LDR post from last week. Thanks to our loyal reader for sending this our way. It's nice to know that men think about these things too! And I think a lot of this advice could be applied to dating in general and not just being in a long distance.
I've been in two long distance relationships, both of which lasted several years, one failed and one was successful. It's given me a good perspective on things; and mind you this goes for both men and women, almost all of this will and should apply to both sexes:
Know your end date
This is far and away the most important thing for a long distance relationship. If you know when the distance is going to be over it means you have something specific and tangible to look forward to. It also has to make sense - and this is just a personal opinion of mine, but "we'll figure it out when we get there," won't cut it. What I mean by that is, don't just move for the sake of the relationship. If you don't have a specific reason for moving then wait until you do. For example - I met my girlfriend in New York and I already knew I wanted to go to grad school there. I got accepted to several, but I chose the one in New York and had a specific time I was going to move there. I did not move solely for the relationship. I think if you do that it adds a whole gamut of problems and stress that you don't need. If you just drop everything and move you have to worry about how you're going to live, what you're going to do for work, etc. This kind of stress and pressure is not healthy for a relationship and can put the whole thing in jeopardy, then one of you is screwed because you've uprooted your entire life and will have nothing to show for it. If you move for a specific purpose other than the relationship, at least you have that thing to fall back on in case things don't work out. If I had broken up with my girlfriend, at least I still would have had school. As much as you want to be romantic, being pragmatic about these things really is the best way to go.
The second most important thing, in my opinion. When you're organic and let things flow the relationship is healthier. Try to avoid things like scheduling times to talk, times to see each other, etc. On the surface it might sound cool and/or romantic to say you have a Skype date at 8pm every day, but that may start eating into your social life or other obligations you have, which isn't healthy. If you do things more organically, I can almost guarantee you'll end up talking more than if you schedule it, provided that you actually LIKE the person. Being more rigid may make the talking become more of a chore and may cause stress. So what specifically does being organic mean? Well, it can be anything. Something funny happen at work? Text your girlfriend about it. Tell them everything, and with smartphones we can keep our significant others posted at all times. This is another great way to keep up the communication - you don't have to save everything for one 3 hour phone conversation at the end of the day, you can send 50 texts as things are happening (editor's note: 50?!?!?)
I like doing this because it helps make you FEEL like you're there and part of his/her life even if you're not there. So for example, my girlfriend texted me always about stuff happening at her office and when I eventually met her coworkers I felt like I already knew them well because I had heard so much about them and they had heard a lot about me, so the social interaction became easy and smooth.
I think taking trips to see each other should also be organic. Got time and money? Go for it. If you create some sort of system like "we need to see each other every 3 weeks," something might happen to interrupt that and it could cause problems. Avoid things that set you in stone to a schedule because guess what -- you're living thousands of miles away and you each have your own lives.
This brings me to the next point...
Don't forget to live your own life
Hang out with your friends, go out, have fun, drink (if you drink), do all the things you'd normally do. DO NOT be the guy (or girl) that says "I can't go out because I have a Skype date with my boyfriend/girlfriend," or "I can't go out to the club because it would be wrong." If you don't trust yourself to be able to go out and drink without hooking up with someone, then you shouldn't be in a long distance relationship -- and if you don't trust your boyfriend/girlfriend to go out and and drink without hooking up with someone, then you shouldn't be in a long distance relationship. If you start making sacrifices and stop living your own life it WILL cause resentment to build up and that WILL cause problems down the road. Your boyfriend or girlfriend should be a compliment to your life, not a replacement for things that already existed. Trust is obviously a gigantically huge factor. My first long distance relationship ended because of a lack of trust, my second one succeeded because of the presence of trust. Also, don't feel GUILTY if you go out and have fun without your boyfriend/girlfriend - if they don't do those things then it's kinda their own problem and you aren't responsible for making sure they have a good time if they're far away from you. If you were physically together, you could do something about it, but since you aren't, don't let someone else's issues cause you to have less fun because eventually that will start to wear you down.
Figure out things you can do together while you're away
Here's a simple one that works - watch movies together. Pick a movie, get on the phone, and start streaming it. Be on the phone with each other during the movie, talk about it while its happening, or just sit on the phone in silence for 3 hours while you watch - whatever you'd do normally. Boom. When I was long distance, stuff like snapchat and instagram weren't even invented and now there are way more possibilities, so figure out what works best for you both and make it happen.
Make sure that the time you actually do spend together is SPECTACULAR
If you're a guy and you love playing video games - when your girlfriend comes over, put that shit on hold for 3 days while she's here. You have a whole month (or however long) to stay up until 3am in your boxers with a tub of ice cream grinding games until 3am. If you're a girl and you love shopping and your boyfriend doesn't, don't take him shopping when he comes to visit. Do shit that you both can do together that you both mutually enjoy. If that happens to be sex, then have A LOT OF IT. Actually, do that anyways. Have enough sex that you feel like you could go 3-4 weeks without having it and you'd still be ok. If you want to hang out with friends or other people, you better make sure that: a) your boyfriend/girlfriend likes those friends, and b) you do activities that you'd both enjoy. Nothing sucks more than flying 3,000 miles to visit your girlfriend to sit and hang out with her annoying friends while they go shopping all day (I'm just using shopping as an example, you can insert any random hobby or activity in here).
If you don't like each other's friends, then don't hang out with them. You can spend the time to get them to like each other when one of you moves and you have way more time - if all you have is 2-3 days at any given time, you better make the most of it.
I realize this may not work for some people - but for many this may be very helpful. I also don't profess to be any kind of expert, this is simply a collection of my own opinions based on experience. Long distance relationships aren't that bad - as long as you have the right mindset and approach and are with someone you truly care about. More than anything, if the love between both people is mutual, everything will work.
Random add: one of the biggest problems is people not being able to realize or admit when the relationship is not working. Too many people stay in long distance relationships because of the convenience or because they want to avoid the confrontation of ending it. If it isn't working, move on, trust me, it'll be better for everyone.