How to keep a relationship working over long distance

Learning how to make a long distance relationship work can be hard. While modern technology has made it easier than ever to stay in contact with the ones we love, human relationships often rely on regular, physical proximity and contact. 

Despite that, love over a long distance is becoming more common. About three million Americans live apart from their spouse at some point in their marriage, and 75% of college students have engaged in a long-distance relationship.

Whether you and your loved one are apart because of finances, family, health or work, there are ways to keep the relationship working and strengthen your emotional connection even when geography isn’t on your side.

Here’s how you can help your relationship go the distance.

Read more: 11 must-have apps for long-distance couples

Create A Shared Endgame

Long distance is easier when you and your partner both know the reasons for the separation and, perhaps more importantly, have a shared expectation on when you’ll be back together physically.

This comes back to the core of every successful relationship: communication. Honest and open discussions, even hard ones, are far more effective than assumptions and guessing at what your partner wants. Set some time aside explicitly to talk about why you’re long distance at the moment, whether that’s still working for you, and set a meaningful deadline.

Then keep having that conversation! Priorities and plans change and without the ability to just casually check in with your partner while you’re sitting on the sofa, it’s important to have specific scheduled time to talk about important factors like your shared endgame. 

You might be apart for work, for financial reasons, for family situations, or any of the other dozens of “whys” that people go long distance, even temporarily. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be back together eventually, and it’s important to remind yourselves of that – especially on the tough days.

Don’t Stop Sharing Your Day-To-Day

Technology has made it so you can share your day-to-day life with your partner, any time, anywhere. Texts, photos, FaceTime – they’ve replaced handwritten letters and phone calls. Instant and constant communication (wifi permitting) makes it possible to keep sharing even the smallest parts of your day with your partner.

Over long distances, that minutiae is more important than you might think. By sharing these details, you’re making sure your partner feels involved even when they’re far away. 

So make videos, take selfies, send long and detailed messages to one another. It can make a huge difference to the success of your long-distance relationship and ensure that you both retain a connection to each other’s day-to-day.

Bonus tip: Pay special attention to what your partner is getting up to and see if you can find a way to engage with it even over long distance. If they’re reading a book, you can try reading it too (or suggest one to read together). If they’re listening to a particular playlist, hook in your headphones and chat about it. 

This is great advice for relationships in general, but over long distance, it’s an especially effective way to weave your lives and interests together even when you’re apart.

Keep Having Date Nights

Even if you’re not in the same physical space as your partner, you can still have fun together. 

Take a classic date night idea: dinner and a movie. It’s absolutely possible to have that experience over long distance too. Pick a movie on Netflix, sync it up with a program like Teleparty, order food from a chain restaurant that you’re both close to and boom! There’s a shared experience and a great date night idea even when you’re out of touching distance.

Not a fan of streaming? Try a Zoom or Skype call date armed with a couples’ conversation deck. These deep questions are both entertaining and enlightening, forging a close connection even when there’s miles between you.

Don’t Just Find Time, Make Time

This is a big one! Making the effort to create time to spend together is important for any relationship. It’s why Quality Time is one of the major Love Languages. But over long distance, it can feel even harder to actually find time that works for both of you.

The simple solution? Don’t find time, make time.

Both you and your partner must be intentional about responding to each other’s attempts to connect. Those scheduled late night chats that you have before bed become even more important, and being left on read can be hard to swallow when that’s one of the only ways you and your partner get to connect over long distance.

So be deliberate. 

  • If your partner has an important day or event coming up, make a note (literally put it in a calendar) and ask them how it went. 
  • If they expressed excitement or concern about something in particular, make a note (this will be a recurring theme) and bring it up later. 
  • If you’ve said you’re going to have a date night, make a (you guessed it!) note and stick to it. 

It’s how you show your partner that you’re there for them, no matter how far away they may be.

Make Plans For The Grand Return

Planning your time together can be almost as fun as actually experiencing it. Over long distance, that anticipation counts for a lot! 

We’ve long been proponents of planning your next batch of date night ideas well ahead of time, and the same applies for when you and/or your partner comes back to you. Discuss what you’ll do when you see each other and make real, concrete plans, with dates and times and activities all ready to go.

Not only does this make sure that you spend less time planning and more time being present with each other when you are back together, but it’s also a great way to feel out your partner on what they’d genuinely enjoy doing. Some people like to go back to the restaurants they’ve missed and that one minigolf course where you had that fabulous date once. Other people want to try all new things so that the experience is new for you both. And still more people like to do a bit of both!

Make and keep to plans for when you’re back together, and you’ll keep a spark of excitement glowing no matter how far away you are.

Date nights don’t have to disappear just because there’s some distance between you and your partner. With a little creativity – and using the tips presented here – it’s possible to have a fantastic shared experience even over long distance. Take the trouble out of finding a time that works for both you and your partner with Cupla, the shared calendar app designed explicitly and exclusively for couples.

Simply download the app, add your calendars, and Cupla will automatically find ideal date night times that fit both you and your partner’s schedule. With built-in goals, reminders and shared to-do lists, you can spend less time finding a slot and more time enjoying each other’s company.Trial Cupla now for free on iOS or Android.

Download Cupla

Meet the app for couples – revolutionizing how busy couples connect.Share calendars, manage to-do’s & reminders – plan life together.

App Store reviews

What to read next