Being with your partner is fun. It’s better than skipping work on a Thursday or singing in the car at the top of your lungs. They’re your best friend, your partner-in-crime and a darn good dancer. That’s why you chose them, so it’s natural to miss some of that awesomeness when you’re apart. Long distance relationships are challenging, and sometimes 5 miles can feel like 500 miles. Whether you’re busy with life or living far away, how do you keep your couple happy if you can’t be together as often as you’d like? Yes, it’s a situation with potential for storms, but there are silver linings on those clouds. According to a recent study highlighted in the Daily Mail, long distance relationships have some surprising benefits. “The study in the Journal of Communication found that couples who lived further apart reported feeling closer emotionally to their partners
– and sharing more – than those nearer each other geographically.” It may be counterintuitive, but let’s follow the logic. We’re busy. We’re mobile. If we can’t be together, we have to connect in other ways to feel close. In other words, separation enhances communication. Voilà. In addition to long distance lovers, couples separated by challenging schedules can enjoy these perks, too. And technology makes it much easier than it used to be. In fact, Gail Saltz tells USA Today that “the rise in long distance relationships is a function of technology.” The days of long letters delivered by a dude on horseback are over. A handwritten poem may be romantic, but real-time conversations build true intimacy. Luckily, that’s what technology does best — it connects people. So how are couples connecting and building these bonds? To start, they share the details. Understanding what your partner’s daily experience is a huge insight into who they are. Dr. Gregory Guldner has a whole website for commuter couples, and he recently mentioned this as one of his top tips in an article for Time Magazine. No one’s under pressure to send an update every 30 minutes, but it’s the little things that make us smile and laugh. If you hear a joke, pass it along. Got some good news? You know who to tell. Thinking about nothing at all, but just want to say hi? Go for it. Even when you’re swamped with work, a few words can go a long way. A photo is worth, well, a whole bunch of words. Why not send over a visual and let them participate in the daily antics? You’re already Instagramming your fancy dinner, so you might as well amuse your partner with a photo of your sketchy vending machine lunch. If you’re traveling without them, you can send them ‘guess the location’ photos. Playing tour guide is the next best thing to traveling together, turning a potentially draining separation into an exciting game of exploration. If you’re more of an artist than a photographer, share your creativity and send a picture. You can turn this into a game as well. Why not relax with an epic tic tac toe tournament? Try a game of hangman or your personal version of Pictionary. You’ll definitely end up laughing when you watch your partner try to draw a giraffe wearing hot pinks socks. We know it’s not all fun and games. Sometimes, it pays to share your serious side, too. An article about Chrisanna Northrup in the Chicago Tribune encourages partners to pass along positive thoughts. Author of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship, Northrup and her colleagues surveyed more than 70,000 people to understand what a successful relationship looks like. It turns out that happy couples share compliments. No surprise there, right? So go ahead – let your partner know how sexy they are! If those compliments make you miss each other even more, it’s time to start planning. Fancy people who study this sort of thing tell us that the anticipation of an event brings just as much pleasure as the experience itself. So share your calendar. Plan your next date or even a dramatic reunion if it’s been a while. You can keep it simple and count down the days. Or you can find fun stuff to do in your city of choice. Haven’t you always wanted to try salsa classes? It may even be time to book a vacation. Warm weather anyone? In the meantime, set a Skype date like this couple profiled by WLRN does every afternoon at 3:05. When you have a date to look forward to, you’ll see that there are plenty of benefits to anticipation… Finally, share a photo of yourself every once in a while. There are so many ways to connect, but your partner will always be thrilled to see your face. After all, who’s hotter than you?