How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship

I’ve done enough long distance stuff to know that it’s no picnic! Oftentimes travelers find themselves pushed into this imperfect situation. That’s why I wanted to share this guest post on how to survive a long distance relationship.

People ask me all the time, “So what’s the secret?” They are, of course, referring to the secret to making a long distance relationship work. While I don’t think I’m an expert, nor do I think I’m perfect in any relationship, I have logged over 15 months of long distance, and I know a handful of successful long distance relationships. I have learned a lot from my experience and from watching those around me. I will share with you what I think is “the secret.”

I will preface this by saying that if a long distance relationship is to survive at all, it has to be a good relationship, just as a non-long distance relationship should be. If you can’t trust each other, you constantly keep secrets from one another, and you don’t genuinely care about the other person, the relationship won’t last, whether it is long distance or not.

Lots of people are LD relationship doubters, and I have heard countless people say they never work or can’t work; well, I’m here to say that doesn’t need to be the case!

As a traveler, love, just like the rest of life, is transplanted on the road. It’s almost impossible not to meet someone special while on the road, or leave someone special at home when traveling summons us. So how do you make it work when you really (really) want it to work?

1. It’s Going to be Hard

How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship

If you want to survive your long distance relationship then you have to accept that it is going to be hard from the start, and you will be better prepared right away. Know that you won’t get to hold your partner’s hand when you are sad, you won’t get to kiss him or her when you need it most, you won’t have your favourite spooning partner on speed dial and you won’t be able to share knowing glances at inside jokes. It’s hard, but there are ways to get by.

2. Communicate

Communication is Key to Survive a Long Distance Relationship

We live in an incredible world where the possibilities for communication are endless. Get a skype account. If you both have an account, talking via Skype is free. If only one person has an account, long distance calls are inexpensive. If you both have iPhones or iPads, you can chat using facetime. Both of these options allow you to see your significant other through video. If these aren’t options, texting and calling never fail, and there are great apps like WhatsApp that allow you to text from anywhere in the world for free as long as both partners have the app. In a world where short text messages are becoming more of a norm, I know I love getting a nice long email (from anyone), but there is nothing more romantic than a lovely and long handwritten letter sent by post. It takes a little longer to arrive, but I think it’s just that much more meaningful, especially if you don’t know it’s coming.

3. Be Real.

Want to Survive a Long Distance Relationship - Be RealAll relationships face conflict at some point. Not everyone agrees on everything (not even the best of friends), and this can be hard to deal with in a short distance relationship, not to mention a long distance relationship. Know that disagreements and working through them are a healthy and normal part of being in a relationship, and just because you don’t live in the same city doesn’t mean you can pause the reality of your relationship. Both partners should feel comfortable telling the other if they are unhappy, worried, concerned or stressed out about something, if they need emotional support, or if something the other person did upset them if you are to survive a long distance relationship. These things should never be swept aside. And I don’t think I need to say this, but please don’t pick fights for the sake of picking a fight or trying to get attention. Try to keep a rational head on when discussing these sources of conflict.

4. Stay Busy.

Want to Survive a Long Distance Relationship? Keep Yourself Busy

Keep doing what you love, whatever that may be. Stay physically active, spend lots of time with friends, and don’t change who you are. Staying true to yourself will help you avoid falling into a long distance relationship funk. Plus, your boyfriend or girlfriend fell in love with you, and you should stay proactive in being your best self, even when you might just want to stay in for days on end eating ice cream out of a tub. Don’t do that.

5. Have an End Point in Mind.

Survive a Long Distance Relationship By Having an End Point

Do you ultimately want to end up together? Sometimes, this is hard to visualize if you are a Canadian and you just met an Australian while traveling through Scandinavia, and you are both headed home in a month. It is hard to visualize when you are an Australian living in England and met an American while traveling through Colombia. And what happens when you are traveling somewhere and meet a local, but never thought you’d be going back and they had never thought of leaving?

Rarely, permanently long distant relationships succeed. It happens, but it is rare. I believe that if a long distance relationship is going to stand a chance, there should be an end point in mind.

To survive a long distance relationship at first, these end points will likely be in the form of visits. One visits the other at Christmas. One surprises the other for her birthday. Both partners take turns visiting on weekends. Or perhaps you meet on an island in the Caribbean for a week. Depending on the distance you are faced with, the possibilities of the types and duration of visits will vary. You will know what works best with your relationship and budget. Having these end points will provide you both with something positive to look forward to and plan for together.

As a relationship progresses, one partner may choose to move temporarily to be with the other. Or perhaps you could both meet somewhere in the middle with working visas to start somewhere new together. If you travel well together, a round-the-world trip may be a short-term fix for seeing each other. Regardless, these choices have to be met with a sense of flexibility and sacrifice. You never planned to meet that dreamboat in Vietnam, so how could you possibly have ever imagined moving to Australia to be with him?

What does “ending up together” mean to you? Perhaps it is a life of nomadic travel, travel can even make your relationship stronger. Perhaps you want to open a guest house together in Thailand. Or maybe what you really want is a nice home together in Connecticut with lots of little round babies. Regardless of where you are both from, make sure you are working toward the same end point, understanding that this may change many times over the course of the relationship.


What is your experience with long distance relationships? Have I missed any tips on how to survive a long distance relationship?

Colleen Brynn is a travel addict and optometry student. She blogs at Colleen Brynn Travels


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How to Survive a Long Distance Relationship

46 thoughts on “How To Survive A Long Distance Relationship”

  1. Thank you thank you thank you for this post.

    Currently doing long distance and it was getting extremely difficult. I especially needed the reminder to continue being my best self…I was allowing myself to sink into a funk of self-pity and unhappiness, rather than seizing the opportunity to enjoy my trip. Why did I leave him behind if I am not even going to enjoy the trip?!

    Again, thanks for the timely post. It certainly helped remind me of some important things.

  2. Great tips! I agree with all of these! My boyfriend and I have been together for almost six years, but actually never even lived in the same city. No matter if you’re just a 30 minute train ride or several time zones apart, communication is the ultimate key. I think it’s especially important to share little everyday life moments: He would send me a photo of him trying on new cloths directly from changing room asking for my approval, I would send a picture of what I had for dinner. Sounds random, but it really helps.
    If you’re willing to trust and to communicate, long distance is absolutely manageable!

    1. You’re so right! Sharing the little moments make you feel instantly closer and a part of each others’ lives. I sometimes share those kinds of photos with my boyfriend too. I’m glad to hear LD has been working out for you! 🙂

    2. My boyfriend and I Skype while eating dinner sometimes so it feels like we are actually together or we leave Skype on and watch the same movie. He does send me clothes pics to help him when he has dinners to attend. I thought we were the only goofy ones who did this! Glad to know others do it too!!

  3. It’s tough… Communication and Skype are a must. I’ve done it twice now and LDR will test your relationship as well as put a magnifying glass on any problems you have. Currently paolo and I have 6 months apart while he finishes out his cruise ship contract and I’m following him around Asia in the ports where the cruise ship docks. We can’t do it any longer so he’s going to quit in a few weeks so we can be together. The road is full or surprises!!!

    1. What an interesting point. It’s true that if something in the relationship isn’t quite right, long distance will really bring it out. Hopefully these 6 months blow by so you guys can be together again!

  4. My boyfriend and I have done 2.5 years of distance and have about another year to go. Everything you mentioned is a must for an LDR to be bearable/work. In some ways LD has forced us to develop our communication skills more than “normal” relationships have in the past. I’m leaving for a solo 7 month RTW trip this summer and it’s nice knowing that we’ve already developed a baseline for dealing with different distances.

    1. That’s great to hear… I’m glad you are not putting off traveling either just because of a relationship. With the right person, LD doesn’t have to be the end of the world or the end of traveling!

  5. Great article, Colleen! As you know, I’ve had a few long-distance relationships. I think ultimately we broke up because we weren’t right for each other, not because of the long-distance. I totally agree with your tips.

    1. Thanks Brenna! I’ve had a couple of relationships that went through long distance that also went sour… but looking back I can see that we just weren’t right for each other, and the long distance had very little to do with the relationships’ ends.

  6. It is true that long distance relationships can be hard and it is down to how committed you are to each other to find out if it will work.

    Years ago I was in one and found out my partner at the time was cheating on me. It was hard to deal with but they are risks some face.

    Thankfully I’m in a much happier situation now. Skype is also a big plus nowadays for when I travel.

  7. That’s a great guide! In time I am having a long distance relationship and thinking how to make it work. Visits are the first step, that is for sure! 🙂

    Stephanie, I’ve nominated you to the super sweet blog award 😀 check my post about it through the commentluv 🙂

  8. Well, this post hit close to home. My husband and I met almost 7 years ago while I was celebrating my birthday in Jamaica with friends. I met him during a day trip to Negril. He was working on his uncle’s boat and he took us on a reef tour. After that, we exchanged numbers and kept in touch almost daily for 2 years, and I made lots of visits to Jamaica. This April we’ll celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary! It definitely hasn’t been a cake walk, but it’s definitely been worth it. I agree that both people have to be realistic and have to be on the same page about their expectations for the relationship. What I know for sure is that our time apart has made our times together that much sweeter! When we got married, we vowed never to be apart for more than 2 weeks, and so far, we’ve stuck to that.

  9. These are all great points!! My boyfriend and I started dating 3 days before he moved to China. We did long distance for almost 2 years when I finally took the plunge and moved to China too! We are now moving to Malaysia together will be living abroad for who knows how long.

    For us, living apart strengthened our relationship and helped it grow. All we could do for so long was communicate and learn about each other. We were forced to be independent and live our own lives. Now living together has only enhanced our lives!

  10. I have been in a long distance relationship for almost 6 years. We met when he was an undergrad and I was a staff member, he moved for a year to Chicago, then back to an hour from me then up to CT (I’m in KY). The secret is to communicate. I get 4 texts during the day and we have a standing date every night at 9p where we talk about our days, stories, plans etc. my relationship is based off of one phone call and a 4 day visit every 2 months. We have been doing this for years and it works for us, I can only stand being around him for 5 days max then it’s time to go home! Lol! We would like to live near each other but right now our jobs don’t permit it and I wouldn’t be too upset if we do this forever. It is hard and it takes time but it can work and makes you appreciate the other person more when you see them. You have to be honest and trust them, if you are insecure or have self esteem issues it will not work. You have to be positive and make each other feel wanted even over the ohone

  11. You hit the nail on the hear there.. can’t be insecure or have self esteem issues! I’m glad to hear it’s worked out for you, especially when you may be doing it that way forever. Good for you!

  12. Thank you for you post! I’m only 20 and my boyfriend and I have been dating for 4 years. I had to move to the U.S. from my home El Salvador. We both have grown so much. It’s so though, but if someone is meant to be together then all the sacrifices, and distance will be so worth it! I’ll be going on a vacation of a month and twenty days back at home. I can’t wait to see him and just be myself with him. People, keep it up! If you really want to be with someone, you’re going to go through so many hardships, and joyful moments. But you do thi because you love that special person. I believe that LDR are possible. I do think it depends on personality, but also willingness. LDR teach you so much and some reason I feel like we have progressed so much more than a “close” relationship.

  13. I don’t usually comment articles I read on Internet but I felt concerned this time and felt the need to share what I’m living. I’m French Canadian and I met a guy in Boston 2.5 years ago. He’s from England and living in Australia for 7 years. I have a 5 years old daughter in share custody so if someone has to move so we can be together it’s him. We’ve always been really close, faithful and so much in love despite the distance between us. Sadly lately it’s harder. We both want the same thing which is end up together but it means so many sacrifices for him but at the same time lots of opportunities. He’s just not ready to make the move, not ready to give up on us but this texting/skype/postcards/phone calls relationship is getting harder to maintain. We had tough times before where the distance was not easy but we got over it. i’m not sure about it this time :(.

  14. I am about to experince long distance relationship.. and some days I am feeling positive about the whole situation, and other days I just want to cry. I am a sophmore in college in NC and my bofriend is a senior here at the same college. Needess to say we have been together over a year now, and I have given up a lot for him as he has done for me. Yes, he is my best friend. He is asenior so he has to go on his journy and work for the Marriot which is his dream and they will place him anywhere. WELL, two weeks ago his dad recently passed away unexpectingly from a blood clot, that being said he is going to no matter what go home to Maryland to help with his mom, and work for Marriot (if that is where they will place him, but we are almost 100% they will)This upcoming summer, I am going to Charleston to work my internship, and he is going home. That is a ten hour difference (I know, I know i sound like a baby and alot of you have a much longer distance, but a best friend is a best friend and he is mine) We basically live together now, both at his house and mine- and recently saved a boxer puppy off the side of teh streets named Lily who has also become our best friend. It is tought situation, and we both talk about it here and there and he thinks and knows it will work but he is starting his life job as I have to more years to go, and I Think that is my scare. We have SOME trust issues, but they are always resolved and we talk through them, he really is great at communicating so that is a plus as so am I. I guess I am just trying to perpare myself. Last summer we tried the whole long distance thing, I went hom to Boston and he stayed here in NC to work for the summer. WE gave it a full month without seeing eachother, and I flew down to see him for a weekend and I will be honest and say it was amazing. Absense does make the heart founder for sure. That next weekend, we couldnt be apart anymore and I lived down in NC with him for the rest of the summer. Basically, I know it is gonna be hard, and I know what I need to do and he really is a great guy. I think my problem personaly is always thinking the worst/over thinking. I really just dont know how to get over it because I know that is what wont make us last. I am bracing and embracing what we have now. But I need to worry about myself for the next two years and I know quite know hw to do that when I am so in love with him. I am not giving up! And I Wont! I just need this bad thoughts or overthinking to leave my mind, but it is so very hard.

  15. I’m currently involved with a long distance relationship with a girl who lives in another country. We’re nearing our 3-year anniversary and are planning to try and meet for the first time for that occasion. However, it’s proving difficult with our financial situations. If you, or anyone else is interested, we setup a Indiegogo offering souvenirs in exchange for financial assistance in helping make our first in person encounter a reality. This is the link if anyone’s interested:

  16. I’m newly in a long distance relationship. My boyfriend and I met through facebook. We’ve been communicating back and fourth via Skype and whatsapp which I believe plays a big role in us keeping in touch. He finally asked me to be his girlfriend today, and I said yes of course :))))). Its a good feeling, but its my first time ever being in a long distance relationship, and I have no idea wat to expect, except thats its going to be difficult. We’ll send each other pics and videos of basically anyhing. I’ll send him pics when I’m boarding the train, or if I see something funny, cute or whatever I’ll video or snap it to him. He’ll do the same. Sending me pics of his dinner or if he’s out in the town. I get sad at times knowing he cant be with me physically, but im coping. We’re working on seeing each other this summer so thats something to look forward to. We’re trying our best. These tips are helpful though. Thanks and pray for us!! 🙂

    1. I am a indian in ldr with a colombian girl from last 5 months, things are very pretty now a days but this distance is much almost 9000 miles :/
      Also she is a single mother 28 years of age and I am 21 but love her so much, always try to do stuffs for her. Sending fotos and voice notes to each other, and everything is well now..
      Lets see what happen in future..
      And the amazing thing we got married each other on whatsapp, sounds crazy but true …… 😀 <3

  17. Been in an LDR for about 10 months now (precisely 10 months today). but am not feeling it. he doesn’t tell me how he feels. we communicate regularly on phone, he is not into skype (always dodging it). Actually, met him through his mum and now am beginning to think he is being forced to date me. he is 34 and am 24yrs now. am confused, don’t know what to do. am not totally myself with him, i see him more like an acquittance. we are both Nigerians, he is based in the UK while am in Nigeria. kinda think i should give him space because yesterday i send him a text that we should hook up on skype, after like 2hrs i called him to know why he wasn’t available. he then told me, he didn’t recieve the message (it showed delivered on my phone). i ended up hanging up on him. i was really angry, if he doesnt want me let him come out straight. why being an hypocrite.

  18. I think my best advice would be if/when you meet up, don’t try to make every detail of your date PERFECT.

    Spontaneity, imperfection, and surprises can make a date go even better than you ever could have imagined. Focus on being with your partner. What happens happens. Enjoy the time you spend, even if your date goes nothing like it was supposed to. Because once it’s over, who knows when you’ll see them again?

    Also, don’t be afraid to stay five extra minutes. Whatever it was that you were supposed to be doing can probably wait for five more minutes. And those five minutes, short as they can be, are worth it.

  19. My girlfriend is leaving for Cuba for six years and I’m afraid of what might happen to us, she’s an amazing person and she’s someone I see myself getting married to. A lot of people close to me said it won’t work. I still want to believe that it will.

  20. this could´t be more appropriate for me to read! i just started a LDR and i feel like i can´t take it anymore. It´s so nice to see there´s a lot of people in the same situation whit great results. We said we will be trying this for a year and we´ve been doing it for only two months, and it feels forever to think about ten more. I hope my sotry ends up like the ones i just read.

  21. Thanks for the tips, I will share these with my boyfriend! Im moving 1997 miles away in 42 days and were almost a year together now <3 We have already planned to see eachother during the summer(since we both have schooling) and if possible during the winter.. I really hope this relationship works out in the end <33 I love him too much for it to end at all(i dont mean, not anytime soon. I mean i dont want it to end AT ALL!)

  22. This is such a great article! Especially about the “Have an end point in mind”. I’m from Indonesia and my boyfriend is in Canada, met when we both students in Japan. And our current “end point” is actually a temporary visit. We’ve been doing this for 3 years now and we only meet like once or twice a year. It’s hella tough and we don’t have a permanent end point in mind (for now), but I somehow know that life would suck if he’s not in it.

  23. Long distances are tough but if two people trust, communicate, and have strong hearts than it can work!
    I am worried I have gone through a failed long distance relationship and am now in a relationship (8 months now) with my beautiful wonderful girlfriend and am going away for up to a year. It’s tough being away from your loved one and communication and trust is what we have.
    Stay strong, be yourself, and always remember how much you love and care about your partner.
    Great tips and good luck to everyone in a long distance relationship 🙂

  24. thank you for all the suggest and advice! i hope that our relationship will stay strong ang being inlove! 🙂


  25. These tips were really helpful. My boyfriend and I are doing a long distance relationship because he left to DC to start a new program. At first the separation was challenging, but I feel like I’m getting more used to it. I’m a little nervous though because, to be honest, this is kinda boring and not in a physical way. The skyping and phone calls go like this: “This is what I did today” “Oh sounds awesome. This is what I did today.” It’s cyclic and predictable and unsatisfying (although I am genuinely very proud of his accomplishments). Do you have any suggestions for activities that can be done together over long distance?

  26. A lot of people don’t know about screen sharing over Skype! It’s a perfect way to have a movie night long distance.

  27. I totally agree with the “stay busy” part! I also think it’s a good idea to surround yourself with friends and family. Skype is also a lifesaver ha ha! Thanks for the encouragement.

  28. I’m currently in LD relationship. Today is only third day of our LD relationship and we have about 6 years to go. We are separates by 13 hours timezone and 9000 miles away. The first day was the worst but then today, we’ve been doing fine. I know it has been only 3 days, but seeing the positive comments and knowing successful LD relationship stories, makes me believe that my LD relationship could workout and one day we could settle down in same country, city, place 🙂 Thank you for posted such a nice articles, I will follow your points and wish us luck!

  29. I met my boyfriend one year ago at a camp and we both came from different cities in different provinces. We became friends and after a few months of texting and skyline we started to fall for each other. It’s been a rough time and we’ve had our ups and downs but in the end it seems to have worked out. We saw each other for the second time just recently and it was the best week of our lives. But he is about to leave for a year long exchange trip to Taiwan, which is literally the other side of the world from me and it’s because of this that we decided to make our relationship official and he asked me to be his girlfriend. But it’s going to be hard and we will have almost no time to talk and I’m afraid we will miss each other too much to keep going. I’m glad to see that others have done similar things and succeeded and to anyone who says LDRs don’t work, they do. They just take time and test you and your relationship like nothing else.

  30. This article is really helpful,I’m a Nigerian she is American we met in china about 7 years ago but we dated only six months before she moved back home to the states last December ,I love her so much she is the most wonderful person i have ever met, i really missed her a lot but we talk like 10 times everyday via skype and whatsapp and we exchange pictures every other day We are planning to be together forever in about six months from now.This article is such a remedy and so happy to come by this, thanks …

  31. I am a indian 21 in a 5 month Ldr with a colombian girl she is 27 , we met on fb last year and talking since march on whatsapp much. The distance is much. Many time there is a feeling of insecurity. But till now everything is well she is much more caring, we restrict each other for doing stuffs we do not like . Looking forward for future but there is a big culture diffrence , language difference but our love is alive…
    We love each other much..
    Lets see what happen in future ..

  32. I’m an American that is currently in a relationship with my boyfriend of 6 months who is Canadian. Things have been terribly rough because of the parent-situation. Young kids aren’t taken seriously with long distance relationships, but I guess many don’t understand that it’s not as easy as it seems. I think the hardest part as to being into a long distance relationship is the commitment, and trust. This helped so much, and is going to keep me focused. No more negativity, I’ll just look forward to what is going to happen soon. Planning on meeting next summer with him. Thanks so much!

  33. This really helped me! I have been recently very upset after not being able to see my boyfriend for awhile! I just have to remeber your advice to keep busy. That is what I always fail at.

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