7 Ways to Make Your Long-Distance Relationship Stronger
That's the distance between Toronto and Edinburgh. It also happens to be the distance between me and my long-distance boyfriend. We've been dating for 10 months.
Most people think of long-distance relationships like mine as doomed from the start. But a 2013 study found that's not the case. In fact, people in long-distance relationships can feel emotionally closer than people who live in the same city. But in order for our relationship to work, we have to keep in touch — and sometimes, talking on the phone or Skyping doesn't cut it. We have to get creative with technology.
Fortunately, a plethora of apps make it easy to connect in long-distance relationships. I tried out a few with my boyfriend and came up with seven tips for how to strengthen that bond — even if you're 3,317 miles away.
Make it a movie night.
Snuggling in for a Netflix marathon session with your S.O. is a go-to date night activity. It's also been proven to help strengthen your relationship: A 2014 study found that couples who watched and discussed at least five movies together per month were more likely to stay together.
But even though being thousands of miles apart from your S.O. might make movie night difficult, apps like Gaze and Rabbit are bridging the geographical gap between long-distance lovers by letting you watch streaming movies together. So in addition to being able to Skype with your partner, you can also watch Bojack Horseman together on Netflix in real time.
Playing games can actually be good for a relationship.
It might sound obvious, but fun is the essence of any good relationship. But in an LDR, it's easy to forget about goofing around when you're busy trying to catch up on each other's days. Playing online games like Words with Friends and Quizup together can be a great way to inject a dose of fun (not to mention healthy competition) into your routine for a few minutes a day.
Whether it's five minutes to prove who really knows Harry Potter or quizzing each other on Red Sox trivia, playing together in real time while Skyping is an awesome way to feel connected. And if you can't play at the same time, you can challenge them for later.
The couple that draws together stays together.
According to psychological studies, laughing together with your partner is one of the most foolproof ways to boost relationship satisfaction. Thanks to an app called Couple, which offers a live sketch feature that allows you to doodle with your partner, you can poke fun at your partner's crude drawing skills from thousands of miles away. Pro tip: Drawing boobs and penises together is one of the best ways to giggle like a sixth-grader. (You can also save the sketches in the app, so you can go back at any time and revisit how immature you both are.)
Send a selfie.
While it's a cliche to say a picture is worth a thousand words, sharing a photo of a dog with a ridiculous face you just saw on the street or a beautiful sunset on the drive home from work can help you feel close to your partner in a way that a text can't.
Sending pics a few times a day creates a sense of "'interrelatedness' or the feeling of being involved in each other's day-to-day ups and downs," Greg Guldner, a long-distance relationship researcher and assistant professor at Loma Linda University, told Women's Health. Thank goodness for Snapchat, which is a great way to share the funny little moments you encounter that you might not get a chance to chat later about.
Let's be honest: There's another, different use for Snapchat, one that's revolutionized the art of the long-distance relationship. Ephemeral texting has made it much easier for couples to keep the spark alive from great distances, without fear of the other party holding onto the photo. Even Couple has the ability to lock a photo so the receiver will only see it for a limited time.
The importance of sexting in an LDR cannot be overstated. Sending a sexy photo to a partner who's on the other side of the world can greatly increase the sense of closeness between the two of you. Indeed, a 2012 study found that long-distance couples are more likely to talk about sex, which creates a greater sense of intimacy in the relationship. And if you're too shy to send naughty pics, why not try NSFW emojis courtesy of Plume?
As your mom's book club knows, there's no better way to stimulate conversation than reading a good novel together. Apps like Goodreads can actually track how far into a book you are, so you and your boo can read the same book and know where the other person is in the book. Just be wary of spoilers if your partner gets farther along than you.
Look to the future.
Despite having all these ways to connect, it can be daunting to think about being apart from your S.O. forever. That's why talking about being together in the future — whether that's the next trip to see one another, or the time when you can be in the same place permanently — is crucial to keeping an LDR alive.
"Before anybody takes off, what's most important is that they have the same expectations — talking about it, setting up boundaries and rules at first," Kelley O'Gorman, a couples therapist from Portland, Oregon, previously told Mic.
A countdown clock like the app Dreamdays can ease the anxiety of being apart. The app lets you count down to or up from any event, and also set a specific event as a beautiful widget. Seeing the days tick down on your home screen is one of the best parts of being in an LDR — because it means there's one less day until you're together.