Couples Share Their Secrets to Dating Hundreds of Miles Apart
Long-distance relationships can be tough, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible. Nearly half of today’s singles meet online, making LDRs more common than ever. And they’re legit, too. Research by sex toy brand KIIROO found 58 percent of Americans in long-distance relationships stay together, and with more data from OKCupid showing that nearly half of singles are open to long-distance relationships with the right person.
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It’s not a bad idea, considering studies have found couples in long-distance relationships savor improved idealism, communication quality and romantic love compared to couples in close proximity. Of course, these studies may be pandering data to achieve the desired result, but it does make sense. In order for long-distance relationships to work, partners must commit to greater and deeper communication to maintain a closeness that cannot be achieved by proximity.
Thankfully, the same technology helping us find love also making us feel closer than ever. To maintain the cozy closeness every couple deserves no matter the mileage in between, we spoke to dating experts and long-distance couples to recommend the technologies and date ideas that keep the spark alive against all odds.
The Best Dating Apps for Couples in Long-Distance Relationships
Matt and Alex, both 22, have dated long-distance since they were 16. Matt resides in New York City and Alex is in Leeds. “We were still in school and in different timezones, which caused a lot of strain on our relationship,” says Matt. “Either I’d come home and he was asleep, or I’d be asleep when he was free to talk.” After a brief split due to difficulties with distance, the two have been back and going strong for a year and a half.
Matt, like the majority of long-distance daters we spoke to, recommends Rabb.it, a former phenomenon that’s since been replaced by Kast. The app lets you watch movies with others in an online chatroom. Matt and Alex have regular movie dates on the app, creating their own private room and streaming a movie as the two watch on video.
Matt says Skype and FaceTime were also essential to their relationship. “We’d Skype each other throughout the night, fall asleep on Skype and have 10-plus hour video calls,” he says. “Skype was our best friend when we were long-distance,” agrees Nate, 33. “Whenever we had the chance to chat we did, even if it was for 5 minutes.”
Nate, from Australia, met Lolo, 30, from Canada, while studying abroad at San Diego State University. “I lived on campus while Lolo lived off campus. We met through mutual friends who were also on exchange,” he says. “We were living apart for over 18 months and visited each other every six months before Lolo moved to Australia. We now live in Canada, have just celebrated our nine year anniversary and welcomed our first child into the world last year.”
Used on mobile devices, Skype and FaceTime can also let your partner share on something you’re experiencing. As act as a tour guide as you give them a call at your favourite park. With the holidays right around the corner, visit the street with the brightest lights and revel in holiday cheer.
“Google Drive is another great app to have, because of the shared folders and documents you can share with your loved one,” says dating coach Cherlyn Chong. “A former boyfriend and I liked to drop pictures, quotes, audio files and even ebooks that we found interesting for each other in their respective folders.”
Chong also recommends Couple because “not only is it a personal Facebook for two, but they also have this delightful function called the ‘Thumbkiss,’ where partners can tap the screen and feel the other person through a phone vibration.”
Why Traditions Are Essential in Long-Distance Relationships
Establishing and maintaining traditions are important for long-distance relationships.
For Nate, two traditions kept he and Lolo’s relationship tight. The first they’ve coined? “Morning Mail.” Because the two were in different timezones, one was going to sleep when the other was waking up. With that strain, each night, they would write an email for the other to wake up to.
“We used this as a way to keep up with each others lives, outside of texts and video calls,” he says. “It was amazing to wake up to a message from one another, you’d wake up happy, no matter how long or short it was.”
The two also created their own language, making acronyms from oft-used phrases for efficiency. “Some couples will have pet names for each other, which are great, but we have these strange sayings (that we’d turn into acronyms) and send them to each other constantly,” adds Matt. “While they happened organically, it was a great reminder of how connected we are. We even use them to this day!”
Gaming is another popular activity for long-distance couples. Matt and Alex play games together on Steam, an online program with over 30,000 titles and chatting capabilities. There are plenty of free games on gaming platforms – PS4, XBOX360, Switch – that can be played together online, where you communicate via headset microphone. Some can even be played cross-platform, so if one owns a PS4 and the other owns a Switch, they can still play the same game together.
Websites like Yahoo Games and Pogo.com also offer hundreds of multiplayer games including classics like Yahtzee and newer titles like Plants vs. Zombies. Numerous mobile games like Words with Friends and Draw Something can also be played together.
Nick, 31, and Austin, 27, play games a bit differently, watching Jeopardy over video chat, seeing who can guess the answer before the other. The two met on Tinder and have been dating long-distance for nearly four years before getting engaged recently. Nick lives in Los Angeles with Austin just outside of D.C.
How to Up the Intimacy Without the Sex in Long-Distance Relationships
When Allie, 30, and Matthew, 32, both in Canada, plan a date, they take things one step further and order food on Seamless to each other’s houses with one catch: the food would be a surprise. “One time he just sent me two massive brie cheese wheels and bread,” jokes Allie.
Matthew and Allie met at law school and spent three years long distance before moving to Ottawa. While one of Allie’s biggest concerns being long-distance was the lack of sex, she’s not the only one. According to the earlier KIRROO study, 66 percent of respondents said the hardest thing about being in a long-distance relationship was the lack of physical intimacy, and 31 percent said lack of sex.
To remedy this, the two would send nude images and video clips to each other often.
“Sometimes I would mail him lingerie that I would wear next time I’m in town,” she says. Nick and Austin are similar, often getting naked for each other over FaceTime and engaging in mutual masturbation, streaming the same porn videos.
“Sending nudes keeps the relationship (and imagination) alive,” says Chong. “Nothing quite strengthens the bond than knowing that only you have access to such a private part of them! It’s almost illicit, a sexy secret only the both of you share.”
Matthew’s even gone as far to surprise Allie with a Clone-a-Willy mold of his penis (also available for vaginas, aptly named, Clone-A-Pussy) for a familiar feeling down under. Plus, long distance sex toys are abundant. We-Vibe, for example, operates through an app, where one pilots the vibrations and the other enjoys the ride.
KIRROO, in particular, offers sex toys specifically for long-distance couples of all sexual orientations. Their popular sets use teledildonic technology to connect with your partner’s device so you two can have as close to an authentic sexual experience as possible. It is revolutionary.
“It’s very easy to be in a long-distance relationship nowadays,” Chong says. “There’s no excuse not to keep in touch with your sweetheart or to start something with someone you feel connected to, even if they are on the opposite side of the globe.”