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How to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship

Last modified: August 15, 2018 Avatar for Bethany SwansonBy Bethany Swanson
How to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship

 

When my husband William and I decided to start a long-distance relationship a few years ago, we felt both excited and unsure. We asked ourselves many questions, including, “How can we make long-distance work?”

You’re probably asking yourself the same question. You’ve met someone who you’re really attracted to, who you admire, who shares your similar interests and who you’d like to pursue a relationship with. The only problem is distance.

Be sure to read our Ultimate Guide to Long Distance Relationships

Is Long Distance Worth It?

From my personal experience, I can say without a doubt, “Yes, it’s worth it.” Although it’s difficult at times, being long-distance helped us build a strong foundation of communication and trust.

It showed each of us how committed we were and helped us to develop our relationship while getting to know each other better. If you’re seriously interested in getting to know the other person, don’t let the distance keep you apart.

So if you’re already in the thick of things, you might be wondering how you’ll survive the next few months before you can see your boyfriend/girlfriend. Here are a few tips for thriving in your own long-distance relationship:

Pray Together

Pray Together

Pray for each other, especially on the hard days. You can close each of your conversations with a prayer. You can spend the time apart strengthening your relationship with Christ.

Spend time in adoration, read the Bible, and pray the Rosary. Encourage each other to grow in holiness. The best way to love another person is to help them become the best version of themselves through prayer.

Express the Five Love Languages

Express the Five Love Languages

Gary Chapman’s five love languages give a great framework for expressing your care and appreciation for your partner. I share practical ideas to express the five love languages in my post on How to Express the Five Love Languages in a Long-Distance Relationship. Expressing each of the five love languages during a long-distance relationship will keep your partners “love tank” full.

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

Take Time to Plan Your Visits

Take Time to Plan Your Visits

Don’t let your relationship solely rely on video-chat or phone calls and trips to see each other. Looking forward to seeing each other makes the time apart more bearable. When you’re in-person, you’ll realize how much of a gift it’s to see them and enjoy their company.

You’ll also learn things about them that you cannot learn online. For example, when I was dating my future husband, I didn’t know how he handled stress until our car battery died on the way to the airport. I was impressed by how calmly he handled the situation and how we worked together to solve it. If we hadn’t been in-person, I wouldn’t have known this about him.

Get to Know Other Long-Distance Couples

Get to Know Other Long-Distance Couples

Your relationship will look very different from the in-person couples you see around you. Find other couples who share the challenge with you and who will understand what you’re going through. It helps seeing how other couples approach different situations to make their relationship work.

Incorporate Your Families

Incorporate Your Families

When you video-chat with your partner, also include your families from time to time. Let them get to know the person you’re dating, so when you see each other in person it won’t be as daunting to meet your family.

Your family and friends can be your support system when the other person isn’t there. They will be the ones to remind you what you saw in the other person when things are going rough.

Make sure Long-Distance Isn’t Permanent

Long-Distance Isn't Permanent

To survive, every long-distance relationship must eventually become an in-person relationship. You want to have some hope that you’ll be together at some point, and that hope will help the relationship to keep going even when things are difficult.

If you aren’t willing to move and your partner isn’t either, please consider if this is the right relationship for you.

Be Intentional

Be Intentional

Being in a long-distance relationship might mean having a regularly scheduled time to video-chat and having special date nights. When my aunt was in a long distance relationship before video chat existed, they would write letters to each other every day to stay in contact.

If military deployment, work schedules, or other circumstances leave you less in control, just do the best that you can with what you have. Even if you can’t talk every day or write often, you can still make an effort to show your partner you care.

Finding Out What Works for Your Relationship

As you grow in your long-distance relationship, you will figure out the level of communication that works for you. Just like any other relationship, you’ll have to make time for the other person. Hopefully, if things are going well, you’ll really want to.

With the right attitude and tools, a long-distance relationship can be a positive and love-filled experience for the both of you.

Avatar for Bethany Swanson

Bethany Swanson studied Humanities and Catholic Culture at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She’s originally from Oregon and is now enjoying the beaches and warm weather of California with her husband William. She shares her reflections on newlywed life and the faith on her blog at http://www.strengthenmyheart.com/

    Joyce Grace
    23 Aug 2017
    9:12am

    How do you know if the person is sincere? Some singles just want a change or to get away from something. I liked the suggestion that couples should share with family. It might be good if they go to church together when they visit if they are not meeting in the middle.

      Bethany Swanson
      23 Aug 2017
      12:58pm

      Joyce, that’s such a good question! I think taking the time to get to know the other person is very important. Especially, when starting off online there’s no need to rush things. Getting to know the other person, as well as possible, before committing to a relationship is a good start and gives time to build a foundation of friendship.

      While we were discerning whether or not to date and early on in the relationship I felt like I was essentially interviewing my husband. He did ask my father’s permission to date me and that was just one of the many ways in which I knew he was sincere. Through all our interactions I knew he respected me and my family, was serious about discerning marriage, and that he was someone I could see being part of my future.

      I like the suggestion to go to church together. I think it’s important that couples (even in-person ones) don’t become too isolated. Family and friends can notice things that might be red flags and help check the sincerity level. One of our relatives did actually ask my husband before he moved, “are you running away from something or towards something?” His answer was towards something i.e. his vocation. That helped clarify that he was doing the right thing moving. But, it does sometimes take having someone or one of the people in the relationship asking the tough questions to see things clearly.

      With the time and energy that a long-distance relationship takes I think that also helps clarify if someone is in the relationship for the right reasons or not because it does take extra effort.

      Volleyballjerry
      22 Sep 2017
      9:14am

      You cannot. Someone I met at Ave Maria whom I later married after a two year courtship I discovered was having an affair with her best friend’s husband while said friend was pregnant with their third child. All while we attended Mass and prayed the Rosary together and celebrated the sacraments together every other weekend when I drove 600 miles to see her.

      The woman confronted her three separate times to get her to stop and she refused.

      I did not discover any of this until she confessed to me and two of her friends confirmed it when I asked them. Had we been in the same city, I would have been able to figure out what was going on and never would have gotten married. Now we have two children together, sleep on separate floors and I frankly am stuck.

    Volleyballjerry
    22 Sep 2017
    8:44am

    I will not participate in a long distance relationship again under any conditions whatsoever. Been there more than once. My faith journey will be with someone that can share my faith locally and if I cannot locate someone decent in a pool of 20,000 candidates within 100 miles of where I live, then so be it.

    There is zero spiritual purpose or benefit to add the complications of long distance to the already arduous task of building a life together with someone.

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