How to cope in a long distance relationship

Long distance relationships are full of challenges and patience to ensure success. But just how do you stay close when you're so far apart? Here are Closer’s top tips to surviving a long distance relationship

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by Closer staff |
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There is no doubt that coping with separation puts strain on even the most solid of relationships and for many couples, the trials associated with separation can feel unbearable.

This weekend, it emerged that Russell Crowe split with his wife of nine years because of his ‘hellish workload’ resulting in the actor not being able get back to see his family enough. This is nothing new – Michelle Keegan and Max George announced distance as one of the main reasons for their split, as did Kiera Knightley and Rupert Friend.

Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer
Russell Crowe and Danielle Spencer

But, don’t forget that it’s perfectly natural to feel doubt and fear in the lulls of a long-distance relationship. And according to stats compiled by the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships, the myth that most long-distance relationships fail is just that: a myth.

Long-distance relationship experts estimate that approximately almost 4 million singles (and 3 million married couples) are currently in long-distance relationships worldwide, and that figure is growing… But just how do you stay close when you're so far apart? Here are Closer’s top tips to surviving a long distance relationship.

Be clear about your expectations

'Schedule regular telephone calls and stay in touch with emails, texts and letters'

According to Dr Greg Guldner, author of Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide, almost 70 per cent of couples in long distance relationships that didn’t anticipate change or establish guidelines broke up within six months.

‘Set parameters, such as how often you’d like to talk’ says relationship psychologist Denise Knowles.

‘But stay flexible within these. While it’s good to make your expectations clear, appreciate that they can’t be met every time.’

So schedule regular telephone calls and stay in touch with emails, texts and letters and decide how often you’re going to visit each other.

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Keep the faith

When you’re physically apart from your partner, it’s normal and completely expected to feel the love and admiration start to waver while life-sized fears and doubt come in to play. But no matter how insecure you may feel on that day, try not to harp on the negative.

Dating coach Masini suggests, "Instead of moaning that you never see each other, talk about the interesting things you've been doing and ask what he's up to." This will help in two ways: He won't think you're obsessed with the relationship, and you won't be obsessed. The happier you act with your life, the happier you'll actually feel.”

If you keep nagging your partner about how miserable it is for the two of you, it is bound to upset him or her. Instead, look at the positive side to a long-distance relationship and take heart, that a meeting after a period of absence will be that much sweeter.



Making your partner feel loved is also very important. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages for Singles, says, "It's important to figure out how to make your long-distance partner feel cherished. This can be done with words. For example, 'If I were with you, I'd give you a big kiss.'"

Stay in synch and resolve conflict.

Una Healey and Ben Foden

Do things together while you’re apart, says relationship psychologist Denise Knowles.

‘We bond through sharing experiences, so choose a film to watch at the same time, or send letters and agree to open them together’ she says.



This simulates normality and helps you stay connected. 

Dr. Gary Chapman adds: "Share the day-to-day events going on in each other's lives. This is all geared to staying so close that when you do get together you won't have that awkward transition period where you feel like strangers."

Resolving conflict is important too: ‘Remove heat from disputes by agreeing to discuss them the next day, then take advantage of the space between you to decide what you want to say,’ says Knowles.



Finally, enjoy your independence

'Whether you live apart or together, it's important not to make your partner your whole life'

The Buddhists believe that it's important to love yourself first and not expect one person to do everything for you and be your everything. So remember that, even if you feel like you cannot live without this person, you can.

April Masini, dating coach and author of Date Out of Your League, says: "Don't offer to drop your entire life and move to his city [right away], especially if this is a new and budding relationship. Relocation is a huge life-changing decision and is not to be taken lightly."

“Eventually, of course, one or both of you hopefully will be able to move -- but the aim is compromise, not sacrifice.

"Whether you live apart or together, it's important not to make your partner your whole life.”



Often, there is a precarious balancing act between maintaining a relationship from a distance and juggling your own social lives. Many couples tend to do too much of the former, spending too much time with each other, whether it is on the phone or over the internet. This is often very damaging to your lives as individuals. Remember, when it comes down to it, you two are ultimately individuals with different lives.

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