Long distance relationships can be intimidating. Your family members and friends may discourage you from trying long-distance love, encouraging you to protect your heart. Others may tell you not to take your new relationship seriously, since you aren’t going to your significant other very much.
While long distance relationships aren’t easy, they definitely are possible. You may combat loneliness and communication issues, but it’s possible to thrive in a long distance relationship. Not only that, but new research reveals that long distance relationships can even be healthier than dating someone who lives close to you. Here are seven things you can do to keep your long distance relationship going strong:
Be sure to read: Our Definitive Guide to Long Distance Relationships
1. Read a book together
Acclaimed author Stephen King once said that “books are a uniquely portable magic.” Fiction books offer chances for shared adventures and time to explore a new world together. Reading non-fiction books together give you an opportunity to learn something new as a couple. You can read one of your partner’s favorite books and get to know them a bit better, too! Pick a book together and have a miniature book club with just the two of you.
When Joseph and I were dating, we read the same book, even though miles separated us. When we’d see each other or talk to each other over the phone, our shared book knowledge gave us plenty of good conversation topics. Now, even though we’re married, Joseph and I still foster a love of reading together. Just last night before heading to bed, we read a chapter of a brand new book together.
2. Cook the same dinner (even when you’re apart!)
“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly,” M.F.K. Fisher once said. Even though your partner may not be in town for a dinner date, that doesn’t stop you from sharing food with each other! Plan an evening when you can cook the same dinner, even if you live in different cities. You’ll be able to bond over the experience of cooking (and eating!) the same thing.
Meal subscription services also make it possible to be on the same meal plan without much planning! Cooking is a great way to introduce your partner to your interests, loves, and culture. Did your grandmother make the best meatballs? Send your partner the recipe and cook them together. Give each other a call while you’re doing meal prep and chat about who taught you how to cook. Then turn on a video call during dinner and enjoy dinner together!
3. Send each other snail mail
As adults, most of the time the only mail waiting for us in our mailboxes is bills. Maybe once in a while you’ll get a good magazine or coupon, but it’s mostly bills. Show your love that you care by sending them some old-fashioned snail mail!
Do you live in different cities? Pick up a few postcards from a local tourist spot in your city and mail them to your partner. But don’t stop there! Hand-written love letters from my long-distance relationship with my now-husband are pieces of mail I treasure even today. Send each other flowers on your anniversaries, holidays, or birthdays. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of today’s technology and send each other gifts after shopping online. You can even send their favorite food to them on a day you know they’ll be busy, or their favorite snack as a pick-me-up after a long day.
4. Share the weather
It may seem like the most cliche, overused small talk topic, but the weather affects our daily lives. Knowing what the weather is like where your partner lives is an insight into their daily lives. Plug their address into your smartphone weather app so you can know what their day is like. You can even use an app like Between, which keeps you updated on the weather and the time for wherever your partner is. This can come in handy if you’re in a relationship that crosses different time zones!
5. Watch the same movies or television shows together
According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, watching a television show with someone creates a strong bond in your relationship. In fact, the study found that romantic partners who don’t share the same group of friends (like most couples who are long-distance!) can replace that form of bonding by sharing a television show and other media with each other. Television shows and movies that you watch together give you a chance to share a a world with someone.
This study is important because it emphasizes the importance of mutual friends. Researchers refer to mutual friends as “key components” of a relationship. So while sharing a television show together is a great place to start, make sure to also introduce your significant other to your friends when they’re in town, too.
6. Find a good way to communicate
There are countless ways to communicate with your significant other. You could call each other or send each other letters. They may prefer to send you an e-mail versus a text. Maybe you have a particular way you communicate throughout the day on an app you both prefer
Regardless of what communication route you take, decide together what works best for both of you. Do you have a phone plan with limited minutes? Try looking for an app that make calls free when you have internet connection. Does your partner hate texting? Schedule time for regular phone calls that work for both of your schedules. Being intentional with your communication will strengthen your relationship.
7. Schedule visits
While you can get to know each other through phone-calls, text messages, letters, and video chats, nothing beats time spent face-to-face with your lover. Make sure to take time to schedule your visits to each other in advance. Knowing that you only have a few months, weeks, or days until you see each other again can be great motivation on those days where you’re feeling lonely.