My partner and I were in a long distance relationship from the time we met at 16 until we moved in together, 8.5 years later. The distance ranged from a 45-minute drive in high school to being on different continents. We still spend a lot of time apart, between conflicting work schedules and frequent trips.
Every relationship has challenges
Whether you live together or live half a world apart, you and your beau will face challenges. For long distance relationships, those look like coordinating times to talk amidst different schedules and, maybe, time zones; skin hunger; and, not having your person to lean on in tough times.
Devastating as any of these can be, you can have a successful long distance relationship. That’s because:
You can learn how to make a long distance relationship work
While long distance relationships aren’t right for everyone, if the one you love happens to live somewhere else, learning how to be together, while apart, is absolutely something you can learn.
Here are eight ways to do just that.
How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work
Choose a relationship structure that works for you—and, yes, it can change.
When the beau and I were driving-distance and visited regularly, monogamy worked great. Before he moved abroad, we agreed to open the relationship for the duration of his stay.
We had Big Scary Talks about what that would look like, getting into the nitty gritty like what types of relationships and intimacy were ok, which weren’t, and what would happen when he came back. We both made compromises and settled on relationship agreements that worked for us.
To be honest, this terrified me. I even had nightmares that he was telling his friends we broke up! But it made sense for us at the time, and strengthened our bond. When it stopped working, we went back to monogamy.
You get to make the rules in your relationship. Fuck the shoulds and focus on what makes you and your beau happy.
Lean on friends for non-sexual physical intimacy
My friend groups have always a touchy-feely. I never lacked people to hug, cuddle, get massages from, play with my hair, or share a bed. Many nights in college were spent being someone’s little spoon or giving head scratches!
During times I didn’t have these types of friendships, my physical and emotional health suffered—and so did my relationship. Connecting with my friends in this way meant I wasn’t relying on one person (my beau) to be my everything. It taught me that I have to be responsible for fulfilling my needs, and to be open to getting those needs met in a variety of ways.
Don’t have those types of friendships right now? Start cultivating them. Ask for more hugs, for back rubs. You also can check out Cuddle Party (google “cuddle party + [your location]) and Cuddlist.
Use tech to stay in touch
Not to sound old, but when the beau and I were doing long-distance, we had calling cards, cell phones that made calls and sent texts, and Skype…on our computers. That’s it!
Now, the number of options to stay connected overwhelms! What’sApp, Snapchat, MarcoPolo, FaceTime, Messenger, Skype, and the list goes on and on (totally just sang those to the tune of We Didn’t Start the Fire). Choose 1 or 2 ways you both enjoy and that work wherever you are.
High tech not an option? Old fashioned love letters can be sexy AF (see also: Alexander Hamilton and Angelica Schuyler flirting via punctuation). Here are some ideas to get you started:
Opportunities, not challenges
Let’s be real: it sucks when you need comfort—or to get laid—and your partner is half a world away!
When skin hunger, frustration over managing different schedules, loneliness from not having your partner to lean on, and the other challenges of long distance relationships arise, feel those feelings.
When you’re out of you feels—however long that takes—I invite you to see these challenges as opportunities. Scheduling intimacy, whether that’s FaceTime or sexy times, relying on your community, for support, and being vulnerable strengthen your relationship. The skills that make being long distance work force your to learn help you thrive as a couple, now and forever.
Have rituals just for the two of you
Think about both mundane rituals, like setting a time to talk each day that works for your schedule, as well special occasion ones. For the beau and I, the latter meant staying up till midnight on each other’s birthday, regardless of time zone differences.
Having these rituals helps you feel more connected as a couple. You’ve got something that’s just for the two of you. Barring extenuating circumstance, prioritize these above all else.
You also want to chat about how to handle it when you can’t partake in a ritual. Maybe there’s a trip or someone is sick. Take the time to talk about the worst case scenarios and what to do. This contingency plan helps ensure you both feel like a priority to each other.
Use tech to find freedom in pleasure
Something else didn’t exist in Ye Olden Days? App-enabled sex toys
These toys use Bluetooth to let you play with your partner together—even when you’re apart. It doesn’t matter if you’re across the living room or the world! There are few different brands with this capability, but my favorite is We-Vibe. Their We-Connect app works with 10 different toys!
The app gives you lots of ways to excite your lover and make sexy times just as intimate as when you’re together IRL. One of you can be controlling the other’s We-Vibe vibrator, or if you both have one, you can share control of each other’s pleasure at the same time.
We-Connect also lets you chat via secure video and text to make the experience more personal and build excitement.
It’s easy to use We-Connect. Just download it to your phone, connect your toy via bluetooth, and send your beau an invite to connect! You’ll meet in the app, where you can touch, tease, and turn each other on, no matter the distance.
Prioritize your time together
When you get to see each other IRL, be present. For us that meant getting ahead with homework and skipping parties to stay in and…cuddle. Now it means putting our phones away at the dinner table or closing other apps and devices when we’re chatting from a distance
Don’t flake on important friend events that happen during a visit. Instead talk about what will feel fulfilling for both of you. Maybe it means hitting up the event but staying only a set amount of time.
Masturbation benefits you in a ton of ways, from helping you sleep to learning what turns you on and gets you there to stoking your desire. Beng able to share your likes and dislikes with your beau
And don’t discount mutual masturbation via video chat. You get most of the same benefits: a sexy show, learning more about what your beau likes, and
It also can be fun to abstain for a few days before you see each other. Some of my counseling clients have found this necessary in order to experience orgasm with their partner. Others simply enjoy how it electrifies every touch, kiss, and stroke.
Being in a long-distance relationship isn’t easy, but I’m grateful for it.
It let us become our own people during important parts of our adolescence. It taught us how to be both fiercely independent and deeply vulnerable. It helped us avoid the traps that many couples who meet young fall into, like feeling stuck or that we missed out on certain high school and college shenanigans.
With a lot of creativity, patience, and communication (and tech!), your long distance relationship can be as intimate, exciting, and fulfilling as you desire.
Big thank you to We-Vibe® for supporting #freedominpleasure and this post.
We-Vibe® designs and manufactures world-leading couples and solo vibrators. Our world-class engineers and industrial designers work closely with sexual wellness experts, doctors and consumers to design and develop intimate products that work in sync with the human body. We use state-of-the-art techniques and tools to make sure our products set new industry standards for ergonomic design and high performance while remaining eco‑friendly and body-safe.