just daily recaps of each other’s days,” says Merolla.
8. Jump on the phone sex bandwagon.
There’s the obvious reason: it’s hot. But there’s also a deeper, more compelling one to give it a try: when all you have is your voice, you have to speak up about what you’re into. All that honest communication can your sex life a world of good, says Weiser.
9. Set clear expectations and boundaries.
This is important in any relationship, but it becomes especially crucial when you throw distance into the equation. There’s a fine line between wanting to be looped in on your lover’s life and being controlling.
“If a partner is setting rules that inhibit your social life, then that is an unreasonable and troubling request,” says Weiser. Make sure you’re both on the same page about what’s OK and what isn’t, and if anything makes you uncomfortable, speak up.
10. Appreciate the little things.
Sometimes all you want is to hold your partner’s hand. Forget sex, you’d kill for a good hug. “Since you do not have everyday access to your partner, when you are able to be intimate, the physical activities can take on a different level of excitement,” says Weiser.
One way to ensure you don’t forget small moments of sweetness is by writing them down after a visit ends. Until you two move to the same city, you’ll have a physical list of why the relationship is so worth it.
This article was originally published at Self. Reprinted with permission from the author.