Entering a long-distance relationship can be trying, even for couples who have been together for years and have developed a strong foundation. Every successful couple in an LDR has their own tips and tricks on how to make it work (hint: lots of communication), but then again, every couple is different. So, what advice would experts give? Here, dating coach Laurel House (who is also known as “The Man Whisperer”) breaks down five of the biggest challenges that come with the distance and exactly what you can do to overcome them.
The Challenge: Feeling disconnected
“Your partner isn’t always going to physically or even emotionally be there when you need them,” says House. “It might be obvious, but when you’re in that relationship and your best friend just got engaged and she is having a party to celebrate and your significant other in London can’t make it on such short notice, you might feel alone, abandoned, hurt, or even angry.” The best way to stay connected is by making special time for one another. “Schedule phone dates–more than phone dates, schedule Skype or Facetime dates,” suggests House.
Take it one step further and make it feel like an actual date. Set the table, make dinner, and eat together. Or, plan to watch movies or read books together so that you are creating additional opportunities of things to talk about. The point? To create shared experiences that will help to expand and deepen your relationship. This opens up the conversation from just reporting on your day.
The Challenge: Getting stuck in “vacation mode”
“When together, couples are often on their best behavior—loving, sexy, and focused. They wear their best clothes, make sure to always groom, and stay in a happy state of mind,” says House. While it’s great to be your best self when with your partner, she points outs that it’s not always realistic. While you may be drinking and indulging more, treating every moment like a celebration or vacation, it’s important that you take time to chill out.
“Make sure to have a full day where you do nothing at all except sit and talk and cook and live together—meaning, live life as you normally would together,” says House. She suggests looking up The Love Game: 36 Questions for Falling in Love. It’s a series of questions that are thought-provoking, heart-opening, and connection-building. In fact, it’s great for any couple! The questions invite real and deep conversations in a way that feels less threatening than bringing them up on your own.
The Challenge: Not being intimate
“Sex—or physical contact in general—isn’t just about the orgasm,” says House. “Touch is a connector.” She says many of her clients notice they argue more often when they are experiencing a sexual slump in the relationship. Touching raises endorphins, which can make you feel emotionally connected, she explains, so when your relationship lacks that intimacy, it can lead to feelings of disconnect, insecurity, and jealousy.
A simple solution: masturbation (doing it alone and together). “Create verbal fantasies together, and talk through the fantasies during phone or Skype sex,” says House. “It’s almost like you will be writing your own erotica together and simultaneously experiencing it in your minds.” She also recommends picking out sex toys together or sending each other sexy gifts to help keep the romance alive.
The Challenge: Missing life’s “in-betweens”
“Life’s in-betweens are the little things that make you smile, that brighten your day, that remind you that you’re not alone,” House says. In other words, they are the daily details that keep a relationship strong. “While some can be done from afar—like the afternoon text to say ‘I’m thinking of you’—others, like having coffee in the morning, grabbing flowers for you on his/her way home, making dinner for each other, are not possible when you two are long distance,” she cautions.
This is another reason that making time to connect is crucial. House suggests regularly scheduled phone times (though, calling or texting whenever you have a spare moment is always welcome, too).
The Challenge: Jealousy
Pretty much every relationship comes with some level of jealousy, but imagine experiencing those feelings from a distance. “One way that you can work on this is by having a tracking device, like Life360, on your cell phones,” says House. Sure, it may sound crazy, but it allows you to stay up-to-date. “This isn’t about stalking your partner, but is instead keeping each other aware of what you are up to throughout the day, just as you might if you lived together and shared schedules or calendars,” she explains.
“There’s a comfort when you miss your significant other and wonder what he/she is up to, and can go onto Life360 and see that he/she is at the gym,” she furthers. Life360 also allows you to “heart” other people’s check-ins, letting them know that you are thinking about them. “Just knowing where you both are will give you a sense of comfort and closeness, even when you’re physically far away.”