Ten Tips for a Successful Long-Distance Relationship (Including Friendships!)

Between my frequent travels and my tendency to fall in love with people from other cities, I’ve become an expert on making long distance relationships work. So, I thought I’d combine the knowledge I’ve learned through my experiences here for you in this useful list.

These tips don’t have to just be limited to romantic relationships, they’re also helpful ways to stay connected with friends who live far away!

10 Tips for

1. Share a Calendar

My best friend and I have a “Befri Bonzanza” calendar where we put in all the plans we have to hang out, or big events in the other person’s life that we should know about. For example, I’m visiting her in San Francisco right now and staying for a week. So, we marked all of our get togethers and important events I shouldn’t miss in a calendar. That helped me remember when I had plans to hang out with her and when I could make plans to have business meetings or hang with other friends.

We marked all our important get togethers for the week (hmm, they're all happy hours... we are lushes) and an important event I shouldn't miss (her husband's talk).

We marked all our important get togethers for the week (hmm, they’re all happy hours… we are lushes) and an important event I shouldn’t miss (her husband’s talk).

I should say, however, that my partner is against a shared calendar. It makes her feel like we are business associates in an office, not lovers in a relationship. She wants flexibility, hates the formality of a set time on a calendar, and in general gets frustrated when I want to (over) plan things, especially because it’s usually my schedule that changes at the last minute, not hers.

I, however, am a total planner, so calendars help me find a path in a busy day and make me less nervous that I’ll miss something important. Along with the usual work stuff, my calendar is chock full of reminders like “M’s brother died a week from today – send her a card” and “Alex is hiking today, give her space but check in around 5pm to make sure she wasn’t eaten by a Mountain Lion.”

Your brain may be able to remember it all, but when you’re juggling work and travel like I am, it’s hard to keep all the balls in the air. Sharing a calendar with a friend or lover, or inviting them to an event which puts it on their calendar, is an easy way to make sure you don’t forget something and hurt someone’s feelings.

Google calendars are my favorite because they are free and an easy way to set up a shared calendar. It also syncs with any smart phone, computer or similar device. But you can definitely have a shared physical calendar as well, just make sure to update it regularly.

2. Read a Book Together

My partner and I are both sapiosexuals (are you one? check out my seven signs you’re a sapiosexual post), so the idea of sharing a book is highly exciting (and slightly erotic) to both of us.

The hardest part is choosing a book that piques both of your interest. Alex is very much into literary fiction, sociological non-fiction and heavier reads. While I enjoy the intellectual expansion those books give me when I make it through them, I tend to lean more towards the kind of books I can escape into, which includes young adult fiction, the latest book that’s being turned into a movie, or memoir.

Alex and I sat together and started this book, and then finished it separately together.

Alex and I sat together and started this book, and then finished it separately.

Our first book together was Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, and she finished it in two weeks while I took two months (I finished two YA novels before it). For our next round, we decided to gift each other books we had loved, and then read them together. She gave me Alice Munro’s Dear Life, I gave her Harry Potter. Both of us were shocked the other hadn’t read our suggestion, both of us have yet to read either book.

We obviously haven’t found the perfect balance of how to read a book together, but we keep trying! And so should you, because once we finished Flight Behavior it was really great to talk with her about it.

3. Phone Sex

I love a good phone sex session. I love hearing my partner’s breath quicken, hearing moans and she comes. I love being loud and raspy and boisterous as I come. I love it all.

Any tips I’d give you about phone sex would come from Ashley Manta’s A Feminist’s Guide to Phone Sex, so go download that. It’s free!

Go download it for free at FriskyFeminist.com.

Go download it for free at FriskyFeminist.com.

4. Trinkets

When days are rough, it’s nice to cuddle into your partner’s arms and get comfort. But what do you do when those arms are far away?

Having trinkets, doodads, tidbits, or other such memorabilia around to help you feel loved is important when your friend or partner isn’t there to comfort you in person. Last month, I was battling a particularly rough bout of depression in which it was impossible for me to understand why someone would love me. My partner was miles away at the time and phone calls just weren’t really working.

Being the crafty person she is, my partner presented me with a clear jar with a bright yellow lid the next time I saw her. In that jar, dozens of colorful papers hearts sat folded in half, each one containing a hand-written reason she loves me. “Anytime you feel unlovable,” she said, holding me tightly, “just open this jar and read all the ways you are wonderful. You can take one at a time, or dump them all out and bathe in them, it’s up to you.”

Three of the cards Alex gave me.

Three of the cards Alex gave me.

I brought five of these hearts on my tour to DC, NYC and SF and had a bit of her love with me to keep me sane when things got rough.

If you’re looking for crafty relationship ideas like this one, check out this relationship craft board on Pinterest.

 

5. Skype/Facetime/Hangouts

Sometimes, I just need to see my baby’s face. Sure, we tend to spend the whole time staring at each other, but there’s something comforting in seeing her smile. It’s an especially good way to deal with times when texts have led to a miscommunication and we just need to calm and comfort each other.

 

6. Postcards and Love Letters

Yes, I am a writer, so yes, I am going to preach the importance of writing letters. Always. Forever. I teach a whole class on how to use writing to enhance your sex life, that’s how much I think writing is important to a relationship.

Texts come and go. I send about 1000 a week. Emails get buried in my box and never see the light of day again. But I have almost every single love letter a partner has handed me.

Letters give us something concrete, a way to know that someone took the time to find a piece of paper and a pen, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail.

Love letter I wrote to Alex while teaching in Seattle.

Love letter I wrote to Alex while teaching in Seattle.

When I’m traveling, I like to send postcards from places to people I miss while I’m there. My nieces and nephews especially love this touch, it makes them feel like they’re traveling with me.

Everyone loves getting mail, and a letter is a great way to show your affection and connect with someone.

7. Movie Dates

One of my favorite things to do is go to a movie, and I miss the ability to do that with partners or friends that are long-distance. Years ago, my ex The Wind suggested that we watch the same movie over the phone. This was long before Netflix and we both had to go to the movie store and call each other to see what they mutually had in stock. In VHS.

These days, with streaming video and the ability to share each other’s screens,

8. Listen to Your Partner

I asked Alex what advice she would recommend.

Be open minded. Understand your partner’s needs and understand that you may not always be the one who can satisfy those needs.

We learned a lot about what does and doesn’t work for our relationship simply through writing and talking about this post. For example, I now know that she does not want to schedule phone conversations but is open to scheduling longer dates. And she now knows that I am so old I picked out VHS movies with my ex.

9. Share Photo Albums

For Christmas last year, I made Alex a photo album chronicling our adventures together throughout the year. I love flipping through it and seeing where we’ve been.

If you’re less of the craft type, or you’d like something more immediately tangible, there are lots of ways to share photos online, including a build in shared album feature on iPhone that I use with Alex. My buddy Mona Darling and I use shared folders a lot when we’re at events with each other. It’s an easy way to reminisce about an event later.

Alex and my shared folder.

Alex and my shared folder on my phone.

I know some couples that use private Tumblrs with passwords as a way to share erotic photos, sweet messages and other tidbits with each other. It also can be a great way to show each other’s sexual interests. For example, if you both reblog a photo of rope bondage, you might want to talk about incorporating that into your sex life.

For advice on how to do that, check out Queeraschino Cherry’s Love Hurts: A Consent-Based Guide to Kink.

10. Ask Others For Advice

I find some of my best solutions come from others who have been there as well. Here’s what Twitter had to say about long-distance relationships:

 

 

 

 

 Are you in an LDR? How do you keep it healthy and happy?

About Queerie Bradshaw

Lauren Marie Fleming is a writer, speaker and motivator known for her intimate, informative and often hilarious look at sex, relationships and body-image. Lauren runs the critically-acclaimed QueerieBradshaw.com blog, writes for major news sources including VICE, Nerve, Huffington Post and Curve, and is the author of her memoir Losing It: My Life as a Sex Blogger. In 2013, Lauren founded Frisky Feminist Press (FriskyFeminist.com) as a way to enhance conversations about sexuality through educational guides, online classes and entertaining publications. A law school graduate, Lauren has spoken all over the United States and is internationally recognized for her dynamic, engaging style. In everything she does, Lauren’s goal is to educate, remove stigmas and encourage people to achieve their desires.
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2 Responses to Ten Tips for a Successful Long-Distance Relationship (Including Friendships!)

  1. What great tips for people. I use all of these for my relationship which is tragically LDR, had been for almost 4 years where we see each other at most twice a year but usually once a year.
    If like me you’re in different countries then I would recommend getting WhatsApp for the free text messaging and picture messaging using your WiFi. Also they have great voice recording clips too, I like to leave those now and then for the OH!
    We also having ‘gaming dates’ on the PC where we’d load up Skype and play a MMO or something together. And Battleship! He has one half of it, I have the other and we’ll put the cams on and play Battleship a timeless game IMO!
    We’re losers in regards to we sleep with each other on Skype too, usually weekends due to the 5hr time difference. But it’s nice to fall asleep listening to him sleeping too.

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