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Making A Long Distance Relationship Work

long distance relationship

In the realm of relationships, long-distance love often gets a bad rap. It’s pegged as harder, laden with more obstacles, and sometimes deemed doomed from the start. Yet, those who’ve navigated these waters know a different truth: Long-distance relationships (LDRs) can flourish with a unique depth and richness, provided they’re nurtured with intention and care. As a relationship counselor, I’ve witnessed both the triumphs and challenges of LDRs. The essence of making them work lies not just in grand gestures but in the nuanced, everyday efforts that bridge the miles.

In today’s blog we’ll discuss the reality of long distance, what you can expect, what to watch out for, what strengthens and what kills long distance relationships. Let’s dig in.


What Percentage Of Long-Distance Relationships Work?

A question that looms large in the minds of many is about the success rate of LDRs.  While data suggests a mixed bag, with some studies pointing to a roughly 50/50 success rate, the essence of an LDR’s longevity lies in the mutual commitment to making it work. The effort, creativity, and resilience poured into the relationship can often overcome the hurdles that distance places in your path. If both partners are committed to making a long-distance relationship work, it can work! 

The truth is, all relationships require work and compromise to maintain. LDRs just tend to require more. 


How To Strengthen A Long Distance Relationship

The Importance of Communication

At the heart of every relationship lies communication, yet in LDRs, its role is paramount. The physical absence necessitates a more concerted effort in maintaining emotional closeness. A common pitfall that long-distance relationships suffer is the discrepancy in communication needs and styles. It’s crucial to establish early on how often and through what modes you’ll connect.  This doesn’t mean establishing rigid schedules without flexibility, but rather a mutual understanding that accommodates both partners’ needs and lifestyles. Be ready to adjust on the fly, as you learn what does and doesn’t work! 

Beyond just quantity of communication, quality of communication is paramount. Being truly honest with your partner will be more important than ever during periods of long distance. When we’re together, physical intimacy can make us feel connected, and help smooth over difficult feelings. Your long-distance relationship still needs intimacy, and honesty and vulnerability in communication can be a powerful way to connect. If every conversation focuses around “how was your day”, you may struggle to find things to talk about. Try sharing stories about your childhood, or asking questions to learn more about who your partner is, and who they’ve been.


Independence: The Unsung Hero of LDRs

A vital, yet often overlooked, component of thriving in an LDR is fostering independence. The paradox of feeling more connected by cultivating a personal sense of self may seem counterintuitive, but it’s worked for countless couples. Resist the urge to worry, obsess, or fixate on the phone when you’re waiting for a text back. Keep living your life where you are, in the moment—with the added bonus of a partner far away. Engaging with your interests, maintaining social connections, and embracing personal growth will not only enrich your life but bring fresh energy and perspectives into your relationship.


Making Every Moment Count

In the absence of physical proximity, making the most of the time you do share starts to feel crucial. You may feel pressure to make every moment count, which, conversely, may take you out of the moment! Try to relax and just enjoy the time you have together. Things don’t have to be perfect. Whether it’s a nightly phone call or a coveted visit, sometimes the best moments of intimacy are borne out of boredom. Allow yourself to strike a balance between meaningful conversation and sharing the mundane details of daily life, and give yourselves permission to goof off together. 


Nurturing Intimacy from Afar

Intimacy in LDRs transcends physical boundaries, morphing into a multifaceted connection that includes emotional, intellectual, and digital dimensions. A meme that’s relevant to your partner in the middle of the day can be a low-key reminder you are thinking of them. A deeply personal letter or quick postcard can feel like a lifeline. You can surprise them with flowers, or a gift in the mail. Make sure you are mindful of your partner’s reaction so that you don’t overwhelm or over communicate, but these seemingly insignificant exchanges can maintain a feeling of intimacy across great distances. 

Modern technology offers a plethora of ways to share experiences, from watching movies simultaneously to taking virtual walks together. Engaging in shared hobbies or learning something new together can also fortify your connection, providing common ground that transcends physical distance. Exploring creative ways to connect can deepen your bond, making the heart grow fonder with every shared dream and meme.


long distance relationship ideas


What Kills Long-Distance Relationships

Navigating a long-distance relationship (LDR) requires not only a deep commitment to your partner but also a keen awareness of the pitfalls that can destabilize the balance. Unlike relationships where partners share physical proximity, LDRs demand an extra layer of intentionality and mindfulness to avoid behaviors that could weaken the bonds you’ve worked hard to forge.

One of the most common pitfalls in LDRs is the tendency for excessive checking up on your partner. While it’s natural to desire reassurance and feel connected, overstepping boundaries into constant surveillance can breed resentment and diminish trust. This behavior often stems from insecurities or fears of infidelity, but ironically, it can push your partner away, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of distance and detachment.

On the other hand, failing to involve your partner in the tapestry of your daily life can create an emotional chasm between you. Simple things like sharing anecdotes from your day, discussing minor triumphs or frustrations, and seeking your partner’s input on decisions help to cultivate a shared life, even across miles. Neglecting these points of connection can make your partner feel more like an outsider than a significant other, undermining the sense of partnership that’s crucial for an LDR’s survival.

Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of maintaining a healthy LDR is handling conflict. The fear of rocking the boat, especially when you can’t resolve tensions face-to-face, might tempt you to brush issues under the rug. However, avoiding conflict only allows unresolved issues to fester, leading to greater dissonance and emotional distance. Open, honest communication about your feelings, delivered with kindness and respect, is essential. It’s important to remember that conflict, when managed constructively, can strengthen your relationship by improving understanding and fostering emotional intimacy.


The Bottom Line

Making a long-distance relationship work is a testament to the strength, commitment, and creativity of those involved. It requires a blend of patience, communication, and trust, coupled with a willingness to embrace the unique challenges and opportunities it presents. Distance might be an obstacle, but for many, it’s a crucible that forges a deeper, more enduring connection.

The narrative that LDRs are fated to fail is a myth ripe for debunking. With the right approach, they can blossom into a profound source of love, growth, and connection. So, to those embarking on or navigating the journey of long-distance love, remember: the distance between you is just a test, proving that true love not only endures but thrives, across any distance.



Robb Kornoelje is the owner of The Truism Center, a relationship enthusiast, and the creator of the “30-Day Relationship Challenge.” This 30-day, fully online email course offers gentle guidance to identify behaviors causing trouble, find ease with emotions, and enhance self-awareness. With a focus on stress-free communication, the challenge encourages a stronger connection with others, nurturing compassion, and fostering forgiveness. Join Robb on this journey to improve the fabric of your relationships—one day at a time.