Step 1: Set Ground Rules

From the get go, it’s a good idea to be 100% REAL with your partner. Long distance relationships are not for the flaky or the floozy. This relationship will require a great deal of time, patience, and possibly money. If you can’t or are not willing to invest those three, then don’t even bother. If you’re down for the crazy ride that is a LDR, then take the time to discuss the terms and conditions of the relationship up front. Are you exclusive? What about titles – are you a boyfriend/girlfriend, or a side piece, etc.? How long will this relationship be long distance? Keep in mind, there has to be an end date to the distance in order for an LDR to ultimately be successful. The sooner you discuss these terms and conditions, the more likely that your investment in this LDR will pay off in the future.

Step 2: Communicate through various mediums

Text. Email. Phone. Snail Mail. Facebook. These are all great ways to communicate with your LDR partner. Embrace these modes of communication and be creative with them, but most of all USE THEM and USE THEM WELL. Couldn’t be there for your partner’s promotion celebration? Send him/her a surprise at the restaurant or bar where the celebrations are going down. Find a way to make yourself a part of your partner’s life through their good times or bad, by being creative and spontaneous. A LDR is not for the lazy or the weary communicator – which brings me to #3 on this list:

Step 3: Skype is your best friend

If you’re the shy type now is the time to get over it. You will utilize Skype, Google Hangout, Viber, or whatever tickles your fancy and you will get to a point where you realize it’s the best invention since the iPod. Having the ability to see your significant other at the click of a mouse is priceless. If you’re having a particularly tough day and missing your partner, seeing their face and being reminded of the subtle nuances of their physical presence brings you back to a positive place. Trust me on this one.

Step 4: Do things “together”

Find a way to bond. Couples that have proximity to their advantage don’t just stay up late nights having deep and philosophical conversations. They DO stuff together. Maybe it’s a movie you’re both excited about or a TV show you watch weekly, but the distance keeps you from cuddling on the couch with your cutie and  to watch it together. You can still do those things “together” by participating in the experience on your own or with your friends – and then set some time to discuss the highlights. Having common experiences brings a sense of friendship and intimacy and keeps you two on the same wavelength.

Step 5: Do YOU

Remember that just like in a normal relationship, you must remember to do you. You don’t have to walk around with your phone glued to your ear, just so you don’t miss a text or call from your SO. Don’t neglect your friends and family, and definitely partake in nights out with your girls or your boys. Continue to discover your individuality by exploring your hobbies and interests. Don’t feel guilty for taking time out for yourself where you may not be able to instantly reply to a text or a call from your significant other. You both need some time apart to participate in the activities and people’s lives around you. This will keep you grounded and connected to the life you have, even if it is without your partner most of the time. By achieving a balance between times together and time apart you give your relationship space to grow. You can also continue to challenge each other by maintaining a sense of individuality.

Step 6: VISIT often and Plan!

While being creative in dealing with the distance is vital, remember that you have to make visiting each other a priority! Whether it takes a road trip or catching a flight, nothing replaces the moments spent in each other’s company. The time spent in each other’s presence helps you reconnect as a couple and allows your relationship to move forward. If travel costs are high and you’re on a budget, make your visits a priority by saving and cutting costs. Surely your relationship means more than that new Tory Burch bag or those Beats by Dre, and maybe you can cut back on eating out or those hefty happy hour bar tabs. On the flip side, you want to make sure that you’re not the only one making those visits and that the both of you are sharing the cost of visiting each other. Another important tip – at the end of your visit with your honey, it may be a good thing to have a rough idea of the next time you will see each other. This makes the emotional good bye’s a tad bit easier – knowing that you only have 6 weeks 4 days, 8 hours, 45 minutes and 30 seconds till you see each other again.

Step 7: No matter what that glass of yours is HALF FULL!

BE POSITIVE. I cannot emphasize this enough. No one likes to hear Negative Nancy complain about how much she misses her boyfriend and how horrible it is that you are far apart. The distance is a given and is a part of the package – it’s what you signed up for when discussing terms and conditions in Step 1. It is what it is. Embrace your situation and refuse to see the glass half empty. You have a loving partner who is supportive and committed to you thousands and thousands of miles away. Celebrate your connection and friendship rather than focusing on what you’re missing out on. Focusing on the negative will only give rise to more negativity which will eventually seep into your relationship. If you followed Step 1 thoroughly, then you will realize that the distance is only a temporary situation and that the best thing you can do is to make the best of your LDR in the present moment. If you can’t handle the distance, then its to accept that this relationship is not for you.