If you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, you know the struggle can be very real. You miss them. Texting, calling, FaceTiming, sending handwritten letters like lovers during wartime… sometimes you just want that IRL feeling! But long distance relationships don’t have to suck, right??
Correct! Good job! A+ for you!
The good news is that a 2014 study backed up the fact that long distance relationships don’t have to suck—depending on the circumstances. The couples that took care of their own mental health, planned visits, had a clear vision of their future, and stayed positive had healthy long distance relationships. If there’s love, effort, and emotional honesty, you can have a long distance relationship that lasts!
That’s not to say that there’s no challenge. Surviving long distance relationships can be tough af. We want you to make it work while also taking care of your mental health. Here’s our list of mental health tips for a long distance relationship!
1. Schedule Time Together
When weighing the pros and cons of a long distance relationship, finding time to be together that works for both of you can be a definite con. Especially if there’s a time zone difference.
A good way to make sure no one misses a hangout and that it fits in everyone’s schedules is by sending an actual calendar invite. Yeah, it seems a little formal and gives remote work vibes, but this is you working on your relationship! It’ll make it easy to remember. Or text each other reminders. Whatever floats your boat. Basically, set a day and time to hang out and make sure that you and your partner are free.
If you both have lots going on, you can try a “background Skype.” That’s where you set up a video chat in the background while you continue with your regular stuff, sometimes chiming in if you have something to say. Cute lil’ way to stay in touch with busy schedules!
2. Keep Living Your Regular Life
As much as it can suuuuck to be long distance with someone, it’s not gonna make it better if you wait at the door until they visit again, or stare at your phone for them to call/ text back. You gotta keep living your life.
Hang out with your loved ones. Focus on your hobbies. Go to local events (if it’s all safe and good for you to do so). Take your dog for a walk. Walk your friend’s dog. Walk your neighbour’s dog. Start a dog walking service. We could name dog-related examples all day, but you get the idea.
Focusing on other things can be a healthy way to deal with stuff that’s tough for you. But don’t get it twisted – you should still be feeling all the feelings that you feel. We don’t want you to repress how much you miss them. We’re just saying that ruminating on it won’t change anything, so why not check out that local art show you’ve heard so much about?
3. Be Honest About Your Feelings
This one can be tough. People will often want to say that [Kim Kardashian voice] “everything is fine,” even though everything is not fine, but you just can’t get into it. If you’re really sad and miss them, you can say that. You should say it, actually. It helps everyone if you’re honest about your feelings rather than bottling it up. Or, if you had a FaceTime date planned and they couldn’t make it, let them know you were disappointed.
It’s super important to approach these situations of emotional vulnerability with empathy and compassion for yourself and each other. Long distance can be hard on everyone involved. Things can be misunderstood, especially over text. For example, when someone says “Hey.” instead of “Hey!”, it can lead to an instant nervous sweat. Are they upset, or did they just accidentally hit period instead of the exclamation point??
Ask them if they can call or FaceTime you to have an honest conversation. It might be challenging for you in the moment, but you’ll both come out more connected and with a better understanding of each other’s feelings.
4. Figure Out Your Love Language
So, you’re dating long-distance, and your partner is FLOODING your mailbox with cute lil’ gifts that they order for you! Which is great! You appreciate the thought behind it. Buuut you haven’t talked to them in a few days and what you really want is a video call with them.
This miscommunication has to do with you and your partner’s love languages. Based on a book by Dr. Gary Chapman, love languages encompasses a few ways that romantic partners can express their love to their SO, and how they want to be loved. There’s five main ones:
- Receiving Gifts: giving and buying gifts for your partner
- Quality Time: spending time together without distractions
- Acts of Service: doing something helpful for your partner
- Physical Touch: connecting with your partner through touch
- Words of Affirmation: saying kind and supportive things to your partner
As Simone Saunders explains in her DiveThru course “Working Towards a Healthy Relationship,” you learn a lot about how to love someone else through the ways you were loved when you were younger.
So if your loved ones liked to buy you little knickknacks when they were out, you might appreciate gifts now. Similarly, if you grew up in a household that gave out all the hugs, your love language might be touch. Let ‘em know what you like and ask them what their love languages are. Less miscommunication, more understanding, more love!!
5. Get Support From a Pro
Couples therapy might not be the first tip for long distance relationships that you want to hear. There’s a whooole bunch of stigma around it. But trust us when we say that it can be a great way to know each other’s expectations and feelings!
A mental health professional can be a mediator between you and your S.O. when you’re long distance. With so many people doing therapy over video calls now, it’s even more accessible for a long distance couple to see a therapist together! The therapist can help you communicate with each other in a safe environment, and make your relationship more open and trusting. If you find that you’re both having some trouble opening up, it’s a good option to consider!
Whatever you choose to do with your long distance relationship, it’s pretty similar to an up-close relationship. Treat your partner with respect, spend time together, have your own life, figure out each other’s love languages, and get help if you want it. You’ll be just fine!