14 Tips for a Long-Distance Relationship

If the relationship matters, the distance doesn't. Here are some helpful tips to grow as couple, even when you're far apart.

Our entire relationship has been an all or nothing. Meaning we were either living very close together (in the Land Rover) or very far apart (on different continents) for months on end.  We have always faced Visa challenges, so when the 2020 lockdowns hit we were grateful to have been locked in Botswana together- but that is for another story.  A long-distance relationship may not be ideal, but it can continue to grow even when far apart.

Our first journey together- Hartman’s Valley, Namibia

This past years’ unforeseen border closures and unpredictable travel procedures have added additional strain not only to international couples, but families as well.  How do you keep the relationship thriving when you cannot be there in person?  

Here are 14 tips that helped our relationship evolve in our far away times.

It’s All About Communication.  

In ANY relationship communication is key.  PERIOD.  A healthy relationship whether it is with family, friends, co-workers, or lovers requires a free flow of communication on both sides.  Never assume that your partner knows what you are thinking or feeling. 

long-distance relationship tip 1:  All about communication
Uwe having a deep chat with one of the stone men in Northern Namibia

We sometimes struggle with communication because of language barriers.  Although English is our relationship language, it has become more and more of a necessity to learn his language, so he can thoroughly express himself in his native tongue.    

Practice Active Listening.

If your relationship has transitioned to phone, facetime, and messaging the art of listening has become exponentially more important.  Active listening requires concentrating on what is being said, not passively hearing. Understanding the message should transcend what you plan to say next.  

Have you had someone call and say, “Hey! How are you?” and before you have a nanosecond to respond, they launch into their own story then hit you with “okay, bye!”  It’s a verbal blast and you’re left feeling accosted and snubbed. 

tip 2:  Active listening
A verbal assault in Barcelona

Stay Independent.  

You survived and thrived before you found your person.  Having a strong sense of self and each of you bringing that independence to the table will ensure that both of you will continue to grow while apart.  Practicing self-care allows you to give more of yourself to your relationship. Don’t just sit around missing your “other half” get out and live your life and be excited to share it with them.

When I returned Stateside my goal was to spend time with my people and save some money.  Without having to morph my schedule to my partners I was able to do the things I wanted and needed to do, and he did as well.  

Me and my girl, Sarah after catching some waves

Encourage Each Other.  

Whether it is to socialize, to stay active, to reach career goals, or to continue to explore, it is important to support each other.  Celebrate each other’s accomplishments even if you aren’t physically there for them.  Continuing to inspire each other to do great things will keep the energy and outlook on life positive.

Feeling accomplished after my first long multi-pitch trad route!

Be Authentic.  

Everyone has good days and bad days, but the most important is to be true to you each day. If you have a great experience, be proud to share it.  If you are feeling lonely and missing your person – let them know.  If you want to wallow and watch Bridget Jone’s Diary and opt out of the phone date, that’s okay too.  Feeling secure as the person you are is what attracted your partner in the first place.

Being authentically grumpy

Decide on Setting “Dates.”

 We found that setting a specific date and time to chat seemed unreasonable.  There was no expectation to speak at a certain time unless it was explicitly stated that we need to sort something out together.

While he was in South Africa, I was in Asia.  When he was in Austria, I was in the U.S.  A six-hour difference was our sweet spot, and we ran on those hours. 

Up at 6am, lunch at noon, dinner at 6pm, bed at midnight.  When we both ran on these schedules independently having a quick “good morning…” chat was an easy way for us to stay involved in the day without intruding on each other’s schedule. 

Know Each Other’s Routines.

This is a great way to have non-invasive communication.  If your partner works from 8-5pm in a place where personal communication is frowned upon, don’t blow up their phone demanding a reply.  Or if you run everyday at 4pm, keep that personal time. 

Uwe hard at work

Facetime.  

The standard skype ring will forever be linked with giddiness and anticipation of seeing my man’s face.  There are plenty of apps to stay connected, use them.  My 30 Favorite Travel Apps.

Share Something Physical. 

Not what you are thinking ?, something tangible.  If there is an object like a scrubby t-shirt, a photo, even a rock from a special place you visited together, holding that object can foster the memories of being together. 

When I left for India, I printed out photos and wrote notes and memories on the back.  A year later, I left him again with additions to the collection.  I took our collection of porcupine quills as a reminder from our hikes.     

Our home in Linz

Bridge the Gap While Doing Things Together.  

I would set up my phone or laptop in the kitchen and we’d chat while I cooked. We had our screens set up next to one another and have a meal together or we would do exercise together. 2020 brought friends and families together with cocktail hours, book clubs, and birthday parties with an RSVP Zoom.  Don’t always feel pressured to sit in front of the computer and have a conversation, do something together.

Crosswalk in Vienna, Austria

Mutual Respect, Honesty, and Trust.  

If this is not there, a long-distance relationship will never work.  Respect your partner by being honest with them.  Trust them and earn their trust in return.  Each relationship is different, communicating your expectations with each other openly will set the tone for how you want to endure being apart.

Have a Shared Endgame.

What do you want out of your relationship?  Plan to see each other again and consciously work towards that goal together.  Talking about the future can be both exciting and daunting especially if it involves relocating.  Collaborating and making life decisions together is an excellent way to appreciate what you have and the future you want together.

sharing an end game.  Marraige came first then we still had to spend almost 2 years getting a visa.
Our End Game- stuck together.

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