C and I are no strangers to a long-distance relationship and we've found a few ways to make long-distance work while I'm in Perth and he is in Sydney.
We met in Sydney a few years ago when I was living there inbetween degrees (fun fact: I tried to get a PhD position in that city to no avail... the Universe works in mysterious ways). After moving across the country to start my degree, I moved back to Sydney during the pandemic to have a support system to rely on in case I got sick. We were lucky that during that time we got to live together but damn does the time now apart suck even more because I know how awesome it is to share a home with him.
So, do long distance relationships work? They do! But, it's really hard and first and foremost you will need to accept that it will not be easy. So here are ten tips that have helped us to make the distance seem not as trying...
There are four big challenges for those in long distance relationships:
Here are how we tackle them --
Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
Think of it kind of as a contract: what can fly and sink in your relationship. Are you completely monogamous or monogam-ish? Are you okay talking once a week or several times a day? Do you need to video chat every few days? What is the frequency you want to see one another?
Basically you need to set out the ground rules of your relationship to see what makes everyone comfortable and happy going forward. And here's an easy rule: stay out of situations that might make your partner feel uncomfortable or threatened — within reason. I'm not saying you need to "check in" or get approval for what you do, but set clear boundaries that work for the both of you.
And don't forget... flexibility is key (in some cases)!
TECHNOLOGY IS GOING TO BE YOUR BFF
Thanks to technology, you can now share the "boring" little parts of your life in real time, instantaneously, so that the gaping distance between you and your loved one doesn't feel so big. Long are the days of letters (though those are cute and can add a little spice), and instead now there is text messaging, video calls, sending pictures, leaving voice notes, and playing games. Use it to your advantage and stay connected!
BUT Don't rely solely on technology
That being said, nothing beats real-time contact with your partner. I'm not talking about physically spending time with them (though that is obviously important, see further down this list), but having something physical that reminds you of your beau. After my visits I usually steal one or two of C's shirts (and a hoodie cause the plane gets cold) that still smells like him as a little token of our relationship. He gave me a Forever Rose (it's pink and the petal edges are dipped in gold) for Valentine's Day that I have displayed on my desk, and above my desk is our names in Chinese that he personally wrote out while he was on a trip there. I have clothes in the closet at our apartment back in Sydney, he's got my perfume bottle and so many stuffies on the bed, and I leave notes all over the house for him to (eventually) find. There is a lot of joy in having something tangible from your partner!
Do Stuff Together Even Though You’re Apart
Just because you aren’t physically in the same place doesn’t mean you can't do some fun stuff together! Mondays are C and I's "movie night" where we play the same movie on Netflix, STAN, or Disney+ and either are on video call while watching it so we can make comments or we are texting. I was in quarantine during the 2020 Olympics (Tokyo... the ones that happened in 2021) and my hotel didn't have a channel for me to watch my fave event so C just Facetimed me, set me on the table pointed at the TV, and we watched together. We've also played online games before, made the same dinner at the same time and eaten it together, and so much more. Have fun with it!
Focus on quality communication
So there is some research that shows long-distance couples may be more satisfied with their communication skills than those who are closer! Probably because they don't have time to mince words and get straight to the point - nothing wrong with being clear and concise. And with a lack of physical touch or facial expressions, sometimes you need to be very deliberate in what you are saying.
DON’T COMPARE YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO ANYONE ELSE’S
This applies to all relationships, but especially long distance relationships. Not gonna lie, it sucks seeing couples spending their every day together, moving in together, holding hands down the street while you're without your person. (I'm especially salty after saying goodbye to C and knowing it's gonna be a few MONTHS without seeing each other) But there are perks to being in an LDR, such as pursuing whatever hobbies/activities you want in the meantime. Plus...
Don't put your life on hold
LDR's require a bit of sacrifice, but that doesn't mean you should pump the brakes on your life! I still live fully while apart from C, making the most of exploring Perth with my friends over there so I can bring him along to cool places I discover when he comes to visit. Don't isolate yourself and get out there and LIVE.
Let yourself trust — and earn that trust yourself
This one was the hardest for me, especially since my last partner cheated on me multiple times while we were living together (which led to MAJOR trust issues). The work to build — and keep — trust goes both ways, with your earning it being every bit as important as having it in your partner. Think back on your relationship and ask yourself how you both are working towards a trusting relationship (some questions to ask: Do they stick to the plans you two have made? Do they remember what's important to you? Do they really listen to you?).
HAVE A REUNIFICATION PLAN
One thing that helps make the distance a bit more bearable: having a plan for when you’ll next see each other again. Usually by the time I head to the airport at the end of another trip with C we know when we are going to see each other next (sometimes it has been a few months... other times just a few days). Of course you want to be flexible (especially in the middle of an ever-evolving pandemic), but knowing ahead of time truly helps and gives you something to look forward to! We usually have countdowns, LOL.
SET AN END DATE
While long-distance love can be a great thing for a finite time, one eventually wants to be in the same zipcode as their partner. It really helps knowing when that is - you don't need an exact date, just a ballpark. For example, for C and I that is after I finish my PhD (so like, 2022/2023).
HAVE YOU BEEN IN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP before? Are you in one now? WHAT ARE SOME TIPS THAT HELPED?
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Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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