It's no secret that being in a long distance relationship can be hard friggin work. Being apart for long periods of time can easily break a relationship, but it's not impossible for a healthy relationship to thrive when you're living miles away from your partner.
We asked a relationship therapist for some expert advice on how to actually survive a long distance relationship. And good news: it is possible.
In a long distance relationship, trust is vital
Relationship therapist, Aoife Drury, says "trust is a necessity to any healthy relationship." She adds, "When entering into, or maintaining a long-distant relationship, issues around trust can be magnified." Aoife says before entering into a long distance relationship it's important to "understand the difficulties you will face and talk about them with your partner."
Aoife says this doesn't mean you have to talk 24/7, it's about the quality of your communication. "Open and honest communication is vital so as to maintain an understanding of what is happening for you as individuals. Long distance means having to work even harder." And most importantly, "Remember tone and attitude can be misread in texts."
To avoid misunderstandings, Aoife says you need to ensure you're communicating effectively. "Wearing your heart on your sleeve (no head games!), articulating your needs and being specific about them, eradicating blame (try using ‘I’ statements)", for example.
"Celebrating milestones is a great way to be positive in your relationship," she says. "Revelling in each other’s achievements - from personal ones like getting a new job, to relational ones - like when you first kissed or monthly anniversaries" allow you to "keep positive energy flowing."
She says this is important as it not only reminds your partner they're a priority to you, but it also shows you remember what's important to them.
Be creative and thoughtful
Aoife suggests you think of new ways to surprise your partner. "Research shops local to them or activities they may enjoy. Then see if you can buy them a voucher or get an item delivered. Also don’t discount snail-mail! Use the old-fashioned approach of writing love letters."
Do things together
Aoife says it's important to remember that being far away from each other doesn't necessarily mean you can't share experiences. "Video call each other while you both go for a walk - describe what you can smell, see or hear. Cook the same meals together. Read the same books or watch a TV show you both like then create time to chat about it."
Use technology to your advantage
Long distance relationships are easier now than they've ever been, thanks to technology. Aoife says, "With this in mind long distance relationship quality does not have to be significantly different from ones close by."