I remember being in a long distance relationship (LDR) a couple years ago that made me feel like I was losing my mind. My life and happiness revolved around when I was going to see my boyfriend next. It was almost like I forgot how to function as a single person…despite having been single basically my whole life.
Suddenly, my days just became me staring at my phone during work, waiting to get text messages from him. My nights became me waiting for a FaceTime call. I knew this wasn’t healthy, especially for someone like me who suffers from depression and anxiety
When you’re first navigating the ins and outs of a long distance relationship, it can be really hard to find the balance between your day-to-day life and the relationship, but there are certainly ways to make it work. Here are 7 tips you can follow to maintain good mental health and keep your sanity while you’re in a long distance relationship.
Have your own hobbies outside of the relationship
Look on the bright side — being in an LDR gives you more alone time to do the things that you like to do without having to compromise with your partner.
Think back to when you were single. What activities did you enjoy doing alone or with your friends? Maybe it’s time to get back into painting or yoga, or take up a brand new hobby that you’ve always been interested in learning about. Having something you’re passionate about other than your partner is a great way to spend time in a way that helps you build confidence, and feel valued and accomplished.
Plus, trying something new is a great way to make new friends! It’s a lot easier to curl up on the couch and binge watch some Netflix, but let’s be real — it’s way more rewarding to actually do something.
Don’t bottle up your feelings
Long distance relationships can truly be emotional rollercoasters. There are high highs and low lows. Relationships of any kind can bring up a lot of feelings. So whether it’s in a journal, to a friend, family member, Facebook group, or therapist, let it all out! Keeping your feelings bottled up will only make you feel anxious, and you’re bound to explode when you reach your breaking point.
That said, don’t bottle up your feelings with your partner, either. If something is bothering you, tell them. Communicate and work it out. Just like with a “regular” relationship, you don’t want to wait until you’ve reached your last straw to voice your concerns about an issue.
Focus on maintaining your other relationships
One thing that can happen a lot in “regular” relationships is that someone spends so much time hanging out with their partner that they neglect their relationships with friends and family.
Luckily, when you’re in a long distance relationship, you have extra time to really work on fostering healthy relationships with your loved ones. Plan fun things to do in advance, things like potluck dinners or movie nights, so that you have something to look forward to outside of your relationship.
Have realistic expectations
It’s good to think positively, but at the same time, you want to be realistic when you’re in a long distance relationship.
For example, while you might be wishing your partner would text you all day, everyday, while you’re both at work, it’s not really realistic or healthy. You might want to FaceTime before bed every single night, but again, it’s not super realistic. You and your partner have your own lives in separate places and you won’t always be available to video chat at the same time…especially when different time zones come into play.
Another important aspect is to realistically communicate about is the “end goal” of the relationship. Do you want to be long distance forever? Probably not. You’ll have to discuss what you want your future to look like together, and if it’s possible to achieve the goal of living in the same place. If you aren’t on the same page with your expectations and hopes for the future, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship.
Join a support group
It’s easy to feel alone when you’re in a long distance relationship. What better way to get support than to chat with people who are in the exact same position as you?
There are plenty of LDR support groups and forums to join online. In these groups you can share your own experiences, ask for advice, give advice, and maybe even make friends who live in your area who you can hang out with in person.
One example is Long Distance Relationships: Advice & Support Group on Facebook, which has over 1,900 members! There are also a couple active subreddits on the forum site Reddit, such as r/LDR and r/LongDistance.
Take yourself out on dates & love yourself
Just because you can’t have regular date nights with your partner doesn’t mean that you can’t romance yourself. Treat yourself to nice dinners, go for a walk in your favorite park, or take a candlelit bath. Think of it as self care!
Loving and pampering yourself is just as important as loving and pampering your partner. While you fall deeper in love with your partner, remember to continue to fall in love with yourself.
Don’t neglect your (solo) sex life
Didn’t think I’d leave this one out, did you? Sex is important in any relationship…even long distance ones. Just because you can’t have sex with your partner doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself!
In fact, masturbation is great for de-stressing. Plus, it’s beneficial to your sex life in general because you can learn more about what you like and don’t like, and have more regular orgasms. Of course, if you’re comfortable with it, you can also experiment with sexting or phone sex with your partner, too!
Long Distance Relationships Aren’t Easy, But They Can Be Healthy
Don’t let your long distance relationship wreck your mental health. Being in good spirits and maintaining your well being will help you be the best you can be for your partner and your relationship. LDRs are not easy, so give yourself a pat on the back for giving it a go and trying your best — and always remember to take care of yourself first.
If you’re struggling with being far from your partner and it’s impacting your relationship, consider online couple’s counseling with a licensed therapist — a convenient, inexpensive way to get back on track.