Ever get a look of pity when you say you’re in a long distance relationship?

Whether it’s 500 miles or 5,000 miles, 2 months or 2 years, couples often find long distance relationships (LDRs) frustrating to maintain. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to make your long distance relationship work.

What Makes Long Distance so Much Harder?

Most people will say that a majority of long distance couples end in breakups. First of all, the majority of all couples break up – 75% of straight unmarried couples will break up in the first year of dating.

The higher chances of breakup in long distance relationships are a myth.

And LDRs have a better chance than that. A study of over 1 million data points by BedBible shows that 40% of all LDRs will end in a break up, but 75% of engaged couples have been in a LDR at some point.  Seems like the higher chances of breakup in long distance relationships are a myth. However, there are still challenges to LDRs.

Long distance relationships limit physical intimacy, opportunities for showing affection, and the ability to communicate face to face with one’s partner. These limitations make it near-impossible to keep a relationship on track — without some work.

By addressing the sources of long-distance tension, separated couples can build stronger relationships than their same-space counterparts.

Top 5 Strategies from LDR Survivors

Don’t Freeze Your Life: Set Boundaries

One of the biggest mistakes new long distance couples make is stopping their lives to focus on each other. One example is refusing invitations from friends, just to talk to each other.

Relationships are about balance, and it’s both healthy and attractive to maintain parts of your life that are just yours. Remember that you and your partner fell for each other when you were out living your own lives – preserving your personal identity may help preserve your long distance connection.

Maintain Understanding and Trust: Clarity is Key

Since all your communication will take place through texting or calling, pay extra attention to clear wording and the nonverbal cues you give.

We all know the difference between “Hey!” and “Hey.” but sometimes don’t think of other subtle implications in our texts. Tone isn’t abundantly clear over text, and without in-person reassurance, common phrases can be misconstrued. To avoid miscommunications, be clear about how you feel and what you expect between each other. Don’t be afraid to over-clarify until you’re sure you’ve reached an understanding.

Preserving your personal identity may help preserve your long distance connection.

Lack of trust in a regular relationship is challenging enough, and it can seem impossible for long distance. Since you can’t “check up” on them all the time, it’s important for you to have a solid foundation of trust and respect for each other. This is another reason to prioritize communication and to frequently check that you’re on the same page.

Shrink The Distance

Sometimes you don’t need words or information from your partner, but miss other aspects of their presence. Facetime, Skype, and texting all let couples communicate across distance, but they don’t solve the harder part of the problem: their scent, their warmth, or the space they take up in bed may be even more sorely missing than their words.

Consider carrying significant items such as a piece of clothing or a picture that reminds you of your partner.  Smelling scented items or perfume that they usually wear can also trigger especially strong feelings of connection. This will help you feel more bonded to each other, physically, while you are apart.

Leave Time For Togetherness

Planning a visit isn’t the magic answer, but planning to make the most of a visit is. Reduce distractions during your visit by first making sure you’ve tackled unanswered emails or urgent projects – leaving items on your to-do list before visiting steals time and positive energy from your reunion.

Also think about your plan for during the visit. Long distance couples tend to over-plan, trying to maximize their fun together. Do schedule some activities to share together, but beware – rushing around may take away from intimate time together. Leave time to just enjoy each other’s company, too.

Join Together Against Judgement

Talk to your partner about the negative misconceptions about long distance. Yes, it will challenge your relationship. But being apart will also make you stronger as a couple and as individuals! You can beat the stereotype threat together!

There Is Hope

Despite popular wisdom, long distance couples aren’t doomed. In fact, couples in long distance relationships reported the same amount of satisfaction in their relationships as other couples. Another study at Cornell University stated that long distance relationships reported better communication with their partner, probably because it was a necessity.

So, whether you’re a whole continent or just a few cities away, have faith in yourselves – your effort during the hard parts will pay off in the long run. Especially by making sure your own emotional needs are met, you can make your long distance relationship work!

It can also be helpful just to vent about what’s going on with your long distance partner. Supportiv is an anonymous, 24/7, nonjudgemental place to get things off your chest.

Just enter what’s on your mind, and talk to people going through similar struggles.