Earlier this year I wrote a post with five tips for surviving a long-distance relationship and interestingly enough, Google Analytics says a lot of people like it. Since this is my our anniversary week-yes, we are celebrating all week-I thought I’d revisit how we got here and offer some more tips for those of you who are still working on your LDR.

As anyone who has ever been in love with someone who is more than a quick trip away will tell you, long distance relationships suck. It is amplified when your special someone lives in another time zone or if you are still in that “getting to know you” phase when you are forced apart.

All that aside, international LDRs can work and most of my expat friends have experienced separation from their significant other at some point during their relationships … and they all worked out just fine. If you are currently in an international long distance relationship, here are 10 tips to help your relationship survive.

1. Set Rules
Worried about being a nag if you “set rules” for your relationship? Think again. In his book, Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide, Dr. Gregory Guldner cites a study that claims 70% of LDR couples who don’t set rules end their relationship within six months.

2. Be on the Same Page Regarding Dating
Along that same line, make sure you and your honey are on the same page, especially when it comes to dating other people. My husband and I didn’t, but if you do, be sure to communicate openly and honestly when, and if, one of you wants to change that rule.

3. Set Times and Dates
I know it sounds like I’m obsessing over these rules, but knowing when you will hear from each other is vital for an LDR. My husband and I had one “set” time each day when he’d call me, so we both knew when we’d chat and had something to look forward to during our day.

4. Communicate Daily
Since the inception of Skype, communicating with your long distance lover is easier than ever. We didn’t have that luxury but as I mentioned, we still spoke every day. We had that one “set” phone call, then we’d call each other another one or two times throughout the day just to check in. Was it expensive? Yea … but not as bad as you’d think and now that you have Skype, you can forget about your pennies and centesimi and focus on your relationship.

5. Trust Each Other
I know, I know … easier said than done, right, but while trusting your partner is important for every relationship, it is crucial to the success of a LDR. There is no way you are going to know what he’s doing 24/7 and if he wants to stray, he certainly has the means, motive and opportunity. In fact, my husband came in while I was working on this post and I asked him for some input. His #1 tip … trust each other.

6. Share Your Insecurities
Oh, it is bound to come up at some point … he doesn’t answer the phone when you call, she can’t chat because of a work meeting and that nagging feeling is making you crazy. If you find you are constantly insecure and having “the talk” every few days, then you might have other issues you need to work on. However, if you are generally secure and something comes up that upsets you, address it. It could be something as simple as him calling later than normal because he wants to finish his new favorite TV show before he calls. Which brings me to my next point …

7. Don’t Create Drama
It’s hard not to wonder why your perfectly punctual partner doesn’t call when he says he will. You might envision him out with the imaginary hottie who moved in next door or picture him scoping the dance floor for a new fling. But don’t let your mind go there. You can’t do anything about it anyway and worrying yourself-or smothering him-will only damage your relationship and your self-esteem. Remember Tip #6 and discuss it.

8. Keep your Perspective
Richard and Kristine Carlson will tell you Not to Sweat the Small Stuffand its all small stuff, they say. But in a LDR, the smallest things seem more important. However, keep your perspective. That one phone call can seem more important than it is because it is your one chance to talk that day but if you were in a normal, non-LDR, you wouldn’t lose it if you missed your boyfriend’s phone call.

9. Commit
All relationships take time to grow so depending on where you are in your relationship when it turns into a LDR, you may or may not want to commit right away. However, treat your LDR with the same patience and respect as you would a non-long distance relationship. At some point, you should both want to commit. If you don’t see yourself with this person 10 years down the road, then you are creating unneeded heartache for yourself and your far-flung friend.

10. Reflect
Speaking of committing, be sure you know who you are committing to. While flying off to Paris to meet your boyfriend will create a whirlwind effect that might seem exotic, don’t get caught up in the magic. It is easy to fall in love with the image of who someone might be, but make sure you are actually in love with that person as as you progress down the LDR trail

I know a lot of you have had a long distance relationship with your partner and lived to tell about it. What other tips would you offer?

Traveling to southern Italy? Why not get coached on when and where to go by someone who lives there?

Photos: Sara Hu via Flickr

25 Responses
  1. Cherrye, cara, I agree with the premise that LDRs can work and you and I are living proof. But I only agree with #10. Setting “rules” I think leads to doom whether you are in the same city or different countries. Any relationship can only survive on #5 no matter how many psycho-babblers write books with tips! 🙂

    🙂 Well, all relationships are different, but I think most of them, whether they are LDR or more traditional have “rules,” whether you state them or not. It gets to a point in most relationships where you expect monogamy, expect to see the other person, expect them to put you before their basketball game, etc … . These are all “rules” … maybe I shoulda used another word. 😉 But yes, without #5 … what’s the point?

  2. Monica

    hey ladies, I think one of the reasons me and my fiance are doing well with our longdistance relationship is because we communicate though out the whole day. We use magicjack when he is home and skype to see each other and http://www.local011.com for cheap international calls. They offer the best prices… try these three methods and happy relations.


  3. Emma

    My partner is a contractor and works away from home 95% of the year. We are usually pretty clear about things…speak same time every day, we have a very open relationship and great communication. Unfortunately, his work has taken him to the desert for 6 weeks of which I can only speak with him once/twice per week. It has become so much more strenuous since he is gone, as I am having a lot of trouble with my job + adding study on top and the stress builds up. It is getting me down and the pain is immense. Any advice for surviving without the communication?

    1. Kathleen

      @Emma, Maybe you could write each other notes– he could take his with him on the trip and leave his with you at home. Then throughout the time you’re apart, you could open the notes once a day or as needed. It’d be something to look forward to.

  4. Nikki

    My advice plays off of 10…When you are together, make sure you take time to do those normal everyday things together. It’s inevitable that for one or the other of you this is going to mean a “vacation”…but I believe that as fun and special those vacation type activities are…(a trip to the beach, touristy things in the city)… the day to day couple things are equally as special and important. Cook and clean together, go for walks after dinner, veg out in front of the TV and watch a movie…these times you take will definitely show you if this is just a very fun fling (not that this is a bad thing) or if this person is someone you could possibly see yourself with in the future.

  5. Shayna

    ok. so me and my fiance have a problem. we havn’t been together long. about 2 months. and we love eachother dearly. now he is gettnig based in korea for a year. i might be preagnant. and we decided to get married feb. 18th, 2012. before he leaves in march. its only a year. and we think it;s going to fly by. but we are worried 1. if we can handle it. 2. if he is gonna miss the birth of his first kid, and 3. the price of plane tickets to come home on leave. he is in the army. and plans to renlist before he goes to korea, cus that might be the only chance he has of staying here in new york

  6. Kuhu

    I want to ask a simple question to the writer of this article that, what if the parents of your lover, creat problems btween the two deliberately. Do you have any tips apart from advising to have a clear discussion with the boyfriend. I am tired of being ignored due to his parents. Everyday one or the other will creat a mess and involve my boyfriend into that and take away my time, care and love for the sake of their profit. Please tell me the solution to it. Of course I am also in a LDR. Hoping for your positive reply 🙂

  7. That is tough, Kuku. We were lucky that our family on both sides was very supportive of our relationship. Communication is key to any relationship, though, so I would advise you to have a candid discussion with your boyfriend. Don’t put him on the defense by attacking his family or even having the discussion when you are mad, but rather point out how you see things and ask him to help you work out a solution so everyone is happy.

  8. kuhu

    @Cherrye at My Bella Vita,

    Yeah, I am doing the same everyday. Now we have discussed on that issue so much that, he does not even want to listen anything. Right now I am passing through a very bad time. I have started to live happily without giving pressure on my mind that why everything is not so simple and easy in life. I have started taking up many of my hobbies as my daily routine and in fact I am feeling better. My boyfriend is very straight forward person and he loves me so much. But you know dear, sometimes very good persons also commit mistakes and due to their ego, they do not want to accept their faults. This same thing also happens with me time and again. Anyway, I am so tensed that I wanted to share my feelings with somebody. Thanks for your time and care. Take care.

  9. Tasha

    i need advice, i am in a LDR and we communicate everyday but sometimes we dont have something to talk about, any suggestions

  10. Nafisa

    I am in long distance relationship, i married my partner and love him a lot the problem is that he is from pakistan and im from the uk. Its reallly hard living apart but we have to so i can apply for his visa. Its really fustrating because i missss him soooo much and the time zone is different, its very expensive to talk and he doesnt have skype.

  11. Donna

    I find that long distance relationships take a lot of energy. I find that no matter how much you love the person and trust the person there is always cause for trouble. Even if you communicate, trust, and are honest sometimes consequences happen that the person can’t take back and that my dear is what kills the relationship.

  12. Jelly

    Thanks for this list. I have been reading articles about how to make LDR survive, and this seems to be the most helpful. My boyfriend is from the US and Im from the Philippines, we have 12hours time difference but I always try to communicate with him. I try not to be the one to text or call all the time because i don’t want to be too controlling. I trust him with whatever he is doing and I care less about the drama side. I always try to keep him happy with sweet words and letting him know I’m always here even though were 8542 miles away from each other. visiting is the problem because he has to save money and i can’t just go back to the US because as we all know, it is hard to obtain a US visa. thanks to this article, i will talk to him about this and discuss on how we are gonna make our relationship work. I hope you post more about this topic.

  13. natalia

    So i need help…i have been with my boyfriend for three years now…i used to live in the states but i moved to canada. im still waiting for my citizenship, and i have not been able to get a visa to fly back…all this time weve been away, with ups and downs. we tried many times to break up and move on but we just couldnt. we are young, only 21…many say theres a life ahead of us, and too much to live, too many ppl to meet, but we are not the type of person who goes out clubbing and dates a lot of ppl. he has come to visit a couple of times, but with work and studies is hard to find the time…n money doesnt grow on trees either. I told him to move here and study, while living on campus…he can always get a loan. That way we can be together. It took us a while to come to that decision, now he chickened out and he said hes too afraid that he will be alone with no job, no support from his family, and that maybe just maybe things between us wont work out. Thats not in my head, we have even talked about marriage. i want to be with him, i love him, but i dont know what to do. I get his point, but if he stays, whats gonna happen? how can we make it work? plsss help… i have this thing on my chest that has my mood down

  14. kellie

    Okay I really need some advice!!!PLEASE!! Okay so.I am dating this guy and we have been dating for 7mts and we ha e known eachother for a year. We are now engaged but I ha e some problems that could possibly kill our relationship I feel
    So lately his phone has been cut off for two Weeks. He has waited two days to call me amd then when he does call he will call around 3 n the morning. If he does.call at a decent hour he talks to everyone in his background or stays on the phonw for only 10 min. this has happened multiple times and everytime I bring it up we get in ig fights. He says he doesn’t like to ask to use other ppls phone. N everytime he says he is going to come and visit me he never comes or he keeps saying next week next week. I tell him I feel unimportant amd I feel like he doesn’t love me anymore. I trust him but should I?!?! I don’t know what to do!!! I love him so much. He claims he is still learning relationships but it isn’t hard to make someone feel special just follow your heart right. We have wonderful communication whdn it come to expressing ourselves but he never seems to get the fact that I feel unloved. WHAT DO I DO?!?! Should I leave or keep the faith and hope for the best? Is he cheating,.does he love.me? I am soo condused and hurt. I’m afraid to lose him. I need a superman .ot a superhoe

  15. Kittencat

    Hi! I think your articles (read them both) are very helpful. I was just wondering if you could elaborate on setting rules in #1. I’m in a pickle as my SO and I lived together but I moved half the world away after a year of doing that because of reasons with my visa. We’ve been together for 20 months and he’s helped me with so much. I love him dearly and care for him but the calls and communication has been lacking in a sense (to me, not to him apparently as he likes his space). I’m dealing with the move pretty badly as I was torn away from a place I used to call home and he thinks I depend on him too much. It’s only been 6-7 weeks since we’ve been together. I really do want to make this work without being a nag but don’t know how to set the rules and be lenient with it to compromise my needs with his. Please help! Thank you very much 🙂

  16. angelrose

    me and my fiancee have been togethr for 4yrs,this is the first time he has to work away and its been 10months already,He is in Brunei and the network system is so terrible and something we both cant get thru to eachother for days.then when we finaly get thru he wil start naging me and accusing me of cheating,i love him so much and will never do such a thing to him but since he is accusing me all the time am also starting to fink maybe he is doing something wrong der and so he thinks am doing the same.this isnt easy at all

  17. Tom

    Now i am in LDR with my gf. So. What can i say?
    Its hard, sometimes its very hard cause i am starding to think about cheating. The main is to take emotions off your heart and be optimistic about the future relationship.

    Now its clear that most importand in LDR is to set the end date of LDR, because if it will take more than one year I think it has no future. Life goes on !!! I think u can try LDR one year not more.

    But after that its very importand to be togother again.

  18. @Kellie, I experienced similar situation with my ex boyfriend. We dated for about 8mnths and the rest was hell thru the 1yr anniverssary before I broke it off. My ex was behaving the same way. I think you need to reconsider your relationship.My ex made every excuse to not come and visit. And I found out from one of his chat with a mutual friend (well, he didn’t know I was best friend with the guy he was talking to; childhood friend). He wasn’t that into me.We were in 1 hr time zone difference. Now I am happily in a longer distance relationship, 6 hr time zone difference and he treats me way better than my ex ever did.
    I used make excuses for my ex as to why he wasn’t romantic and loving as I wanted.His phone was cut off at one point for weeks, he would come on skype but never respond to my msg…then later make excuses.It is important for the guy to make you feel his presence not his absence while you are apart. Do your homework (detective work..lol)and find out the deal. I hate to waste my time and I hate for anybody in love to hate their time on someone who was never in love with them..Good luck

  19. Sparky

    Hey. I have been with my boyfriend for over 5 years now & nearly 2 years of our relationship has been a
    Long distance relationship as he moved to Africa. I have flown out to see him 3 times already but can’t be doing this anymore as I found out that I am pregnant & would be at risk losing my job
    If I go again. I want to make this LDR work but he’s not very reliable & never has been. He loses his phone a lot & won’t get a new One until after a week or longer so won’t get hold of me during that time. All I won’t is for him to be In contact with me everyday but he never has been. It is stressing me out & making out LDR hard. I don’t no what to do. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  20. 5 Ways To Keep Your Relationship Going When You Are On A Trip

    […] How to survive a long-distance relationship: Tips and Tricks. Posted: July 12, 2013 | Author: Ditz Savant | Filed under: Epiphanies | Tags: boyfriend, Facebook, girlfriend, Indiana, interview, Long-distance relationship, maine, New England, Q&A … 10 Long Distance Relationship Tips | My Bella Vita Travel […]

Leave a Reply