Long-distance relationships (LDR) have grown to be more common over the past several years with over 14 million couples finding themselves in one.  Moreover, LDR’s seem to be increasingly fitting to our modern lifestyles of college, military deployment, business or job relocation and online dating success. Modern technology has bridged the gap bringing us even closer, allowing us to be with our loved ones regardless of what timezone they might temporarily reside in.

There are challenges to overcome: things can get tricky and it won’t always be rainbows and sunshine —  just like any other relationship. Here are five of the top topics I wish I knew when I started my long distance relationship:

1. Set proper Expectations

Having clear-cut expectations can minimize a lot of tension and unnecessary worry in the long run. It can be a bridge that builds and maintains trust at all times, and it’s a necessary measure that you will naturally grow dependent on.

If you can’t answer a message or call as can sometimes happen — life gets in the way — be sure to let your loved one know in advance. What time do you have to go to school or work, how long will you be gone for, how long it takes for you to get back — these are all details which in a LDR, are extremely crucial.

Be descriptive, provide details and let it become a habit. There will be missed calls, unanswered texts, “seen” messages which can be super frustrating in an LDR, but guess what – they are to be expected.

2. Communication is EVERYTHING.

LDR’s have been found to be better at communication compared to traditional couples. In study titled “Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder,” psychologists tell us that not only do LDRs have more meaningful communication and interaction on a more frequent basis, but they are more open in discussing deeper issues and topics: love, sex and life.

There are so many ways to keep in touch: Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Telegram and many others come in handy to maintain communication throughout the day.

It may be difficult at times, especially if you live in different time zones or if you both have a busy schedule. Although, just by sending them an unexpected small message, a photo, sharing a location, even a funny meme you thought they may like is a form of communication to let them know that you’re always thinking of him/her.

Just make sure to schedule some time together during your free time, write down anything important you will want to share when you get to spend time for long conversations or you can even watch movies together (I can talk with plenty of experience on this topic), play video games or even plan a date night and set up the mood for it.

3. Things may get boring and that’s OK.

Let’s be honest, this happens to every relationship. Things can get stale and slow, but that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you or your LDR. Like I said before, it’s not always rainbows and sunshine. Maybe nothing exciting happened during the day or week worth chatting about, or maybe you’re both tired and fell asleep during your Skype calls.

There are downtimes to be expected and that is normal. Remember, there are only so many things you can do over the internet. You can always break the monotony by trying new things, re-discovering old things, and it can serve as fuel to bring you two closer together for a visit sooner than later.

The key is to remain honest and share your thoughts, feelings and mood with your partner.

4. It can be expensive.

Whether you plan on having frequent visits or you’re sending each other presents, these are things that will involve spending money. Plane tickets, gas bills, hotels may take a big chunk out of your paycheck, so plan appropriately — together.

Get a card from an airline that allows you to accumulate miles, save up money in advance for gas and also for those presents on special occasions.

If you are in a situation similar to mine, where I had to move to another continent and a strange new country, plan everything down to the most minute detail.

5. Plan the Future.

I’m sure none of you will be entirely happy staring at a screen for the rest of your lives, therefore you must plan. Like Eisenhower said: “…plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Talk about the future, cooperate and mutually agree on every detail — together.

In my case, I had to deal with a Lovecraftian horror amount of paperwork, bureaucracy and approvals. Granted, it would have gone much smoother if we planned it out better from the beginning as opposed to making it up as we went, but it did work out in the end. I’m talking about the quest of receiving a student visa after university enrollment has closed, having to drive to and from Bulgaria several times in hopes for a temporary visa, gathering the necessary documents with minimal to no instructions, and more — but that’s another story for another post.

Avoid the hassle by knowing what you’re getting yourself into, knowing the rules of the land, the requirements of the state/province or country you will visit or move to.

These are my top tips for my fellow LDR couples. Stay consistent, be honest and work through challenges as they arise. Distance can buffer out many sharp edges and allows you to explore your partner and the relationship itself in detail, making for a more healthy and fruitful long-term relationship once distance is taken out of the equation.

What are your thoughts, experiences? Let me know in the comments! I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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