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How to Make a Relationship Work When You Live in Different Cities


In this economy, a lot of people are going back to school, taking whatever job (in whatever city) they can, or moving home to their parents. Given that, and after Julia’s email on Tuesday, I thought we should talk about long-distance relationships. I’ve been in a few and I’ve learned a lot. Here’s how to make the LDR work.

Defriend (or unfriend) him on Facebook. If your new guy is leaving for law school, are you planning to check Facebook to see which of his new classmates are friending him? Will you scrutinize what they look like and how many of them are of the opposite sex? Are you going to follow him on Twitter? Stop and think about this: Do you really want all that information? In this case, I say ignorance is bliss. Cut yourself off. Trust him and don’t look. You will start wondering and worrying every time he doesn’t call. And then when he does call, you’ll explode on him and he won’t be ready for it.

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Skype, Skype, Skype. Or video chat. I was baffled recently when I met two long-distance couples who do not video chat. They were all young, high-tech people. They acted hesitant about it. But it’s not like you’re talking to strangers on Chat Roulette. You’re talking to your boyfriend! Video chatting is a great invention, so take advantage. You need to connect and make eye contact and read body language. And you don’t even have to be that long distance. I used to Skype a guy in the West Village. It was easier than taking the F train.

Use a Google calendar. I had a long-distance boyfriend who would forget what he was doing the next second, let alone the next weekend. So when I wanted to RSVP us for a birthday party in NYC, it would have been helpful if he had written in the calendar, “Business School Ski Trip, Vermont.” Set up some sort of automated, shared calendar if you can.

Surprise him. Send him a care package or a card, but don’t go overboard, especially if he’s not making similar gestures. Sure, he’s busy studying and you’re bored at your temp job and you want to do nice things and be supportive. But you don’t want to make him your whole focus. This happens so easily. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Really fond. Too fond. Pretty soon you could be living for the weekends, or spring break, or whenever you’ll get to see him next. Also: don’t make a sex tape or anything like what Khloe Kardashian did for husband Lamar while he was on the road. You never know where those things might end up.

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Splurge every once in a while. The traveling may become a burden. You cannot take the bus every weekend and arrive in a terrible mood each time you see him. Save up to take a train or fly every once in a while. You don’t want to resent your boyfriend because of the bus and all of the crazies on board. Likewise, if driving your car is taxing, take a train once in a while.

Schedule a State of the Union talk. If your boyfriend is moving for a job or an open-ended assignment, you have no sense of when the long-distance thing will end. And the idea of riding the bus to Boston every other weekend until eternity will upset you more than you realize. You need a potential end date. Take for example Calculus class—you hate it, but you know exactly when it will end (one semester), and that gives you hope. You know there is freedom ahead. When the Prez gives his State of the Union address, he discusses our country’s condition, agenda, and priorities. Consider having a similar talk. Maybe you agree that in six months, you will pow-wow about where you two are and where you’re headed. If he doesn’t know and he’s not willing to talk about it, that’s another thing to think about.

Bottom line: Communication is key. Talk about your expectations for how often you’ll see each other (realistically) and how often you’ll talk (and when). You can’t be too fixed in this area if he’s a student, though. Students keep strange hours.

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