Hey, Lyndsay here! So Tom and I have been managing a relationship from Calgary to LA. And it’s hard, but not as hard as it could be. There are a lot of things you can do to make distance work. We haven’t been at this for long, and I am hoping some people in longer-running relationships will hop in in the comments!
The first thing to remember about distance is the little parts of body language and tone that you can use to communicate in person aren’t there. Clear communication – be willing to be frank, and be willing to share things about yourself. You have to do it with more bravery than it can take in person.
Here’s a lot of the stuff that we use to stay in touch with each other and hang out all the time when we can’t be there in person.
Being in touch is very easy with smartphones and social media!
If you’re international, there are great apps that let you get around international texting charges. Voxer lets you text and send short voice messages. Gchat lets you chat, share images and video chat on hangouts. For international couples, gchat keeps archives – a big help if you need to file proof of relationship later!
I use text and IM to stay in touch with Tom throughout the day. Sharing news stories, talking about what’s on my mind and just hanging out. The apps let me avoid international texting charges.
Tom and I already had a lot of overlap on our social media accounts, Twitter especially, but sharing our relationship on Facebook and Twitter is a great way to get to know each other’s friends and interact in a way that’s not just one-on-one.
I like being able to use twitter to introduce my friends and Tom to each other. It’s something that I have a lot of fun with, and it can help your relationship feel more integrated with the rest of your social life. Without this, our relationship sort of feels like it’s not a part of my other friendships, and it’s important to me that they’re at least a little bit entwined.
Snapchat is a great way to stay in touch with photos while avoiding filling up your storage with a ton of boring photos of each other’s faces. You can also text chat, add text to images and jazz up your photos with the drawing tool.
I like snapchat because Tom sends me photos of cars he sees around in LA – I really like cars, and sometimes I’ll get 4 or 5 shots of a Tesla, SLK or something more unusual. It’s a little thing that lets me know he’s thinking of me. I mostly brag to him about my meals and give him important Luigi updates. There’s also a lot to be said for being able to see each other’s faces throughout the day. It’s very comforting when you miss each other!
We get together on weekends over Hangouts. Sometimes we’re just spending time together, other times we’re helping each other out. I get to help Tom plan his D&D games sometimes (if you’re in Tom’s game: everything bad that happens to you was totally not my idea, that was all Tom, I promise). We planned a lot of the fundraising campaign over Hangouts as well!
I really like the quiet, not doing anything hangouts that we have. It’s nice to share my downtime with him there.
Tom and I share a love of games, so we play a lot together. There are board and multiplayer games on Steam, and lots more to play on iOS. We like to play board games together on a hangouts. We also play Martian Dice together on Hangouts with 2 sets!
One of the more fun things we did recently was play through Borderlands 2 on co-op on PS3. I’d never played it, but Tom loves Borderlands 2 so he got to share it with me. I’m excited to do the same thing with the Left 4 Dead games – they’re my jam, and he’s never really played them.
We also play tabletop games over Hangout with friends, which is another one of those integrating your LDR into your social circle things.
The point of all these tools is how you use them!
It’s important to have rituals. Have a block of time each day, each week, etc. where you do something together. Being able to know the next time you’ll have each other’s full attention is a huge deal. Whether it is a hangout or a co-op game, make sure you have time scheduled to make each other a priority.
I like to find little things with low shipping cost to have sent to Tom as a surprise. We both really like stationery, so I’ve sent him some pens before. It’s nice to be able to give him something tangible so easily. Steam purchases are another nice surprise, especially a co-op or multiplayer game you can enjoy together!
This is the trickiest part. Long distance relationships aren’t cheap. It takes travel – and international travel is especially expensive. But knowing the next time you’ll be able to be together has a big impact on your well being.
Plan your visits while you’re apart. It’s nice to be spontaneous, but we like to have 2 or 3 things we plan to do before a visit starts. Sharing your days with each other with the apps I talked about before is a good way to figure out what you should do together when you’re there in person!
Believe in it.
Above all, you have to believe in your relationship. You have to work hard on it to be successful, but if you’re pulling together you can make it work!
Moving to be together isn’t always an option. I’m looking forward to hearing how friends who have been in long distance relationships have managed. What are your tips and tricks? Tell us in the comments!