Three Unconventional (And Free!) Ideas to Keep The Spark Alive in Your Long Distance Relationship

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I used to say I could never be in a long distance relationship. To me, they were synonymous with stale conversations, awkward silences, and a constant sense of longing and dissatisfaction. So when the pandemic unexpectedly wrenched me and my boyfriend apart in March of last year, and we decided we were committed to making it work, I found myself with a choice. I could look at this time as something we had to survive and “get through,” or I could see it as an invitation to get creative and try some new things within our relationship.

I suspect many of you are in the same boat as I am, forced to join a club you never asked to be a part of, dealing with something you never expected to be as long-term as it has. Others of you might be LDR veterans, for whom the pandemic has only marginally affected your relationship. Regardless which camp you fall into, I wanted to offer a few simple ideas that I personally have found to be monumental for staying positive and keeping that spark alive in my long distance relationship. The main theme with these is simply adding more variety and play to your long distance relationship. LDR’s sometimes get a bad rep for being stagnant and lackluster, but they absolutely don’t have to be! I can honestly say that this past year has been one of the most growth-inducing and valuable periods in my relationship, and all it took was a commitment to making the best of this time instead of wishing it away.

Small Surprises

What I love about this one is that there is so much room for creativity and variety here, and you don’t need to do anything crazy or over-the-top to bring some joy. Small surprises can be things you order your person unexpectedly that they off-handedly mentioned they needed or wanted, or just something you know will make them smile. I have loved sending books to my boyfriend that made me think of him, a sweatband for running when he mentioned his hair kept getting into his face while exercising, and a care package filled with his favorite treats and a few mementos of our relationship. The best surprises are ones that show your person that you really care and pay attention to their needs and wants. I am also a big proponent of sending good old-fashioned love letters. They might seem cliche, but there is something about a hand-written expression of love that is so much more special and romantic than reading those same words in an email or text. Bonus points for adding a lipstick kiss or a light spritz of your perfume to add that extra touch of you. 

Silent Facetime

This is actually something I started doing in college, long before I was in a relationship. Whenever I was working on my computer or just wanted some company while doing tedious tasks, I would call my mom or one of my friends on Facetime, and we would both silently work on our own things. Not only did it make the task much less tedious and help me avoid procrastination (because I had the other person keeping me accountable), but it also felt like I was spending time with someone I love even when I didn’t have time to talk. This has been such a great practice in my long-distance relationship too. It’s really nice not to feel like I have to choose between seeing my boyfriend’s face and completing an important project, and having this practice in place means we stay connected even in hectic times. There is also something about the simplicity of doing mundane tasks together that is very reminiscent of being in the same place physically and helps you forget, even for a moment, that you are apart. 

Weekly Virtual Date Nights

Obviously the actual regularity of these will depend on both of your schedules and your specific desires, but I find that having a steady standing date really works in both giving us something to look forward to every week and also keeping the spark alive in our relationship. Having a dedicated Date Night might seem silly when you already talk every night, but I’ve found that choosing a special activity for that one night a week and maybe dressing up a little extra has this amazing effect of making it feel like an actual date. I’m talking butterflies and everything! 

I love to spice this one up by varying the date activity every week. Sometimes we will watch a movie or comedy show on Netflix via a group streaming software like Teleparty. Other times we will do some Get to Know You questions (Google these; you will be shocked at how much you can learn about even your long-term partner!). And sometimes we just end up talking, but the conversation always feels particularly special and meaningful. Almost like how the conversations you have in a restaurant over wine are going to feel completely different than those you have at the dinner table on a regular night at home.

Long distance relationships certainly require work, but so do all other relationships. Remember that it is up to you to receive the gifts that this challenging time is offering you, so you can come out of it stronger and better. By looking at this situation as an opportunity to grow and deepen your relationship like never before, you will be able to not just survive this time but truly thrive. 

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Advice from a Twenty Something