15 Successful Long-Distance Relationship Couples On What Made Them Work
While you may not necessarily expect to ever be in a long-distance relationship, many people are at some point, either for a short or long amount of time. For instance, say you live in Chicago and go to Paris for a couple weeks. You're in a bookstore and, next thing you know, you and a fellow bookstore patron start talking, and talking leads to having coffee at a nearby café, and you *really* click. But then you learn they're not visiting Paris: They live there. Then what? You still have almost two weeks left of your trip, so you both decide to spend every minute together. But neither of you want things to end once you head back home. Before you know it, you're in a long-distance relationship faster than you can say LDR. You're wondering how to make your long-distance relationship work and talk to everyone you know for advice.
"Long-distance relationships can be extremely challenging," Relationship Specialist Jen Elmquist, MA, LMFT, and author of Relationship Reset: Secrets from a Couples Therapist That Will Revolutionize Your Love for a Lifetime, tells Bustle. "Being separated from someone you love takes an emotional, psychological, and physical toll on each partner, along with adding extra stress and pressure to the relationship. On the other hand, long-distance relationships can also provide a season of deep growth for a couple, and build fortitude into a relationship that has a lasting effect."
For better or worse, many people have been in LDRs, and some continue to be in them even after they get married. In fact, according to a May 2013 article titled, "Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships" in the Journal of Communication, people in LDRs tend to have stronger bonds from more constant, deeper communication than relationships where couples live in the same place. Furthermore, The Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships states that 2.9 percent of all U.S. marriages are long-distance as of 2005. I know a few couples like this, too. In one case, the husband lost his job and eventually found a new one — a two-hour flight away, in New York City. So he flies from Chicago to NYC every Sunday night, then flies back to Chicago, to his wife and kids, on Friday night.
Luckily, with how advanced technology is these days, and how much it continues to evolve day-to-day, it's easier than ever to keep in touch with your long-distance partner. Below, couples share how they made, or still make, their LDRs work.
1. Susan & Scott
"My husband and I have been together for 13 years and have three children under nine. I resigned to the fact that I married someone in the military and who leaves for his job often. I could have not married him and have been without him forever… or be married to him and miss him often. We both write each other real pen-and-paper letters — beautiful letters without any nonsense about the day-to-day, letters about what we love and miss about each other. People don't write real letters anymore — they text, chat, Facebook... but romance, real romance, is dead. We make sure to only speak a few times a week. When we do get to speak to each other, we also do not talk about silly little things that are going wrong. I have also developed my own life and interests outside of him and have separate ones with him. When we are together, I am not completely dependent upon him for everything. The separations have given me strength and self-confidence."
2. Tia & Josh
"My boyfriend, Josh, and I spent the first two years of our relationship long-distance. We started dating in 2009, shortly after I moved to Chicago from Los Angeles, and we'd met in L.A. a few months before I moved. In 2011, I moved back to L.A., and we decided to live together. When we were long-distance, the two main ways that we made it work was by genuinely liking each other, being supportive, trusting, and independent… oh and Skype, Skype, Skype!
When Josh and I first met, we got along well, but then I moved away and we started talking on the phone all the time. It helped that I lived in the city he was from so he could talk to me about his hometown, give me tips on the comedy scene, and things like that. Even though I liked him a lot, I was pretty gun-shy about jumping into another relationship after having been married before. A long-distance relationship was really good for me because it was the best of both worlds: I had someone I cared about, but I also had a lot of much-needed solitude.
If you're going to do an LDR, trust is essential, as well as understanding where your relationship stands — both partners need to be on the same page and be honest. If you feel like they are hiding things from you (or you catch them hiding things from you), then that's a problem. It's also very important to have an independent spirit and to keep a life outside of your partner — plus, you'll later have more to talk about with your partner. While having your own life is important, setting FaceTime or even phone call dates is a good idea. The way technology is today, LDRs are a lot easier than they used to be. I remember being in an LDR in college when Skype didn't exist and long distance phone calls actually cost money. It was a lot harder then."
3. John & Cathy
"In 2010, I moved from the U.S. to Wales and met Cathy at a hostel. She was from Australia and we hit it off, but our romantic relationship wouldn't begin for another few years. We were good friends when we started dating in 2014, and that history of friendship accelerated our relationship. Before long, we were making flights across the world from London to Melbourne. When we were not together, we'd speak online, on the phone, through video. Eventually, it made sense to live in the same place, so at the end of 2014, we moved in together — first in Melbourne, then London, and now Melbourne once more. One added complexity to our relationship was the need to plan for a visa. Partner visas are costly, nearly $10,000 after all the fees, so that was one last hurdle for us to clear. In the Summer of 2016, we got engaged, I had an opportunity to move my tour company, Walks 101, to Melbourne, and in December 2017, we got married. It was a long journey, but it definitely paid off."
4. Melinda & Mark
"Mark and I were long-distance for almost four years. I was living in South Florida and only moved to Atlanta after our marriage. We'd met through our sons many years ago, in 2006. Both of them played chess from elementary school through high school and were at a high enough level that they traveled around the country to play in national tournaments. Since parents weren't allowed inside the playing hall, we'd all sit outside the hall, talk, and wait. So Mark and I got to know each other superficially during these days, very casual and friendly, nothing romantic at all — we were both married, and didn't chat much beyond kids, chess, and school.
Fast forward a few years to 2009: We connected on Facebook during the period when I was divorcing and he was already separated, so it got kind of flirty online. We stayed in touch casually and very occasionally after that, until 2013, when I was picking my son up from chess camp at Emory University in Atlanta. Unbeknownst to me, Mark was at the camp to photograph the camp tournament. As he was driving away, he happened to see me crossing the street, did a U-turn to come say hello, and something clicked for both of us as we hugged! And that's when the romantic relationship really began...
We made a commitment to never let more than six weeks go by without an in-person visit. We'd discovered that once we passed the six-week mark, it became harder to maintain our connection — little disagreements began to pop up and insecurities (mine in particular) began to surface. In between, of course, it was natural and easy to keep a flow of daily communication through text, phone calls, Skype, and emails. One of the upsides of a long-distance relationship is that we were forced to talk through everything — we couldn't just push an issue aside with physical affection and good sex! Communication and trust are absolutes if a long-distance relationship is going to work."
5. Ryan & Rose
"Last year, I started a long-distance thing with a girl I knew in college and first met over 10 years ago, and it's going really well. I'm in L.A. and she's in NYC. We talk every day, usually video chat. We'll watch things on Netflix together, and literally time out when we press play so we can text during the show. And at the end of the day, we can go out with our friends in our respective cities.
It's hard at times, but the hardest part of doing long-distance with an old friend has surprised me. It's not the distance; the hardest part is saying goodbye at the end of a trip. We spend 10 days together in the same place, having the time of our lives, and suddenly we have to leave each other for, on average, 2-3 months. It really forces us to make the most of our time together. Over time, we have grown closer, and I'm even looking at jobs in New York. We still try to video chat every day. It's been hard because we miss each other."
6. Lisa & Norm
"LDRs offer epic romance, the kind that stems from absence making the heart grow fonder! In between seeing each other, you make plans about how it will be and where you will go and what you will see and do together! Ah, sweet fantasies that often become a reality! (But, it's not reality! Just a beautiful way to spend time!) You will get to know a new town, culture, people, foods — things you may find you are more connected to than your life back home... or not. You will spend money! Yes... you will! Traveling, eating out, adventuring! Little gifts, cards, phone bills... Also, be prepared to be alone — enjoy it. If you are the jealous, insecure type, forget it. You will be out of sync mentally, physically and emotionally often... add in different time zones and things can get tricky! The most important thing is to say what you feel, even if you think what you are going to share will break things. It will not break you. Be true to yourself. Compromise when you need to, but never give up on your own needs and wants. Check in often, with yourself and your LDR. Questions to ask of an LDR is: Do we want the same things? In the moment? In the future? Together? Apart? Know if you are willing to relocate because, eventually, you need to be in the same city."
7. Caroline & Mike
"I actually married my LDR boyfriend in October 2016. After four years of long-distance, we closed the distance in 2015. My best tips are to: set a date to close the distance by — you can look forward to it finally ending; find a hobby you can do together while apart, like playing a mobile game together; and trust is so important in relationships, but even more so in an LDR since you can't be there to make sure your partner is telling the truth. So never lie, not even a white lie, because rebuilding trust in this type of relationship is exceedingly hard."
8. Margaux & Yoel
"My now husband and I briefly met at a party while I was on holiday in Tel Aviv, Israel — and right before my return flight home to Montreal, Canada. After a few phone calls, we knew we had an amazing connection and decided to meet in Barcelona, Spain for our first official date. It was magical, and we agreed to see each other at least once a month after that. After six months, I met his family in Paris, and he proposed the next day in a French countryside chateau.
We made our long-distance relationship work out because we were really committed to each other and to the idea of making it work. We changed our respective schedules to accommodate daily FaceTime dates, despite the time difference. We also made long-term plans that included when and where we would see each other next, and stuck to it. Through creativity and determination, we gave new meaning to the term 'Where there's a will, there's a way,' and no matter the distance, we found a way to make it work. Today, we are married two years with a three-month-old baby girl. Ironically, I am a relationship expert for Three Matches, but I could not have found a better match for myself."
9. Kelly & Marcus
"My British beau and I are about to celebrate four years in a long-distance relationship. He's based in London caring for his ailing mum, and I'm an international housesitter and blog about it at HouseSitDiva.com. For the past eight years, I've traveled full-time by housesitting and caring for others' pets, and I housesit in London several weeks per year, throughout the year, so we can be together. He also joins me on international housesits. We've housesat together in Berlin, Gibraltar, Mexico, and Los Angeles.
Right now, both our lives are in flux, but being together several times a year — along with daily WhatsApp messages, as well as regular Skype chats and emailing — keeps our connection fresh. My advice for maintaining a long-distance relationship: Always have a new trip planned before the current one ends. I plan my housesits months in advance, which gives Marcus plenty of notice to take time off from work and find a substitute caregiver for his mum. Housesitting has provided us the opportunity to be together, and I'm so enthusiastic about it, I've just published a book How to Become a Housesitter: Insider Tips from the HouseSit Diva. With Marcus, knowing when we'll next be together eases the sting of the goodbye."
10. Kharisma & Steven
"I've had a successful long-distance relationship that I maintained for four years. I was in Indonesia and my boyfriend was in the U.S. We were literally half a world away, and we would meet each other once a year in person. I immigrated to the U.S. to marry him, and we have been happily married for seven years now. When we were long-distance, we would webcam every day, any chance we got. The 12-13 hours' time difference (no daylight savings in Indonesia) actually made it pretty convenient for us, because when it was 10 a.m. in the U.S., it would be 9-10 p.m. my time. I was a night owl working from home and he was a full-time college student."
11. Paige & George
"George and I were in a long-distance relationship while dating for the first four years, and then we moved in together and got engaged and married. After five years of marriage, we commuted for about a year for work, and we just celebrated our 25th anniversary last month! When doing long-distance, my tips are to talk every day, try to see each other twice a month, if possible, make your time together fun and special, and understand that jobs will come and go in your career, but the right partner is worth keeping in your life — so make that person a priority even if there are trade-offs in the short-term. You can make it work if you keep the big picture in mind."
12. Jenn & Andrew
"I am an experienced therapist, JennBeasley.com, who has years of experience and education on relationships, as well as my own experience with a successful long-distance relationship. My husband and I have been married for almost eight years and have been long-distance for years, due to military moves and deployments. There are times where he is also having to be away for his job (out of the Navy). However, we are living together now most of the week. In the past, we would make it work by making visits a priority, and we found living apart during the work week and visiting on the weekends had allowed us to decrease the average couple disagreements that we used to have about dividing household roles and feeling the pull between work and home."
13. Babs & David
"My husband, David, is a spine surgeon in Seattle, WA (though he actually talks most people out of surgery). I am a tap dancer who lives in the San Francisco Bay area. He lives in Seattle for two weeks, then goes to the SFB area for two weeks to be with me. We've been together about 16 years, and married for 13. To make it work, we are committed to each other, plan surprises for each other, and have rituals."
14. Lina & Her Husband
"I have been with the same guy for almost five years. The first year of dating, he went to basic training in Texas and stayed there for six months for tech school. After that, going into our second year, he was stationed in South Carolina as I lived back in Maryland, finishing up school. We Skyped or FaceTimed daily. I'd see him every few months, but then the longest distance hit and he was stationed in South Korea. We decided to get married so we wouldn't give up on each other. He spent 365 days there and seeing him when he came back home from there was the best day ever — I had never been so happy. Our relationship had constantly consisted of distance between us, but ended up making us a stronger couple, willing to face anything and everything together. Now, we live together after three-and-a-half years of long distance. I think it's important to talk and share experiences about long-distance relationships, because most people break up before even giving it a chance, and some of those people are most likely soulmates."
15. Rachael & Adam
"I'm a sex educator, writer, coach, and run a blog, Hedonish — and I was in a long-distance relationship for the better part of six years — three years during college and then we were long-distance part-time for 3+ years due to work. We've now been together a little over 10.5 years, and we recently celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary. For us, when we were long-distance, the best thing had been good communication and being clear about what we needed from each other, as well as trying to take care of as much of our responsibilities as possible when we were apart. That way, we could spend the limited amount of time we had together focused on each other. We also sent each other random, affectionate texts, and that offered a lot of comfort and reassurance."
As you can see, there are certain similarities between couples in LDRs, such as trusting each other and having great communication. Of course, no two LDRs will look and operate in the same way, but as long as you and your significant other are both committed and have a system that works for you, an LDR is like anything in life: You get what you put in. And if a happy partnership and love are the result of a long-distance relationship, why not go the distance, so to speak?