You may even come out stronger on the other side.

By Isis Briones
April 30, 2020

Being in a long-distance relationship is one of the hardest things a couple can go through. My boyfriend worked in Burundi for years while I was living in New York City, and to say it was difficult would be a huge understatement.

Luckily, he moved back to the States from East Africa right before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and ironically, we’re now quarantined together. Given current events, I realized that our past situation has quickly become the new norm for many people around the world.

Mature couple making video call
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

So to help you maintain a healthy long-distance relationship, especially during these trying times, we turned to family therapist Dr. Kathryn Smerling as well as Nikki Lewis and Greta Tufvesson, the co-founders of a popular bespoke matchmaking service known as The Bevy, for expert advice. We understand that many of you may not have been prepared to take on long-distance, but below are some tips that will help get you through this with ease and perhaps even bring out an amazing new side of your relationship that neither of you expected.

1. Curiosity is key.

If there’s anything you’ve ever wanted to know about your significant other, now is the perfect time to ask and develop a deeper connection. “This is a great opportunity to discover each other via meaningful conversations,” Smerling told Travel + Leisure. At the same time, these life-changing chats don’t have to be serious. “Find something that piques both of your interest and make each other laugh,” she said. Create a game out of asking one another questions or come up with the most random, out-of-the-box topics to discuss. In the end, you never know where the conversation will lead, and that’s the beauty of it.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Whenever I had an issue with my boyfriend, I used to shut down and ignore him for days. Since we had the entire Atlantic Ocean between us, I quickly made a habit out of it. Obviously, this was a terrible way to handle our problems, and I had to remind myself that we were in this together. “The key to finding success within a relationship is communication, loyalty, and empathy,” said Lewis. “Whether they’re good or bad, being transparent with your feelings will make your relationship much more stable. There will be different periods when you will have to give more and take less, and vice versa. It sounds simple enough, but empathy plays a big role when life takes some unexpected turns.”

3. Plan an actual date.

Whether you’re in different countries or quarantining just a few miles apart, dates shouldn’t be off the table. Hang out virtually to keep the butterflies going. “You’re no longer sharing your affection through touch or commonly shared activities, so focus on what you can do together,” said Tufvesson. “Play a virtual board game or Zoom in with your friends who are also couples for a double date. Even if it’s a simple ‘thinking about you’ text or phone call to say hi, do it. It’s not trivial, and it can make you feel even closer apart than you may have been together.”

4. Don’t ask, just do.

Not to be cliché, but try spicing things up. “Sometimes, it’s actually easier to keep the spark alive when you really miss someone,” said Lewis. “If you’ve been together for a long time, your intimate life can feel stale when you’re together anyway. Why not order that lingerie or send her some? Initiate a seductive FaceTime or text exchange. Your partner will appreciate the effort.”

5. Your smartphone is all you need.

Let your phone do all the hard work for you. If you’re in different time zones, Smerling emphasized not getting lazy and setting up an exact time to video chat. “Houseparty can be a fun app for you two to use and organically grow your hangout to include other friends,” Tufvesson added. “Virtual Codenames and are also two great options to explore.”

6. Think about the future.

Above all, the thing to always keep in mind is that this is temporary. “Instead of focusing on how weird times are or how much you miss your significant other, focus on what’s to come,” explained Lewis. “Start planning that trip you’d talked about, even make plans to make plans — whatever can jolt you both into an air of positivity and forward-thinking. Try not to wallow on what currently is — it won’t last forever.”

Smerling agreed that looking ahead and reminding each other that there is an end game will do wonders. “Set goals for when this is all over, give your relationship something to strive for, and maintain motivation,” she added.