How to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work

How to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work
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When you know how to make a long-distance relationship work the right way, you can make it fun and exciting. If you don’t know how to handle your long-distance relationship properly, it can bring you a lot of suffering. Here is how you can make your long-distance relationship work:

  1. Recognise a long-distance relationship for what it is, not for what you want it to be.
  2. Decide what kind of relationship you want.
  3. Agree with your partner that you want the same thing out of this relationship.
  4. Work on your communication to maintain an emotional connection and to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.
  5. Schedule regular visits to maintain physical intimacy while you are in a long-distance relationship.
  6. Make a plan on how long your long-distance relationship will last and how you will manage it until moving in together.
  7. If you are in a serious romantic long-distance relationship, agree on how and when you will move in together.
  8. Set an end date for the long-distance.
  9. Discuss how living together after a long-distance relationship will work for you and your partner.
  10. Prepare a strategy to handle the problems so that you can avoid unnecessary fights and arguments.
  11. Maintain trust by sharing your feelings openly and honestly with your long-distance partner.
  12. Take time to hear your partners feelings, doubts, and concerns without judging them.
  13. Always make your decisions together. If your feelings change, or you drift apart, discuss your feelings and desires before making any unilateral decisions.
  14. If you need some space to reassess your long-distance relationship, agree on having a week without talking or seeing each other.
  15. If your long-distance relationship doesn’t work, you can end it without negative feelings or arguments.
  16. Discuss what’s not working with your partner, and if you choose to end your long-distance relationship, you can still be friends and be in touch.
  17. Always try to find a way that works for both you and your partner.

Couples in long-distance relationships try to figure out how to make the relationship work. 

But when you focus so much on trying to make it work, soon enough it can go from fun and enjoyment to struggle and survival.

One of the first things you can do in a long-distance relationship is to see it as a stage in your relationship, rather than an ongoing type of romantic relationship. Romantic relationship implies physical intimacy, which is lacking in a long-distance relationship. That’s why you shouldn’t try to make it last for too long.

Many couples see their long-distance relationship is an inconvenience. When you see it this way, it will quickly become a struggle. When your long-distance relationship becomes a struggle, it will be progressively harder to maintain.

To have a healthy long-distance relationship, you need to find a way to enjoy it. Being away from your romantic partner is undeniably difficult. It’s unavoidable for you to feel sad, lonely and frustrated when you can’t be next to someone you love.

However, a long-distance relationship is an opportunity to be intimate with someone special while having a lot of time to spend on doing things you enjoy with people you love. You can also use this extra time for yourself, to work on your life goals and ambitions.

In this article, we’ll see how to ask the right questions and what you can do to make your long-distance relationship work. We’ll explore the problems that the distance brings and the ways to deal with them. I hope that by the end of this article you will see that a long-distance can be an opportunity for you and your relationship. Along the way, I will answer the most common questions. 

What is a long-distance relationship and how to make it work?

A long-distance relationship is a romantic relationship where a geographical distance comes between you and your partner.

A long-distance relationship can work for new couples who are starting a new relationship online or for existing couples who have to be apart for some time.

Long-distance relationships can work great for a short period. As time goes on, it can become harder to maintain a healthy long-distance relationship. One of the reasons is the lack of physical intimacy. 

When you are in a romantic relationship, you expect sexual intimacy to be part of your relationship. However, when you are in a long-distance relationship, you can be away from your partner for weeks or months at a time.

Not having enough physical intimacy in your relationship ending your life can lead to sexual frustration. After some time, this frustration will negatively affect your relationship and your overall well-being.

Another problem in the long-distance relationship is poor communication. Suppose you don’t take care to express yourself clearly to your long-distance partner. In that case, it will leave a lot of room for misunderstanding and confusion.

Misunderstandings can then lead to unnecessary arguments and fights that will eventually ruin your relationship.

To make your long-distance relationship work, you need a plan for how long it will last. A plan will also help you manage emotional and physical connection while you are apart.

If you don’t have an end date for your the long-distance in your relationship, you may feel like the separation will last forever. This feeling can lead to depression and anxiety, which can make your life hard and your relationship a struggle.

To maintain a healthy and successful long-distance relationship, you should agree with your partner how much you communicate and how often you visit each other.

In a long-distance relationship, there is a temptation to blame the distance for all your problems. The distance doesn’t make a relationship harder; it makes it different. But some problems might be there, even without the distance.

If you are serious about making your long-distance relationship work:

  1. Work out your personal differences and preferences.
  2. Find out how the distance affects your relationship.

Here are some tips on what you should and shouldn’t do in a long-distance relationship.

Things you should do to have a healthy long-distance relationship:

  • Express your feelings as clear as you can.
  • Your feelings will change, so express how you feel at the moment.
  • Ask your partner how they feel about you.

Things you should do to have a healthy long-distance relationship:

  • Hope and assume that they like you.
  • Be afraid of asking how they feel.
  • Take it personally if they feel differently. 
  • We all have our preferences. If you are unsure of how to express your feelings, this book will help you. Marshal Rosenberg and his non-violent communication (NVC) changed my world.

Is it possible to make a long-distance relationship work?

While it’s possible to make a long-distance relationship work, you need to know why you want to make it work, for how long, and what do you expect at the end of it.

For example, suppose you want a casual relationship or friendship. In that case, your long-distance relationship can last forever and work just fine. However, if you want a serious romantic relationship, you need a plan for when you move in together. You should also discuss if you have the time and the means to move and how living together will work.

While in a long-distance relationship, you may discover that it is not working for you. If this happens, you should figure out what exactly isn’t working and find a way to fix it with the help of your long-distance partner.

Suppose you won’t be able to fix some problems due to your situation. Or your feelings may change, and you might drift apart. In that case, perhaps the best thing you can do is to end your relationship. In any case, avoid suppressing your negative feelings and emotions, as they will make your life miserable and will ruin your relationship anyway.

It’s normal to have doubts. Doubts tell you that something in your life or your relationship that isn’t working for you. The healthy thing to do is to recognise the source of your doubts and check if you need to make some changes.

Doubts can also come as a result of feeling insecure or uncertain about something or someone. These insecurities and uncertainties can result from distrust in yourself or the other person. Before we get too deep, the point is that it’s ok to have doubts. But if you don’t address them and move on, they can affect your behaviour and create issues that don’t have to be there.

So, if something is troubling you, share it with your partner and try to work it out together.

But if you are no longer feeling great about your relationship, don’t cling on to it. 

If you find that you are suffering more often than not (as is common in long-distance relationships), ask yourself if it’s worth it.

What works for some may not work for others. Just because some couples are happy to spend years in a long-distance relationship, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Suppose you are inspired by this person and excited about your relationship. Not only can you make it work, but you can also make it fun. 

You may find yourself in a long-distance relationship that’s not working for you for some reason. Before trying to push through despite feeling bad about it, ask yourself if you should be putting more work into a relationship that’s not working. I’m not saying you should break up at the first sign of struggle. 

What I’m encouraging you to do is to take a fresh look at your relationship, see what you love about it and what you are not enjoying. It will help you make a more constructive decision. If you are considering breaking up, read this first.

Why is it hard to make a long-distance relationship work?

In a long-distance relationship, the hardest thing is to be away from your partner. Most of the time, it’s because of circumstances rather than out of choice.

It isn’t easy to maintain your relationship without physical affection. You don’t get the comfort of physical touch, a kiss or a hug. 

Physical closeness helps you feel safe, calm, and content. It’s hard to navigate your relationship without it.

The distance can strain your relationship, making it hard to remain emotionally connected. In this situation, you may feel helpless. It may seem that all you can do is wait. You need to decide if you want to suck it up and stick it out or make your long-distance relationship work. It may seem that a long-distance relationship is a lot of work. In a long-distance relationship, it’s easy to blame the distance when things aren’t going well.

The dynamic of a long-distance relationship is different from a regular relationship. One significant difference is the way you communicate. To make your long-distance relationship work, it’s worth learning the right way to share your feelings with your partner.

While the distance can complicate your relationship, the problem may be due to the difference in your personalities. Or you may have different preferences, beliefs, and values.

To help you resolve problems, you first need to get clear at what is a long-distance relationship. Once you understand what it means to be in a relationship with someone who is not physically present, you can foresee the possible problems and find the best solutions.

In a long-distance relationship, it’s hard to understand how someone feels. You can’t see your partner’s body language, nor can you touch them. So, maintaining the connection in a long-distance relationship differs slightly from when you are together.

How long can you make long-distance relationships work?

You can make a long-distance relationship work as long as you like. But the more important question is whether or not your relationship is healthy and successful. It’s also important to note if you are happy in your relationship, or are you feeling miserable most of the time.

Many couples tried to make their long-distance relationship work even if they are unhappy, and their relationship becomes toxic. If you find yourself in such a relationship, take a week to reassess if it’s worth it or not. Ask yourself, why are you struggling in this relationship?

Maybe you’d be better off ending the relationship that isn’t working and finding someone else with whom you can be happy and actually enjoy your relationship.

You may find yourself in a long-distance relationship that lasts longer than you planned or longer than what you are happy with. If this is the case with you, take some time out to reassess. 

A lot of couples try to make their relationship work long-distance even if they aren’t happy with it. In some cases, couples can remain in a long-distance relationship for years, surviving all the hardships. And when they finally get together, they tell themselves it was worth it. 

While it may be worth it, after having invested years in the relationship, it’s hard to admit that it may not be worth it after all. It is a danger of being stuck in a relationship for the sake of making it work.

How to make new long-distance relationship work?

You’ve met someone who lives far away. You have fond feelings towards each other, so you start a long-distance relationship. But getting to know someone long-distance can be challenging. 

When you’re starting in your long-distance relationship, it helps to know what you want from it. If you’re planning to have a serious romantic relationship, then at some point you will want to move in together.

Whatever your intentions, you can still spend a couple of months getting to know someone online to see if your conversation flows. If you are getting on well, you should meet up to see what it’s like being together in real life. Until you meet a person, all you have is your idea of what they are like based on the information they provide.

After visiting each other for a few months, you may decide to move in and see what it is like living together.

Whatever you decide to do with your long-distance relationship, remember always to have fun and keep your relationship interesting and exciting. The moment you or your partner lose interest, you should reassess your relationship. While it’s okay to try and make your long-distance relationship work, it’s equally important to keep it interesting.

To make your long-distance relationship work, you need to know how long it will last, and how you will manage your communication and physical intimacy.

How to make a long-distance relationship work with time difference?

The time difference can be a problem for a long-distance relationship. The obvious issue is to sync your schedules and availability when you can talk to each other. Another problem is being in the mood to talk. 

Your mood changes as you go through your day. We may feel energised at certain times and tired a few hours later. For example, you may feel ready and willing to talk to your long-distance partner, while they might be tired and in need of a rest. 

When this happens, you might feel that they don’t want to talk to you. At the same time, if your partner decides to speak to you even though they druther have a nap, you may not get as much attention as you would have liked.

How to make a long-distance relationship work without seeing each other?

Being in a romantic relationship without seeing your partner is very hard and can only work for a short while.

While a long-distance friendship or a casual relationship could work well, a long-distance romantic relationship is a whole different thing. The problem with having a romantic long-distance relationship is twofold. 

On the one hand, you usually see your long-distance partner once every couple of weeks or even less often. On the other hand, you’re close to having sexual relationships with other people, unless you are in an open long-distance relationship.

The only way you can maintain physical closeness in a long-distance relationship is by regularly visiting each other and going on trips together.

When you don’t see each other for a long time, your feelings may change, and you may drift apart. If your long-distance relationship isn’t working, sometimes it’s better to let it go. However, it’s not easy to let go of someone with whom you are in a relationship. You get used to having this person in your life, and you feel that without them, you will have emptiness in your life.

The fear of emptiness or attachment can be so intense that some people choose to stay in a relationship, even if they are unhappy.

There is a difference between attachment and having a bond. When two people have a bond, it’s a connection with awareness. And attachment it’s more like being together out of habit. While the bond is strengthened by understanding and connection, attachment makes people stay together out of fear of losing that person.

Many couples try to make that a long-distance relationship work. But it’s more important to have a healthy relationship than putting effort into something that makes you miserable.

How to make long-distance relationships work sexually?

A lack of sexual intimacy is one of the main reasons long-distance relationships don’t work.

One way to deal with it is to agree to see other people by having an open long-distance relationship. However, this idea isn’t for everyone and if there is a risk of falling for someone else.

When you’re apart from your long-distance partner, you can spice up your relationship with sexting, interactive sex toys and virtual sex. But none of these things replaces physical closeness with someone you love. One thing you can do is to visit each other regularly.

If you have the means to see each other often, long-distance relationships are not as tricky. However, many couples are not in a position to do so.

One thing to consider when it comes to sexual life in a long-distance relationship is how much you and your partner need sex. Usually, one partner needs it more than the other. 

If you need sex more frequently than your partner, it would be harder for you to manage without it. In this case, you should share your feelings with your partner and allow them to help you by arranging more frequent visits or moving in sooner.

Note that a long-distance relationship is not a complete romantic relationship. It’s a phase in your relationship that allows you to get to know each other better.

Here, we will see how you can make the most out of your long-distance relationship and the problems you may encounter along the way.

To make your long-distance relationship work sexually, you need to know:

  • How long the long-distance will last?
  • How often do you need to see each for sexual satisfaction?
  • How you will satisfy your sexual needs while apart?
  • What you want to achieve during the long-distance period of your relationship?
  • How will you know when it’s time to move in together, turn your relationship into a friendship or break up and move on.

How to make a long-distance relationship work after cheating?

Cheating is a combination of having sex and lying about it. With the lack of physical intimacy in the long-distance relationship, you can almost expect one of you getting sexually involved with someone else.

If this happens, it comes down to trust. If your bond with your long-distance partner is strong enough, you can talk about what happened, the reasons for it, and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.

However, if you don’t resolve the needs behind the cheating, the chances are it will happen again. Repetitive cheating is unhealthy and is a sign that you are in a toxic long-distance relationship.

If your long-distance partner cheated on you, you might choose to talk about it, or you may decide to end your relationship. Either way, try to understand what happened and why, so you can do better next time.

Key to making a long-distance relationship work

Here are some key things you can do to make a long-distance relationship work:

  • Apply effective communication to maintain a connection with your partner.
  • An open and honest conversation can reassure you that your relationship is going great.
  • Knowing that you can express exactly how you feel, gives you a sense of security.
  • Get clear on what you want and what your partner wants for yourselves as individuals and for your relationship.
  • Use the three steps above to build trust and freely express how you feel and what you want.
  • Make a plan that meets your individual needs and sets you on the right path to a healthy long-term relationship.
  • You want to do all you can to make your long-distance relationship work.
  • But, if it doesn’t work, you now have the tools to talk about it and separate on good terms.

Now you can let go of the belief that relationships are hard. Your relationship is what you make it. So get creative.

Questions to consider if you want to make your long-distance relationship work

Here are some questions that can help you navigate your long-distance relationship:

  • Why are you in a long-distance relationship?
  • What do you expect from your long-distance relationship?
  • Why are you in a long-distance romantic relationship with this particular person?
  • What is a long-distance relationship?
  • What problems you may face while apart?
  • How does a long-distance affect intimacy in your relationship?
  • What are practical ways to have effective communication in a long-distance relationship?
  • How to apply effective communication to your long-distance relationship?
  • Why are you in a long-distance relationship?
  • What do you expect from your long-distance relationship?
  • Why are you in a long-distance romantic relationship with this particular person?
  • You can make a long-distance relationship work. But do you need to?
  • What if your long-distance relationship is lasting longer than what you’d like? 
  • What if now you are feeling sadness and frustration from not being able to be together?

7 Tips to make a long-distance relationship work

Here are seven fundamental tips on how you can make your relationship work long-distance:

  1. Be your own person, regardless of your relationship status
  2. Find out what’s important for you and your long-distance partner
  3. Create a meaningful connection with your long-distance partner
  4. Make a plan, together with your long-distance partner
  5. Agree on how often you speak with your long-distance partner
  6. Agree on how often you will visit your long-distance partner
  7. Make a plan for managing your long-distance relationship when you are apart

Tip 1 – Be your own person, regardless of your relationship status

To be yourself is to know who you are, your values, beliefs and preferences. A relationship is a union of two people, two individuals. You chose your partner because there is something special about them. So, you wanted them to be part of your life. 

Out of the whole world, they also chose you, because you are unique. Your life’s experiences, values and beliefs, how you deal with problems and how you treat others define your personality. These are the things that make you unique.

As soon as you find a partner, you forget who you are and what you want. After some time, the relationship becomes boring. In the first few months, you learn all there is to know about each other. For the rest of your relationship, you think there isn’t anything else to learn, and your partner thinks the same. So if neither of you develops, your relationship won’t either. 

Continue self-development as it will encourage your personal growth and will make your relationship more exciting.

Tip 2 – Find out what’s important for you and your long-distance partner

We all have individual preferences. Things important to us may seem trivial to others, and vice versa. Therefore, it can go a long way to let your partner know what’s important to you and consider what’s important to them. Don’t expect your partner to guess what you want and how you want it. Instead, try this approach:

  • Make a list of things you want in your relationship.
  • Apply a scale of importance from 0 to 10 to each item.
  • At the top, are the things you want, no matter what.
  • At the bottom, are the aspects of your relationship with which you can be flexible.

Always remember what is important to you and why.

Often, relationships become saturated with compromise, and you ask yourself if it’s even worth it.

Tip 3 – Create a meaningful connection with your long-distance partner

After some time together, you may think you know all that there is to know about your partner. It may seem like there’s nothing else you can learn about them. When you lose the curiosity for each other, You may end up with boring conversations about daily activities. 

They are empty because they don’t create a meaningful connection. We experience life through feelings. An important thing to remember is that our feelings change all the time. Our environment, thoughts and circumstances influence them.

A lot of us find it hard to express how you feel; you just don’t have the vocabulary for it. But without sharing how you feel, emotional connection is next to impossible, especially in a long-distance relationship. Next time you talk to your partner, ask them how they are feeling at that moment. 

You may hear something like ‘ok’, ‘not bad’, ‘fine’ etc. If you hear that, it’s a sign that your partner may not know how to express their feelings. 

Learn to talk about your feelings and get comfortable sharing them with your long-distance partner

Tip 4 – Make a plan, together with your long-distance partner

Having a plan is simple enough. Anybody can make a plan by compromising. But, how do you make a plan where everyone needs are met, particularly the important ones? 

When you are alone in a long-distance relationship, you may assess the situations in your head. You decide what is possible and what isn’t before you even talk to your partner. Instead, try this:

  1. Make a list of your feelings, needs and what you want. 
  2. Next time you discuss your relationship with your partner, share this list with your partner. 
  3. Then, take the time to hear your partner. 
  4. Make notes on what they want and what is essential to your partner. 
  5. Finally, look at all your notes together. 
  6. Together, you can assess what you want and what is possible.

Always make your plans together with your partner after you hear each other out. Approach it objectively, without emotions. Imagine you are trying to help another couple in the same situation. You will see the difference it makes.

Tip 5 – Agree on how often you speak with your long-distance partner

Talking is one of the main ways of communication in a long-distance relationship. We’ve discussed how you can maintain an emotional connection by choosing what you are talking about. 

It is equally important to agree with your partner about how often you call each other. You may wish to speak ten times a day, while your partner may feel that three times a week is plenty.

Doing so, you would appear needy, and your partner could come across as if they don’t care about you. To avoid misunderstanding, lay both of your preferences on the table and find a mutually acceptable solution.

Agree on when is the best time for you to call each other and how often

Tip 6 – Agree on how often you will visit your long-distance partner

So far, you have covered the importance of being your own person and having your own life. Now, let’s have a look at how often do you see each other.

Physical touch is a basic human need that is very important to us. However, the degree of importance varies from person to person. Physical intimacy gives the reassurance that you are connected.

Ideally, you may need this reassurance every day, but it may still be ok for you to be intimate say once a week. If this is the case, it is normal to expect for you to feel distant from your partner if you don’t get to touch them for more than a week.

Recognise the importance of physical intimacy for yourself, your partner, and your relationship.

  • Apply the scale of importance from 0 to 10 to your preference. 
  • Ask your partner to do the same, and compare your findings. 
  • If your needs for physical intimacy are different, it can affect your relationship, so have a chat about it.

Tip 7 – Make a plan for managing your long-distance relationship when you are apart

Seeing each other after some time can be very fulfilling. Naturally, you are looking forward to those days. It’s far too easy to fall into a habit of waiting for your next meeting, forgetting all about Tip 1.

By actively waiting, I mean counting the days to your next visit. The more you focus on the waiting, the more you are reminding yourself that you can’t have something you want. You feel like your life is not enough. It is a first step to turning your long-distance relationship into survival.

On the other hand, if you see the waiting as every day is less time to see your partner, then you can feel excited about it.

Next time you are together, set personal goals and make a plan of how you will achieve them before you meet again.

Use the time apart to achieve your personal life goals and ambitions.

It has a double benefit. First, you will be on track with your personal development. Second, by sharing your plan and keeping your partner up to date with your progress, your partner will be part of it.


When you are asking yourself how to make a long-distance relationship, it’s a sign that you are at a crossroads. You have a choice: see the long-distance as a source of your struggles or take it as an opportunity to reflect on your relationship and your personal development.

People erroneously believe that to make your relationship work, you need to compromise what you want and try to do what your partner wants. It is actually the opposite. Knowing your own feelings, needs, and preferences will bring depth to your personality. Sharing them with your partner will help you create a meaningful connection. And, it will bring understanding to your relationship.

In a long-distance relationship, we make the distance to be the troublemaker. Today we have dispelled this myth. We’ve seen how being apart is an opportunity for you to work on yourself. It’s time you can spend learning to connect to your partner and by doing so, make your relationship not only healthy but fun and exciting.

We’ve looked at why it is essential to get clear on our own needs and how it contributes to the health of your relationship.

These seven tips will help you move away from suffering a long-distance in your relationship towards creating a meaningful connection with your partner.

A long-distance relationship is challenging for most people. But as we have seen, it does not have to be. Following the steps above, you no longer have to just ‘make it work’, you can make it fun. You want to do all you can to make your long-distance relationship work. But, if it doesn’t work, you now have the tools to talk about it and separate on good terms.

To make your long-distance relationship work, you need understanding, care, willingness and action.

  1. Understand each other, your relationship and your situation.
  2. Recognise how much you care about yourself, your partner and your relationship.
  3. If you understand and care enough, the next step is to be willing to do something about it.
  4. Now it’s time to figure out what can you do to help yourself, your partner or your relationship.

If you found this article helpful, share it with others who need some guidance in their long-distance relationships.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do long-distance relationships work?

Long-distance relationships work for people who meet online and want to get to know each other better. They also work for couples who are relocating and have to be apart for some time. In any case, it’s better if you can make it a short phase in your relationship.

How to make online long-distance relationships work?

To make a long-distance relationship work online, you need to have clear, open, and honest communication. It’s only possible if you work on improving your communication. You also need a clear plan on how to manage your relationship long-distance and a strategy to fix problems when they come around.

How to make long-distance relationships work in college?

Long-distance relationships can be hard to maintain while in college. You can try to make it work, but more often than not, it will keep you away from enjoying your college life.

How to make a long term long-distance relationship work?

Long-distance relationships aren’t meant to last for a long time. A romantic relationship implies physical intimacy. In a long-distance relationship, you only see your partner once every few weeks or once a month. Lack of physical intimacy can lead to sexual frustration and negatively impact your relationship and your overall well-being.

How to make your long-distance relationship work again?

If you already had a long-distance relationship that didn’t work, stop and ask yourself why. Sometimes, emotions take over, and it’s hard to say this situation for what it is. Having some time away from a relationship will allow you to see it from a different perspective. Once you can identify what didn’t work in your previous long-distance relationship, you can learn from it and do better next time.

How long can your romantic relationship last without physical intimacy?

Every person has a different need for sexual intimacy. If you are in a long-distance relationship, you may need physical intimacy more than your long-distance partner. In this case, it will be harder for you to cope with being away from them for a long time. The healthy way to deal with it is to talk about your feelings and needs with your partner. Together, you can find a way forward that works for both of you.

Alex Larryngton

Hi, I’m Alex:) As a Relationship Coach, I am someone you come to when you feel stuck in a relationship and want to find a way out.

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