"We tested every video service available"
Courtesy Sean William RokerBefore you scoff at the idea that a long distance relationship really can work, look at this research. And then check out Marina Lvova and Sean Roker's story. While they met in high school and became best friends in college, it wasn't until a few years post-graduation that they made their love interest official. But when an opportunity to travel the world for a year arrived in Marina's inbox, her first instinct was to walk away from the opportunity, fearful of what it would do to their relationship. Sean's response was instant: He called her and told her no matter what, they would figure it out, and she should jump on the chance of a lifetime. Before her first month of traveling was over, Sean had already booked several trips to come visit far in advance, signaling her that he was in it for the long run.
Another way they stayed connected was through the vast array of video chatting services available. "We found they all worked with varying degrees of success in each country. Zoom, Duo, and eventually, WhatsApp video became our go-tos. We'd try to video chat at least every couple of days, and WhatsApp-messaged every day. It wasn't always easy to share what was going on, especially when my morning became his evening and vice versa in Asia, but we made sure to be open about highs and lows," she shared. "We made it! I think the experience actually made our relationship so much stronger. We're now looking for apartments to move in together over the next month or so!"
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"We used the time zone difference to our advantage"
Courtesy Schuyler WilsonWhen Malena Cahall and her boyfriend—now her husband—Schuyler Wilson were dating, Schuyler took an eight-month work assignment in Singapore. After that stint, Malena took a job giving tours abroad, which meant she would often jet-set off to foreign lands while Schuyler worked stateside. Though navigating a time difference is tricky, they used it to their advantage for their long distance relationship. "There was a 13 hour time difference when he was in Singapore, so I would wake up really early and we would Skype while I was getting ready and driving to work," she says. "And because when one person was awake, the other was asleep, we relied on e-mail quite a bit. We would get our quality time in on weekends when we would play PS4 together (he brought his with him and we played online). That was a great way for us to do something together to keep our bond strong."
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"We used photos to stay connected"
Courtesy Ivana AcunaThough Annie Erling Gofus was honored to receive a Fulbright grant to teach and study in Slovakia for a year, it also came with sad news: Her husband, Ryan, wouldn't be able to join her because he's in the U.S. Army. Realizing what an opportunity Annie had in front of her, Ryan was supportive and helped her pack her bags to move to Bratislava, Slovakia, solo. They set dates for him to visit and made those memories special by touring around Europe. And they relied on their shared photos to keep them going—nothing X-rated, just humorous images that kept them connected: "Small things like texting him a photo of the weird products I'd find at the grocery store or sending him a video from one of my classes, all these small things helped me to share my experience and helped us feel like we were experiencing it together," she shared.
They'd first used the photo-sharing tactic when Ryan went through the Army's basic training. Knowing she wouldn't see Ryan for six weeks, Amy printed 12 photographs of herself, of their fun times together, and their dog, and turned them all into postcards. "I sent him two postcards a week. I rarely wrote anything interesting on the back, but the photos were a way for us to count down the time apart, and who doesn't love snail mail?" she said.
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"We sent actual letters and actual video messages"
Courtesy Collette and Scott StohlerThey say what happens in Vegas stays there. For Collette Stohler and Scott Stohler, what happened in Nevada turned into marriage. While they were both visiting Sin City, they met and clicked, but then had to separate since Scott called Chicago home and Collette was living in Los Angeles. To kindle their flame, they flew back and forth between the two cities every other week—creating a solid long distance relationship and racking up plenty of frequent flyer miles. While they relied on texting, chatting, and phone calls to stay connected, they took it a step further: "Since there was a time change, we would send each other video messages, which were more intimate than a voicemail. Additionally, we would write each other letters, which allowed us to express our love in the deepest ways possible," she shared.
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We always knew when our next trip was booked
Courtesy theworldpursuit.comYou can take advantage of apps that can help you keep in touch with your distant loved one. Or you can be proactive about seeing them: When Natasha Alden, a travel blogger, finished college, her boyfriend Cameron Seagle still had a year left to go. Not one to step in the way of adventure, Cameron encouraged Natasha's travels and they entered a long distance relationship that could cover the miles. Their greatest piece of advice on staying connected was to book the next trip to visit each other before the current one ended. "In that one year, Cameron met me twice abroad it gave us something to look forward to and to plan. For my final return, we got to plan our first date back in the United States. As with a lot of things, it was about mental framing. You go from thinking 'when will we finally be together' to 'I can't wait to do this together,'" she shared.
"We stayed busy, but always made time for one another"
Courtesy Holen PhotographyMatthew Beine and Ashley Vickney met in high school but choose to attend college in different states. Even at that distance, they managed to fall in love and seal the deal on their relationship during winter break in their freshman year. They spent the rest of college 400 miles apart, driving more than eight hours to see one another, and even made it through Ashley's four-month study abroad detour in Spain. To keep connected, they set a few ground rules to maintain the spark and their sanity. First and foremost, they would never go 24 hours without talking on the phone. "It was sometimes only for three minutes, but being able to hear each other's voices and catch up is way more meaningful than texting," says Ashley. "Also a lot of emotion can get lost over text, so that ensured we were still communicating about feelings and expectations."
Another rule they followed? Keep busy, since idle minds don't lend themselves to the best choices. "It's hard to really dwell on not seeing each other every day or even every month because you're going out with friends, volunteering, and working," she said.
"We surprise one another"
Courtesy Jenny AdamsLovers can learn some techniques from long-distance friends, such as these tips. And using the element of surprise is always a good idea: Jenny Adams and Chris Page met on OkCupid while they were in New York for a short stint. But they didn't overlap for very long, and they soon began missing one another. They both travel for work, and Jenny spends a lot of time in Southeast Asia; through a series of serendipitous events, they ended up having their first date in Hong Kong after four months of chatting online. That first date ended up lasting four days, and then Jenny spent a month with Chris. They planned another trip. Then another. And six months later, they made it official. More than three and a half years later, they'll still in a long distance relationship—seeing each other about six months out of every year. But to keep the chemistry alive, they've made an effort to incorporate surprises.
"I've been at a bar before where the bartender has sent over a beer from Chris, who called it in from Manila. We physically fly to surprise each other all the time, also. He called me one Friday and asked what I was doing. I replied, 'I'm sitting on the couch.' He told me to pack a bag for cold weather, get in a cab and come to JFK immediately. He was there at the rental car counter. He'd flown in 25 hours on a plane and had rented a Mustang, which we drove to Montreal to see the NY Rangers play for the weekend," she shared. "I surprised him most recently by inviting his sister from New Zealand to Bangkok. And last year on my birthday, I sent him a series of inside-joke/treasure-map-styled messages. The culmination was him realizing I was not in NYC, as he'd thought, but sitting in a cafe below his office. He came running down to find me. I had a weekend in the islands planned for us."
"We have regular lunch and dinner dates—via webcam"
Courtesy Zach DoleacFor the past seven months, Erin Bozarth has been traveling the year while her boyfriend of three years, Chris Herlich, works stateside. Though they've found it difficult to balance time zones, Erin and Chris make an effort to find common ground—especially around meals. "It's been super helpful to have regular lunch and dinner dates via Google Hangouts. About twice a week, Chris and I will plan to have an hour-long video chat where we'll get our respective meals ready and sit down at our computers and eat 'together,'" she explains. "Right now I'm in Serbia, so Chris eats his lunch in Boston while I have dinner in Belgrade. He and I used to pack lunches and eat at a nearby park in Boston, so this is a nice way of normalizing the distance a bit."
And for an added touch of romance, they've transformed a together-tradition into one that travels well. When they lived together in Boston, they left one another a daily Post-It with a reason why they loved the other. "We've continued that this year by saying goodnight every night with a reason why we love each other, just via text message. These are a bit harder to collect than the Post-Its, but it's been a great way to express how we're progressing despite the distance," she said.
"We use Snapchat to be in the moment, together"
Courtesy Julissa MuschlitzJulissa Muschlitz and her boyfriend Graham have been together for such a long time that they've actually been through separate stints of long-distance love. After high school, they attempted—and failed—at a long-distance relationship at separate colleges four hours apart. After a 14-month break, they rekindled their relationship. Several years—and many lessons—later, Julissa decided to embark on a year-long trip around the world, stretching their love across an ocean. Part of what has made this separation smoother is a simple, free app on their phones: Snapchat. "When we want the other person to feel like they are there and in the moment, whether it's at a fancy dinner with friends, the gym, or on a run," says Julissa. "Or like when Graham was at the store picking out a new pair of sunglasses, and sending me real-time Snapchats so I could pick the pair I liked the most on him," she says.
We have a comfort item from one another
Courtesy Jamie HeulerWhen Jamie Heuler met her now-boyfriend Grant Hauser, her life was at a crossroads. Having just applied for a program that allowed her to travel extensively, she wasn't sure what to make of this newfound love connection. But during the five months leading up to her departure date, they fell in love and decided it was worth trying their hearts at long distance. To help stay connected to one another, the twosome gave one another one 'comfort item' that serves as a daily reminder that no matter where they are, they still have one another. "Grant has a watch set to the time zone that I'm in since I'm in a different country each month. And I have a piece of a coffee mug that Grant made me with my life motto etched into it—'Brave Enough.' We use these items daily and it brings comfort in thinking of one another," says Jamie.