The jury's still out on whether distance makes the heart grow fonder or of it's out of sight, out of mind, but one thing is clear — it's not easy to keep a long-distance relationship afloat, and it can sometimes take a little extra TLC to keep the spark alive. We asked frequent fliers at Marie Claire Ask & Answer — Marie Claire's online Q&A community for dating, sex, and relationship advice — for their no-fail secrets for long-distance success.
Disagree, but Don't Argue
"We LISTEN to each other — we disagree, but we NEVER argue," says Answerology member stillagoodguy1. "We hear each other's point of view, and either reach a middle ground or just drop it."
Going to bed angry is a bad enough feeling to start with, but couple that with hundreds or thousands of miles between you and you have a recipe for disaster. Keep State of the Union discussions in-person only if you can help it, and get out of the habit of texting entire conversations instead of calling. There's more room for miscommunication and misunderstands via text, so avoid typing something you'll regret later and make it a rule not to hash out relationship issues, big or small, over text.
Keep It Fresh
"We always act like the relationship is brand-new," stillagoodguy1 adds. "By keeping it fresh it always seems like it is. We send each other cards and texts and gifts and talk four or five times a day; the last being at her bedtime so that there is an 'I love you' hanging in the air until our morning call."
Renew that puppy love feeling often — keep flirting with each other and doing the little things you did when your relationship was fresh. When you can't see your significant other, it's all that much more important to remind them how much they mean to you. So go ahead and be corny — bring on the "just because" gifts, old-school love letters, and cutesy nicknames!
Communicate Every Day
Answerology user ptawillis was stationed thousands of miles away from his sweetheart for three years while in the army. His secret? "We kept in touch daily and wrote each other as often as we could."
Talking every single day might be overkill in a normal relationship, but when you're long-distance, lack of communication can prey on insecurities. Reassure each other of your commitment with some kind of daily communication, whether it's a morning phone call or impromptu text messages and e-mails. It might feel tedious sometimes, but try not to let yourselves slack — it's important to keep each other up-to-date when you're not involved in the day-to-day of each other's lives.
Live Your Own Life
kanji2000 reminds us, "Just realize that your partner still has a life that he/she has to live." His long-distance relationship went sour when his girlfriend planned their wedding...before he had proposed! "Don't push for marriage immediately just because you miss your partner sooo much," he warns.
An ocean between two people has a tendency to add an intensity and urgency to the relationship that might not necessarily exist without the distance. Keep things in perspective, and be patient. It's important to talk about the future and keep the conversation going about your plans to eventually be in the same zip code, but don't push for a commitment before you're ready. And don't let your relationship consume you and get in the way of your daily life. If you can't make it through dinner with friends without breaking out your laptop and Skyping your significant other, it might be time to step back and shift your priorities.