Long-distance dating is no longer an anomaly.
Distance in a romantic relationship may actually improve a couple's communication and sense of optimism.
From color-changing lamps to long-distance sex toys, long-distance dating doesn't have to be boring.
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity found itself in a bizarre place. Everyone became aware of their dependence upon one another and the desire to be near other humans grew expeditiously — despite being advised to isolate. As difficult as this time was, though, many found that they suddenly had free time to dedicate to dating. With much of the world shut down, though, there wasn't exactly the liberty to go out and meet people. All these circumstances combined led many people to explore long-distance dating.
One of the most exciting aspects of dating someone is that butterfly-inducing beginning stage — when every single text or call makes your heart skip a beat. Long–distance dating prolongs this thrilling, mysterious honeymoon and gives the time and space for interest to grow. When you're given no choice but to communicate at a distance, there is less pressure, and often less discomfort when discussing awkward but important topics like sexual preferences and boundaries.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Nearly everyone in your close circle is going to have opinions about your long-distance relationship (LDR). Some opinions will be positive and some negative, but what do the experts say when it comes to LDRs?
Contrary to popular belief, remote romances may increase one's sense of optimism within a relationship. Long-distance set-ups compel couples to address their needs, their goals, and their expectations early on, rather than facing them when push comes to shove. This saves a lot of heartache in the long run.
As of October 2022, an estimated 14 million people are in long-distance relationships — 3.75 million of which are married couples. This fact does more than just support the theory that absence makes the heart grow fonder; it proves that as needy as human beings are, the desire for freedom and space still exists.
Experts have determined that there are, of course, right and wrong ways to engage in love at a distance. Most people are quite picky when it comes to dating and sexual desires, and in the aftermath of the increased social isolation brought by the pandemic, it's harder than ever to know what you're looking for.
The Early Stages of Dating Long Distance
In the early stages of an LDR, perhaps even before you and your partner are apart, it’s normal to feel apprehension or dread. That often happens when a major life change occurs and a long-distance love story is no different. The awareness of your distance may come immediately, or be more delayed, but don't be surprised if you start to feel some apprehension.
Oftentimes when introduced to the possibility of an LDR, there’s the worry that once your physical connection goes away, your emotional connection follows. Recognize this worry for what it is — just a worry. Feelings are not necessarily based on proximity.
Once you're past these initial anxieties, there’s the potential for optimism. There's a sense of accomplishment in overcoming the first few weeks of separation, and rightfully so! When you're feeling comfortable and mature and capable, be aware that another stage of anxiety typically kicks in.
Once your boundaries are set, your schedules are synced, and both partners are settled into the relationship, a new wave of anxiety is brought upon entirely by one's imagination. This state is typically referred to as “settled-in stress.”
When you've established your relationship as long-distance, when you've bragged about how trusting you both are, this is often when a healthy but uncomfortable amount of jealousy comes in. It’s completely normal to feel left out when your partner is having fun without you, and it’s unfortunately quite typical to create worst-case scenarios surrounding what your partner is doing when they're not in contact with you.
It's at this point that further communication may be needed to quell any creatively presumptuous insecurities one might have conjured up, and to remind one another why your love makes the distance worth it.
Tips for Maintaining Success
After you've become committed and comfortable in your ideal long-distance relationship, how do you go about maintaining it?
Establishing your wants and needs in any relationship is important, but these things are often learned through trial and error. For this reason, long-distance dating tends to be more successful for couples who spend a significant amount of physical time together, both romantically and intimately. In other words, they've already had the chance to work through some of those trials and errors without that extra factor of the distance between them.
It’s also worth noting that there is no magical formula for a successful LDR. It’s perfectly fine to feel frustrated or defeated at any point, however, there are a few tried-and-true tips to ensure you are putting your best foot forward in your relationship.
From the beginning, it’s important to try to gauge your expectations for your partner and yourself.
When you've spent time apart from your significant other, it's easy to build up your reunion to the highest, most fantastic degree. Remember that every long-awaited meeting won't be filled with sexcapades and hedonism. There will (probably) not be a chorus of angels singing when you meet at the airport.
Try your best to not put your partner on a pedestal. Set realistic goals and make tangible plans with one another to prevent either partner from suffering feelings of inadequacy or resentment.
Take pleasure in the mundane, even boring, everyday activities that you and your partner do. What some couples may take for granted — grocery shopping, driving together, sitting on the same couch — is potentially momentous and quite special for an LDR couple. Learn to cherish these moments and celebrate every small, humdrum victory.
Maintaining a positive outlook and attitude is incredibly beneficial in every kind of relationship, both face-to-face and long-distance. If you're able to find the joy in every moment you spend together, whether it be in-person or over FaceTime, that happiness is more likely to carry over into the moments when you're not together.
Communication Is Key
One of the most important factors, if not the most important factor, in maintaining a long-distance relationship is steady communication.
The key here is steady, not incessant communication. Some long-distance couples have stated that overcommunication is a vibe killer and that the constant need to check in quickly becomes overwhelming and exhausting. Experienced couples note the importance of sharing a similar communication style, in general. If your partner requires minute-by-minute updates, it's going to get really old really fast. Establishing expectations for communication frequency leaves less room for confusion, distrust, or hurt.
Both regularly scheduled and unscheduled chats are necessary for a long-distance couple, not just to keep up communication but to maintain contentment. Discuss important topics like finances, especially when planning a visit, but it is equally important to talk about less-than-crucial topics. Finding new subjects to discuss is an exciting, creative way of keeping things fresh and fun. Sharing moments from your day, filling your partner in on the latest office gossip, or exploring new areas of discussion keeps things interesting.
If you can't be together physically, letting your partner know that you're there for them emotionally is the root of a healthy, happy relationship. Only you know what’s best for you, and only your partner knows what's best for them: Communicating these needs is the best way to ensure no one is left in the dark.
When it comes down to it, most dating experts and therapists say the key to a lasting relationship lies in making your partner feel heard above all else.
Connecting In More Ways Than One
Thanks to technology, long-distance couples no longer have to rely on the Pony Express to communicate with each other. There are dozens of options for staying connected. Calling and FaceTiming are always more meaningful than texting or emailing, but as long as you are consistently keeping in contact, that is what matters.
Along with video calling, pick one or two of these apps for you and your sweetie to stay connected:
TouchNote allows couples to send cute, personalized digital postcards to one another.
Between offers a more secure, secretive means of communicating — perfect for sending those spicy voice notes, long videos, and love letters.
MyLove tracks how long you've been together and keeps note of important dates and anniversaries.
Rave and Kast allow couples to watch movies or Youtube videos at the same time.
Desire lets couples engage with one another through games. There are categories like role play, dress code, and sexy truth or dare.
There are also several new gadgets made with LDR couples in mind:
FriendLamps are a sweet and unique way to let your partner know that you're thinking of them. You change the color or intensity of your lamp and it will also change your partner's from across the globe.
Totwoo offers touch bracelets that light up and vibrate at the intentional touch of your partner, no matter how far.
The HB Ring allows you to feel the heartbeat of your partner in real time.
The Apple Watch and the LDR Watch by Kitmen Keung are ideal for couples in different time zones, ensuring that no one ever misses virtual date night again.
Lovense designs mind-blowing sex toys specifically for LDR couples looking for a whole lot of spice.
Get To Know The LDR Community
Long-distance dating can be extremely frustrating, but also lonely at times. Next time you're logged in to talk to your boo, consider checking out some of the forums and sites for LDRs. It's immensely encouraging to know that you and your partner are not alone in your situation.
While long-distance dating used to be an anomaly, it’s now quite common, and there is an entire community of LDR couples to turn to for advice. The r/LongDistance and r/LDR subreddits on Reddit are very insightful. They’re full of tips, tricks, and charming stories that not only inform but also encourage. You'll learn pretty quickly that your trials and tribulations have likely been suffered through and conquered before.
Keep in mind that when perusing the internet about LDRs you'll likely come across some wild and troubling opinions. There's everything from how the secret to keeping a partner is just to keep them horny, to discouraging statistics about how half of all LDRs end after four months. Remember: One person's story on the internet is not your story. Dating anyone anywhere is full of unprecedented challenges, and unexpected delights.
At the very least, these internet communities are proof that LDRs are not bound to statistics, horror stories, and dissatisfaction.
The Reality of Remote Romances
Dating long-distance may cause a change in your day-to-day habits, as well as heighten those natural desires from an intimate relationship. Growing pains are a part of any relationship and when you throw distance into the equation, these changes may occur seamlessly, or they might cause some serious bumps. Leave some room for your perfect long-distance setup to evolve!
Patience is the secret to any successful relationship, but if you and your partner are physically distant, patience and a healthy sense of urgency become much more difficult to balance. Keep an open mind with your partner, try to silence that insecure voice in your head, and establish a baseline of trust. There is no progress, no intimacy, and no fun to be had — together, or at a distance — if you and your partner cannot trust each other.
There are always reasons to stress, but there are always reasons to keep going, as well. Long-distance relationships may have their obstacles, but true, pure, heart-thumping, hand-sweating love is worth it. Don't let distance get in the way of your happily ever after!