Long-distance relationship advice

According to just about every TV show and movie on the planet, long-distance doesn’t work. But that’s just the fictional world - until it happens to you. Now that you’re geographically separated, can your long-distance relationship work? And just as importantly, do you want it to? The relationship experts at The Mix share some of their tips for long distance couples.

A young woman is sitting on a desk. She is in a long distance relationship. This is a full-body image

How to spend time apart from your partner

Be comfortable with having your own lives: Starting life as a student or in a new job is a bit like landing on a new planet. Why? Because everything seems alien to begin with, not just your surroundings but the people too. It’s especially tough when your long distance partner isn’t with you, and that’s completely valid. But it’s vital that you make an effort to make the most of the moment you’re in. Only then will you establish a life outside of your relationship, which is the key to it staying successful.

Build a support network: Tempting as it may be to stay inside and become a hermit, do make an effort to meet new people. You can’t expect to know everyone immediately. Set your sights on making friends with just one or two people and build from there. If they’re also new, then chances are they’re feeling a lot of the same emotions as you.

Get your feelings off your chest: It’s natural to feel down if you’re missing your partner, but don’t bottle up your feelings, otherwise things’ll just become bigger and bigger in your head. Take it day to day. Getting things off your chest can really help give you a better perspective on the situation, but don’t just talk to your partner. There are many people and places who can help you get a more objective handle on your love life: from trusted friends and colleagues to your student counsellor, as well as online long distance relationship support groups or even a call home to your family.

How to spend time together

Be comfortable with the trust and travel commitments: Your relationship has gone from being a cosy affair in which you’re practically (or literally) living together, to being geographically separated. This doesn’t mean it’s doomed to fail – absence really can make the heart grow fonder – but it does demand a lot of trust (and travel). At the end of the day, only you can decide if you’re committed to making this long distance relationship work, just be sure your partner feels the same way too.

Make the most of your time together: Now you’re not seeing each other face to face regularly, be sure to make the most of your time together. Your significant other isn’t going to relish the prospect of travelling across the country, only to spend the weekend staring aimlessly at the telly – unless, of course, that kind of thing is what you guys bond over. So talk to each other in advance. Work out the best way to make things go with a bang (apart from the obvious, of course). Even if your plan is not to plan anything, that’s still letting each other know what you want.

How to maintain the relationship

Keep chatting about the way you both feel: It might make you feel less anxious to begin with, but don’t go booking up your weekends together for months in advance. Video calling and social media has made things a bit easier for long distance couples, so you can stay connected on the weekends you spend apart. The fact is your feelings may well change as you grow used to being apart, which is why it’s so important that you’re both entirely honest with each other about what you’re feeling. Nobody can predict if it’s gonna work in the long-run, but a regular review will at least ensure you’re both still on the same page.

How to end a long distance relationship

Cheating is not the best way: If your partner lives on the other side of the country, it’s tempting to think you can sneak around and get away with it. The trouble is, if you have a conscience, you’re not going to feel the best about yourself. Plus, if the truth ever does come out it’ll only leave you feeling worse. To help you sort through your feelings, read our article on how not to cheat here.

Be honest about your feelings: If you’re at all unsure about your commitment to your homebound beau, then it’s only fair that you make a clean break. Even if you swore undying love before you left, think how bad they’d feel if they knew you were just staying in this relationship out of obligation. It’s a cliche but honestly truly is the best policy, for everyone involved. It’s not easy to work out how to break up with someone, but this guide might help. You can also try to talk to some relationship experts to help figure out how you want to deal with everything.

Be realistic about what will make you both happiest: As for breaking the news, there’s no need to make them feel worse by announcing your intention to play the field (especially if you’re already doing so). Just be realistic about the situation, and stress that you both stand a better chance of happiness by parting ways now.

How to figure out when to do it

Be brave and pick your moment: Of course it’ll hurt, but that’s part of the deal when it comes to breaking up. If you can handle the situation with honesty and respect then at least you stand a chance of coming out of this with your friendship intact. Consider the time and place before you break the news. Inviting them across the country just to dump them in front of your new mates isn’t advisable. Travelling home to sort things out is probably the best shout. That way they’re geographically close to friends and family once you’ve gone.

It’s likely to be a sad time for a few weeks or even months but we’re here for you. Our article on accepting it’s over might help. Alternatively, you can reach out to long distance relationship support groups to talk to people in the same situation.

Next Steps

  • Read articles on a range of relationship topics on The Mix's Relationship Support Page in partnership with Click.
  • Relate is an affordable relationship and sex counselling service. 0300 100 1234
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 20-Nov-2021