How To Survive Any Long-Distance Relationship

When we think about long-distance relationships, what do we think of? Probably two lovers who’ve been separated by school, work, or some other inconvenience and breathlessly await the few visits they’re granted every now and again. They probably live for the sound of a new text message, a new email, or a lengthy phone call. It’s the kind of love that we can imagine compensates for the time you don’t get to spend together, for the extra effort one has to make in every gesture. And almost always, it’s romantic love. But as anyone who’s moved away from family and friends can attest, there are many kinds of relationships — and many kinds of love — which can suffer at the hands of distance and conflicting time zones.

We often forget just how much relationships are built on the small, quiet moments between us: laughing and passing a bowl of popcorn over a movie, car rides together, the happy silence of two people who love each other enough to not have to make small talk when the food arrives. And when these moments are eroded, when simple geography keeps us from speaking this quiet, almost entirely unconscious language of love and friendship, it can make maintaining any kind of relationship an act of constant upkeep.

It’s up to us, whether with family, friends, or a lover, to make that extra effort to make the other person feel special, feel remembered. And this seems obvious in romantic relationships — you wouldn’t expect a long-distance relationship to work out well if you weren’t investing time and energy into making them a part of your day. But with close friends, and especially with family, we can often let this attention to detail completely fall by the wayside. “They’ll always be there,” we tend to think, “I don’t always need to let them know I’m thinking about them.” And a day or two of silence can turn into weeks, months, even years of a hiatus on your closeness. Sure, there will always be love between you, but we all need to feel that the few people who are really there are still thinking of us, even when far away.

When I think about some of my most precious moments living in an exciting new city, I often think about everything back home. There is something so beautiful, so reassuring, about being able to turn on a video chat or pick up a phone and be back in the warmth and familiarity of old friends and family. You can lose hours if you let yourself, laughing at stupid videos, eating dinner together over a computer screen, and gossiping about the day’s activities — every silly little thing that makes up your love to begin with. And knowing that there are people who will still get excited when they see your call pop up, who will look forward to catching up and planning the moment you’ll see each other again, can make even the most lonely moment in a new city bearable.

There is a certain level of maintenance required for every relationship, a moment here or there of simple pleasures and unspoken jokes that exist between people who miss each other. We have to remind each other — and ourselves — that distance is easily overcome these days, and that even a small effort can yield so much happiness and comfort. Just because the relationship is platonic doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need tending to every now and again, and we owe it to ourselves to maintain the beautiful things we started — even when we’re away for a while. TC mark

image – Shutterstock

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


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  • guesttt

    You could have said more. This felt like it was building up to something but never quite reached it. As it is though, I liked it. :)

    • Guest

      yeah, i was expecting a bit more with a title like that

  • guest

    Selling out.

  • beatrice

    Well tell skype that they dont exactly need advertising because they’re absolutely the best :). Google calls meh.

    As for the article, I guess you aren’t in a long distance relationship so there isn’t much to say..?

    • Anonymous

      I’m in about twenty long-distance relationships, actually. Just none in which I engage in phone sex.

      • beatrice

        Long-distance relationships with friends are great, but it’s different from an actual relationship. Especially since there are a lot less sophisticated nuances involved.  Which is why I pointed out the briefness of the article..

      • Abc

        Ugh, can it Beatrice.

  • Rye5003

    It’s weird that you never actually recommended things to do to survive a long distance relationship other than “put in effort”/”think about home” when this post is sponsored by Skype and the headline clearly states that it is a “how to”….the best thing that ever happened to my long distance relationship was when we started doing bad movie nights using Skype. Bad movies are perfect because we can watch them together and talk over them too. Thanks, Skype!

  • claudia

    Oh I love skype!!!! thank you for this post, Chelsea. 

  • jane b

    Its allways a problem when your boyfriend doenst make as big an effort as you, he says he loves me, but he doesnt make an effort to make me feel special, he says it should go without saying… and that’s why I dont know if its going to last.. As for friends and familly its easier, i’ve done it before and we managed really well. My boyfriend though… well maybe he just doesnt love me enough

  • Walter Anthony Lucken IV

    sponsored by skype? 

    coming soon,

    Why Pirating Music Is Lame and Makes Your Life Worse
    (this post is sponsored by Spotify)

    Why You Should Stop Going To The Video Store and Start Loving Yourself
    (this post sponsored by Netflix)

    Why Your Ex Boyfriend Never Cooked Dinner For You
     (this post sponsored by Cuisinart)

  • Annie Streats Streater

    I guess people were expecting a set of instructions but really every relationship is different.

    “You can lose hours if you let yourself, laughing at stupid videos,
    eating dinner together over a computer screen, and gossiping about the
    day’s activities — every silly little thing that makes up your love to
    begin with.”

    I have totally done this and it absolutely helped keep the magic alive.

    • tan

      ^ditto! done all of those! :D

  • Davey Kuraner

    You want to know how to survive a long distance relationship? It’s a simple, two step process. If the distance is temporary/negotiable, communicate. Otherwise, move on.

  • Emil Caillaux

    Thank you, Chelsea, for addressing relationships that have nothing to do with falling in love, falling out of love, and being angsty about love. Too much of that lately.

  • Serena

    So thought catalog is going the way of sponsored blogs now I guess… yesterday with that rubbish article by Ryan about why 20 something’s need to dress better, with an ad for some khaki company, and today an article about long-distance relationship maintenance with an ad for skype? Come on. I get that ads supply revenue, but at least make the articles have some fucking substance.

  • Nishant

    This doesn’t feel honest with so many ads for Skype on the side.

  • Jess

    I liked how this wasn’t just focused on romantic long-distance relationships (which most articles of this nature are about) and dealt with non-romantic relationships as well. I really enjoyed this one, especially after coming home from college 5+ hours away and having all my relationships flip flop :)

  • Jenny

    I really enjoyed this article, Chelsea.

    I have had so many of my best friends move away and it is such a bummer to have long distance, platonic relationships. Right now, I have more friends living far away from me than I do living within an hour of me. It sucks. But!, Skype and the phone and everything is so wonderful. Otherwise, I don’t know how I would get by without them. 

  • Miriam Mogilevsky

    I really liked this post, but that does nothing to mitigate my dislike of blogs that have sponsored posts.

    • Henry Qiu

      I didn’t realize it was sponsored till I read this…

      It’s not the same anymore :[

  • Tanya Salyers

    I’m glad this was about friendships, too.  I enjoyed this.

  • :)


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    […] In order to make this post a little more credible, I was browsing through Thought Catalog looking at stuff about long-distance relationships and found something written by possibly the only person whose articles I enjoy there, Chelsea Fagan. If I were to quote every single important thing she wrote, I’d basically copy-paste the whole article, so instead I will link it to you: How To Survive Any Long-Distance Relationship. […]

  • kryztals

    this is a story of a long distance relationship of an interacial couple…. they are still together and are updating there journey…

  • Veronica

    I would like to ask,iam in a long distance relationship from 2010 then separated last year december but we back together again.So my problem is he doesnt call me often like he used like last year,hes saying things are hectic @ work as he has just open an internet cafe and says its busy.he only calls me once a week and if i try to call hes busy,he says he’l call me back and he doesnt.he had problem with his cell phone now i dont know if he has bought the new one he just doesnt want me to have his new numbers,he wance call me with a private numbr and he was home and i was on my way there.i realy dont knw,i think im just the one whos giving more effort to this n he isnt.just want to knw where im standing with this,i cant take it anymore.what should i do or say to him?please help…..

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  • Setoshino

    Reblogged this on The World Without Us.

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