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I’ve been in a long distance relationship for almost a year now, with my sweet Canadian boyfriend Duke. I won’t gush too much about him because he’s not the point here, but here is his cute face:
It hasn’t been easy. 2200 miles, 3 hours time difference and an international border separate us – all of which can sometimes conspire to wreck a relationship. When you cannot physically touch your partner or comfort them when they are sad or help them when they need it, it’s hard.
That being said, if it’s the right person it’s totally worth it. Here’s what I’ve found super helpful, as I try to spend time with someone who isn’t physically here:
The Long Distance Dating Toolkit
1. A good texting app or plan. You’re going to be texting each other. A lot. I feel like I text more with my long distance friends than I do those who live nearby, but when your significant other is far away all bets are off.
The first few weeks that Duke and I were chatting, I think we racked up something like 1000 text messages a day, including memes (his favorite) and random photos of our day. I cannot imagine what the cost of texting over an international border would be, but WhatsApp has kept us in contact, using just an internet connection.
2. A video chat option. Occasionally, you might like to see your darling one’s face and maybe watch them cook or fold laundry…you know, stuff you would do if you lived together. Video chat comes in handy for these occasions, which Duke and I have nearly every evening because we are nerds for each other (gross, I know).
We also enjoy video chatting while we watch movies for “date night” and sometimes we cook together, choosing the recipe ahead of time and making it “together” while we video chat.
We use WhatsApp for everything (phone calls, texts and video chatting) just for simplicity sake (and because we’ve never had a problem with them), but Skype or Facebook Messenger on your computer (or phone!) are other long-distance favorites.
3. A streaming service. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon, even YouTube. Finding a show you both like (or one you can at least agree on!) and working your way through it together is a great way to spend some time. Plus, it’s a super easy date night!
4. A screensharing app. It helps to watch the movies together if you’re synced up. I hear there’s some sort of plugin for Netflix, but if you’re using a different streaming service, we like Kast. We have also used Trast, which does not require any downloads.
Duke and I will video chat while we’re watching (using WhatsApp) and he’ll mute his computer and listen to my audio. We haven’t experienced any massive lag issues from my connection to his, so the sound and picture sync up nicely through video chat for us.
5. A gaming system, or a site like this. If you both have an Xbox or both have a Playstation system, you can game together. I’ve found playing in the same party on Call of Duty and hunting the other players down together is very satisfying. Duke enjoys playing Sea of Thieves and Borderlands online.
There are multiple sites online where you can play games together and smartphone apps like Words with Friends as well. Nothing says “I love you” like decimating your boyfriend at online Scrabble.
6. Matching pajamas. This sounds trite, but it’s the little things that make you feel connected, especially when you’re apart during the holidays. Whether it’s having a bottle of your partner’s aftershave to smell when you really miss them or having a shirt of theirs to wear or a special piece of jewelry that’s from them or reminds you of them, it’s important to have something to share with your partner.
This past Christmas, my entire family got matching Christmas pajamas in a nice red and black Buffalo plaid. I asked Duke if he wanted to be included, and he helped me pick out the pattern for the pajamas and the style (half my family got cute hooded onesies like the photo above and half got two piece pajamas). He felt like he was part of the crew for Christmas, even though he was in Ontario.
7. Patience. If you don’t have patience, your relationship will never survive. It requires deep breathing sometimes, and putting your phone away so you’re not obsessing over why she’s not calling you back or scrolling through every instagram post he’s ever posted or scouring the Google machine for dirt on them.
You have to have things to keep you busy. You have to have a schedule that works for you, especially if there’s a time difference.
8. A plan for when you will be together next. I can’t tell you how much easier it is to do this long distance thing when you have an actual time that you’ll see that face in person.
When the days are endless and you don’t know when you’ll be able to see them again, it’s pretty damn hard. Do not recommend. 0/10.
9. Strong communication skills (or the willingness to work on them together). You cannot just “drop by” to say hey to your partner when you live so far away and sometimes that causes issues you wouldn’t expect. You’re lonely, but in a relationship. It’s a confusing place to be, especially when you know what you want and you can’t just go get it.
Talking to each other about how you’re feeling is essential. You have to be open with how the distance affects you, and how your life is going. If your boyfriend doesn’t know that your work life is terrible and it causes you to be stressed, which makes you snap at him…he cannot understand why you’re angry at him (and you’re not).
Also, just sharing the little things you encounter throughout your day helps you feel closer. I love dogs, so Duke takes photos of the dogs that cross his path during the day and sends them to me. He likes cats, so I send him all the cat photos. Which brings us to…
10. Something to share. Duke and I LOVE to talk about food. We watch all of the television shows. We talk about the best way to cook steaks, whether salted butter or unsalted is better, what kind of salt to use. I just bought myself a copy of the Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat book, and one for Duke so we can learn more about food together.
Even if it’s memes (or photos of dogs) or new things you are learning – it’s something the two of you can do together. I really want to buy canvases and acrylics and paint together to Bob Ross videos with Duke, but I have yet to get him on board with that.