#1: Communicate Just the Right AmountThat's a hard pill to swallow because who knows what the right amount of communication in any relationship really is? How much is too much and how much is not enough? To understand the logic behind that advice, we spoke to several relationship experts who regularly counsel couples in a long-distance relationship. Here's the gist of what they said: Talk as often as it feels right. The moment it feels like a chore for either one of you, cut back. And when you find yourself wishing you were on a call with your significant other, take it one notch up. This is some sound advice, and it's practical, too. Not only does this make the communication part dynamic but it also allows you to feel the pulse and adjust the frequency of your communication accordingly. From a practical viewpoint, let's say you begin by getting on a call once every two days. If either of you feels that it is impinging on your schedule, then dial it down to two times a week and see if that works. On the other hand, if you find yourself eagerly waiting for that call - too eagerly - then maybe it's time to set up a daily schedule that works for both of you. That's the reason it's dynamic as well. If, at any point in time, you or your partner feels that it's getting a little too much for what you have to say to each other or too little to say it all, adjust the frequency to match the need. Optionally, you can increase the frequency but make the calls shorter. That works better for some people who already have a lot on their plate on a daily basis. The idea is to keep it fluid so both of you control the duration and neither feels that it's a burden or that it's not enough.
#2: Find a Common Area of InterestPeople don't always fall in love because they're into the same things, but once you're in love, you'll see that you do share a lot of things in common. The idea here, therapists say, is to find something that both of you can engage in on a regular basis. It could be an activity you both participate in virtually, reading the same book separately and discussing it together, watching a movie in sync and then talking about it, and so on. The purpose of this exercise is not to stay within your respective comfort zones but expand those comfort zones so they overlap. If the two of you have nothing much in common but you both love horses, find a way to bring that into your lives and engage in it actively. It could be as simple as watching horse videos for an hour each week or sharing your childhood horse-riding stories just before you go to bed. Whatever you decide, make sure the topic is of interest to you both and not a case of one person's hobby being forcibly thrust on the other. Be honest. If you don't like something the other person suggests, say it. Over time, you can look for new things to connect you together, constantly strengthening your relationship in the process.
#3: Appreciate Why You're Apart in the First PlaceA lot of long-distance couples tend to focus on the 'being separated' part instead of understanding the reason for their separation. It could be that you go to different colleges or work in different countries even. It could be that one of you is unable to move due to financial challenges or family commitments. In every case, there will be at least one reason why you're in a long-distance relationship. If you can recognize that reason and truly respect the decision you made around it, it will be a lot easier to handle the separation. It might also give you a firm timeline for when you can finally be together again physically. In most cases, it's education or finances or work or health that's keeping you at a distance from each other. Many of these reasons have finite lifetimes. In other words, you can predict when those situations will eventually end. Focus on that as the 'time remaining' on your long-distance relationship and stick it out, because whatever is keeping you apart is really important or you wouldn't have decided on a long-distance relationship in the first place. Of course, it doesn't always work that way. For instance, if one of you had to stay back home because of a bedridden parent and the other took a job in a different city, you don't necessarily know when you'll be able to join each other. For the most part, however, these situations are predictable and will allow you to make plans for the future. And that brings us to actually making those plans.
#4: Fix a Firm Date for the Ultimate Reunion if Possible
We often just leave this to chance and destiny but, if we do, then we're only allowing other things to come in the way of our being together again. Things happen: new jobs come along, new education opportunities pop up, and life generally happens whether we're watching closely or not. During this time, if you're not vigilant, other things will creep in that will prolong your separation. That's why you need to have a firm date to get back together again. If that means making travel plans two years ahead, so be it. That plane ticket will be your motivation to stick it out through whatever the reason was for the separation.
The obvious benefit of doing this is that it gives you the mental stamina to undergo the separation period, but there's also another benefit you might not have thought of. That's the benefit of being able to focus better on what you're doing now. Everything you do between now and then will take you a step closer to that much-anticipated future. That means you'll do a better job at work or school, you'll appreciate what you have in your hand right now rather than pine away thinking of your far-away love.
#5: Focus More on the PositivesAre there any positives in a long-distance relationship? Absolutely! Experts say that long-distance couples are actually more productive in their lives because they don't have "love" as a constant distraction. Having time to yourself means you can focus better on what you're doing now. In a way, that carries over from the previous point of having a firm date to be together again. Whether that's focusing on your studies or having more time to spend with family and friends, it frees you from the obligations of being in a full-time relationship. Of course, don't think that a long-distance relationship isn't full-time, but recognize the fact that a lot of your time is your own. Another positive is that the separation will reveal how much you love and miss each other. Having your partner by your side at all times is great but it tends to make you take things for granted. Even their presence is taken for granted and, therefore, less appreciated. Being in a long-distance relationship changes all that, and you learn to truly value whatever time you're able to spend with each other, even virtual time.
#6: Don't Ignore the Elephant in the Room
A lot of couples take the easy way out and just avoid topics that are touchy for either or both of them. Big mistake, whether it's in a long-distance relationship (LDR) or a geographically-close relationship (GCR). But it's even worse in an LDR because of the absence of proximal non-verbal cues like eye contact and body language. Sure, you can get that from a video call but it's not the same thing. And because of this, it's often easier to avoid the tough subjects like doubts that either of you may have or something a mutual friend told you. Learning to air it out makes a relationship infinitely healthier. It's not easy, and I'm not trying to tell you that it is. It's definitely a hard task. However, as you start addressing these issues, you'll realize that it gradually brings you closer to each other than anything that's all positive and feel-good. Those are important, too, but there's really nothing like going through a crisis situation to help with bonding. Sometimes, that's all you need to put out the smoldering embers in your relationship before they flare up into uncontrollable conflagrations. If you don't do this, things might blow up in a disproportionate way, affecting you in the long run and maybe even ruining the chances of a healthy long-distance relationship.