Ask An Adult: How Do You Make A Long Distance Relationship Work?

Writer Hilary Freeman knows a thing or two about being in a long distance relationship after being in one for three years - but how do you actually make them work? Illustration by Beth Hoeckel


by Hilary Freeman |

My boyfriend Mickael’s plane had just touched down at Luton airport, when a woman tapped him on the shoulder and said: ‘Excuse me, but aren’t you Hilary Freeman’s boyfriend?’

’Yes,’ he replied, flummoxed. ‘How on earth did you know that?’

‘Oh, we’ve never met,’ she said. ‘But I recognised you from her pictures on Facebook.’

Welcome to the long-distance relationship, Twenty-First Century style, where social media is everything. But not always negative. According to the latest research, new technology means couples in long distance relationships are as happy and as sexually satisfied as conventional, face-to-face couples, and their relationships are actually often more intimate.

So how do you make a long distance relationship work when you’re in one place/country and he’s in another? When you’re at university and everyone is doing it, it’s easy. It’s not such a breeze when you leave and have to factor in building a career, flat-sharing and juggling your friend commitments. As a veteran of a three-year long Anglo/French long distance relationship, here’s what I’ve learned about successful long-distance love:

You’ll need a good wi-fi connection

My first attempt at a long distance relationshiup failed, aged 15, when my holiday romance failed to reply to my handwritten love letter. Now, there’s no excuse for not keeping in touch. Texting, cheap phone calls abroad, Skype, Facebook and Twitter - to name just a few - mean that you can communicate 24/7. You can even take your iPad to bed. Setting aside time for deep and meaningful chats is essential, whether you’re speaking or typing. Mickael first told me he loved me on Google Chat, which kindly keeps a record of all your conversations for rereading the next day. I still have it. Unfortunately, I also have a few saucy photos, which I have deleted several times, but which keep popping back up.

You must keep the green-eyed monster in check

Trust is essential in an long distance relationship, especially when he’s at a beach party 600 miles away, and you’re stuck at home watching Eastenders. Setting aside time to meet each other’s friends during visits helps, as do ‘I love you’ texts from the aforementioned party. I befriended his mates on Facebook to stay in the loop, but resisted the urge to trawl his photos for evidence of misdemeanours. Mickael always emailed me when he got home from a night out, even when he knew I was asleep, so that I’d wake up knowing he’d been thinking of me. That’s romance.

You can’t be shy

Webcams could have been invented for long distance relationships. While it’s no substitute for the real thing - and you probably don’t want to try Durex’s vibrating underwear app, Fundawear because it just sounds weird - regular phone/internet sex keeps things fresh. All you need is a good connection (Skype has a habit of going down at inopportune moments), an optional sex toy and the confidence to discuss your fantasies and share images of your wobbly bits. NB: the closer you get to the webcam, the larger certain appendages appear. Make sure you don’t accidentally invite all your friends to your hangout. The main downside: there’s no-one to hug you afterwards.

Being apart sucks

But meeting up again is like starring in your own Hollywood romcom, with butterflies and passionate kisses. Long Distance Relationsips never get boring, or lose their spark, because they never have time to become mundane. And sex when you see each other is explosive. You might not even make it home first, although do try to make sure there isn’t a queue of disgruntled commuters outside when you emerge from the Gatwick Express train toilet together.

You need an end in sight

Living two, independent lives, and constantly missing each other is tough. Travelling gets expensive too, as well as exhausting. And you miss out on work opportunities and social events because you’re always away. After three and a half years, Mickael has just moved in with me in London. I miss some aspects of our long distance relationships, but nothing beats going to sleep together.

**Follow Hilary on Twitter **@HFreemanauthor

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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