Hi, I’m Jen! I’m the founder of The Soloist, a hub for all things related to solo travel, including one-on-one planning services, boutique retreats, and travel blog resources!
A little over a year ago, I decided to quit my job and travel for a year. I was burnt out and needed a serious career break! Three months later, I met my boyfriend on a solo trip to Antarctica. Yup, Antarctica — what, like that’s not normal?! Even though I met someone I did NOT want to lose, I wasn’t ready to abandon my dream of traveling! Since he’s an absolute trooper, we’ve been in a long distance relationship while I’ve been road-tripping around the U.S. for the last year.
I’ve learned quite a few (hard) lessons about long distance relationships. Am I a relationship expert? Absolutely not. Not even close. Not even a little bit.
But I’d love to share what I HAVE learned for anyone else who may be starting or struggling with their own long distance relationship. My key takeaway? The relationship will *seriously* test you, but you’ll be stronger for it. Both individually and as a couple!
Here is my year's worth of advice on long distance relationships...
1. Set ground rules
First thing’s first? Get on the same page!! Set *explicit* ground rules for your long-distance relationship.
Here are some questions to consider:
How long will you do the long-distance thing; is there an end date?
How often will you FaceTime, talk on the phone, text, email, whatever?!
Will you be monogamous while you’re apart?
How long will you go between reunions?
Will you take turns traveling to meet each other?
How will you manage the costs to travel back and forth?
Anything else I missed… ?!
Be vocal regarding your needs and show vulnerability with all of the things you’re nervous about.
These questions and concerns will likely be re-visited over time as your long-distance relationship progresses. It’s critical to set this groundwork from the start.
The most essential advice I can give for long-distance relationships is to *over*-communicate. Whether you’re setting those initial ground rules or dealing with insecurity and jealousy many months later, solid communication between you and your partner is the only thing that will get you through it.
I know this sounds obvious for ALL relationships, but I think it’s even MORE important for long-distance. The truth is, so much about each other’s daily lives and emotions can be kept private from one another.
The more open and frequently you communicate with each other, warts and all, the higher your likelihood of relationship longevity.
3. Always know when you'll see each other next
This lesson turned out to be an important one for me because I’m not as spontaneous as I thought!
For me, it was less about how *long* we went between reunions and more about actually setting a future time and date. I suffered through anxiety when we had said goodbye without concrete plans in place. I had confidence in the sustainability of our relationship (i.e., I knew we’d *eventually* see each other again), but having set plans made me feel more 100x more secure. As long as we had a date to meet in six weeks, I could easily survive six weeks alone. It’s all about expectations; I recommend having yours adequately set!
4. Don't over plan your time together
When we first started long-distance dating, we over-planned our time together. We tried to pack in as many activities as possible to “make the most of it.” In actuality, snuggling on the couch with a movie was one of the most impactful ways for us to rekindle closeness and intimacy after being apart.
I’m not saying we didn’t enjoy our full days skiing together, hiking through National Parks, or taste-testing street tacos… boy, did we! But we now understand the importance of carving in PLENTY of time for lazying around with each other’s quiet company too.
Like in any relationship, those are often the most memorable moments. 🙂
5. Make the most of your time apart!
Instead of spending your time alone sulking and thinking about how great it will be when you reunite with your partner, shift your perspective. Some aspects of single life are downright AWESOME!
When I’m away from my boyfriend, I get to binge-watch all of my favorite trashy television shows he hates. I get to fall asleep in a starfish position sprawled out across the entire bed. I get to paint my toenails on the couch without someone complaining that the nail polish smells. I get to make plans and meet up with friends without even *considering* my boyfriend’s schedule.
Essentially, I get to indulge in anything and everything that feeds my soul; it’s the ultimate self-care!
Whenever I’m feeling extra lonely or missing him like hell, I stop myself in my downwards spiral and consciously focus on doing these sorts of activities that are BETTER alone. Soak them up while you can!!
6. Keep your eye on the big picture
Let’s be honest — sometimes the challenges of a long-distance relationship feel too tough to handle. It gets draining showing up as the 5th wheel to a party (yet again!), and there are many life moments your partner will miss.
It’s SO important to maintain a long-term perspective. If you want to be with your partner for many years to come, this long-distance phase is just a drop in the hat! Also, I find that some of my *deepest* conversations with my boyfriend happen on the phone when we’re alone. Your future selves will likely benefit from this time apart, strengthening your bond and resiliency.
If you can get through this, you’re one of those couples that can get through anything!
7. Get creative
All relationships, long-distance or otherwise, require constant nurturing. One of the things I *love* about dating someone far away is that it’s SO easy to surprise your partner!
I like to use the distance to my advantage and get super creative with little acts of love and kindness. Sending fun food or flower deliveries, snail mail postcards, souvenirs or nick-nacks from my local town, or surprise FaceTimes when I’m having a damn good hair day!!
There are plenty of ways to show you care when you’re not there, and it’s extra FUN when you choose to be creative with it!
A note from Cassie:
Have you been in a long distance relationship? How did it go… are you still together?
I’ve been doing the long distance relationship with my husband throughout most of the pandemic, and Jen’s tips could not resonate more!
Pop a comment below for me & Jen to not feel so alone in this – there’s safety in numbers!
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