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Long-distance relationships in the digital age: Is a long-distance relationship hard?

When you love someone, being physically apart is hard. But that doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed! For starters, it’s not that bad (full transparency, I’m three years into a long-distance relationship as we speak!). Despite what’s portrayed in the movies, you don’t have to wallow in heartache and self-pity. In fact, long-distance relationships are totally doable… under the right pretenses (hello, communication, trust, and loyalty). 

Now, long-distance relationships are not for everyone, and that’s okay. But they aren’t an immediate deal breaker either. Here’s what I mean…

Understanding the nature of long-distance relationships…

As the name implies, long-distance relationships are an intimate relationship between two people who are geographically separated. And whether you’re two hours apart or 2,000 miles apart, there are no bounds of what it means to be “long-distance.”

If you choose to embark in the journey of a long-distance relationship (because it is a journey), you’re likely committed to your partner. And that commitment is special, fun, and sacred. Distance is not automatically doom and gloom, and long-distance can actually strengthen a relationship. I mean, there must be a reason behind the phrase “distance makes the heart grow fonder,” right?

Okay, so is a long-distance relationship hard? The realities unveiled.

I’d be lying if I said a long-distance relationship is always easy. Just like any and every relationship, conflict is sometimes inevitable. 

That being said, a long-distance relationship does not have to be inherently hard. If you and your partner have unwavering trust and killer communication skills, that’s the first step. And when I say killer communication skills, that doesn’t mean you have to be texting 24/7. If you and your partner are on the same page and have a mutual understanding of how and when you best communicate, that’s the recipe for success. 

Now, there can be the added unavoidable challenge of a time zone difference. But don’t dwell on what's outside your control. Learn each other's routines and respect each other’s schedules. You’ll adjust quicker than you think. 

Another less-than-ideal challenge? Physical intimacy. Naturally, sex becomes quite challenging when you aren’t in the same space. But that doesn’t mean it’s totally out of the question. Get creative. Sext before bed, masturbate together on FaceTime, use long-distance capable sex toys, and prioritize steamy communication. Light a spark and keep the flame alive. A little lead time isn’t the worst thing in the world. When you’re back together and the main event can finally happen… it’s that much better. 

The positive side: Can long-distance relationships work?

Yes, long distance relationships can totally work. Research even shows that couples in a long-distance relationship tend to have more satisfaction than couples who are geographically close. Here’s why:

I’m a firm believer that long-distance can bring you and your partner closer. You’re both growing independently but doing it side-by-side from a far. Here me out. Whether you’re in school, working, moving to a new city, or starting a new job, you are growing. You’re becoming independent and gaining a ton of life experience along the way. Technically, you are doing this “something new” alone, but you have unwavering support and someone cheering you on from afar. That’s pretty special.

Your communication skills also blossom. When your partner isn't there to physically see something themselves, you have no choice but to talk and communicate the experience. Even something as simple as what you made for breakfast or the podcast you listened to becomes important and worth mentioning. The mundane becomes valuable and the boring details become connecting – even if it seems small.  

Another long-distance perk? Common goals. If you are committing to long-distance, you likely have a shared end goal. A light at the end of the tunnel. Whether that’s moving in together or eventually getting married, long-distance is work and commitment. To be successful, there must be a unifying common goal and shared interest.  

long distance relationships: are they hard?

Ways to mitigate the challenges in a long-distance relationship

Not to sound like a broken record, but communication and trust are key. If your values and morals are in-line, you have most of your bases covered. However, there are certainly some best practices to keep things running smoothly. 

  • DO talk on the phone or FaceTime. Texting is great, but hearing your partner's voice adds another important communication element. Focus on quality communication, not just quantity. Whether you talk in the car or before bed, find a convenient time for both of you and make it a priority. 
  • DO plan your visits. From personal experience, it makes distance so much easier when you have something to look forward to. Plan your trips to visit each other in advance and put it in your calendar. The unknowing can be difficult, and quite frankly sad, so prioritize your schedules and book a visit.
  • DON’T put your life on hold. Yes, long-distance relationships require time, effort, money, and emotion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live independently. Don’t over-sacrifice yourself to the point you harbor resentment. Do your best to build your own community and friendships, and don’t isolate yourself. 
  • DON’T over-analyze. It’s so much easier said than done but do your best to avoid over-analyzing your long-distance partner. Don’t dwell on how long it takes them to respond and don’t check their location every 10 minutes. Believe in the power of mutual trust and communication. If something is bothering you, bring it up to your partner directly, because the “what if’s” can be detrimental.
  • DO set goals. Research shows that long-distance relationships are more successful when there’s a general understanding that it’s temporary. So, it’s healthy to check-in on each other’s expectations and set realistic relationship goals. They don’t have to be set in stone, but it’s nice to keep your eye on the prize.  

    Sexual intimacy in a long-distance relationship

    Sex is inherently a little ~different~ when you are physically apart. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be totally absent or unsatisfying. To keep the spark alive, and your pleasure at peak performance, here’s some steamy ideas: 

  • Sext. I don’t make the rules… sexting is hot! Explore with what makes you feel confident and connected and go for it. Chances are, it’s going to be good. 
  • Phone sex. Whether it’s on Facetime or over the phone, play around with phone sex. Communicate, breathe, show, tell, etc, etc, etc. Get creative! 
  • Long-distance toys. 2023 is a brilliant time to be alive because long-distance sex toys are a thing. Some are in sync and others are controlled via app, but the ability to feel the same patterns, pulses, and sensations is wildly connecting. Remote-controlled orgasms? Say less.  

    In conclusion...

    Bottom line? Long-distance relationships are doable. Most of the time, they are temporary with a clear end-goal in sight. There will be challenges and struggles, but it doesn’t come without benefits and growth. If the love and support are there, with communication and trust baked in, you’ll find a way to make a long-distance relationship work in your favor.