The idea of a long-distance relationship never appealed to me, and yet, I’ve found myself in several over the years. Of course, it depends on what you consider “long-distance,” but for me, long distance has meant living anywhere around 200 driveable miles away from the person I’m dating. Right now, my significant other lives about 80 miles away. Not bad, but certainly not ideal.
For us, it’s important to stay in frequent contact — through text, phone calls, FaceTime, Gchat, any way we can, really — and of course, making plans to see each other in person regularly. It’s not a perfect science, but we usually see each other at least once every two weeks.
I know that’s not the case for some couples — that once every two weeks probably isn’t doable if you live in Hawaii and your bae in Vermont. But regardless of exactly how much distance lies between a couple, there are ways to strengthen your connection across the miles. Here are my five favorite date ideas for nurturing your long-distance relationship.
Play a game
You may not be able to sit across from each other at the kitchen table playing Scrabble, but nowadays, there’s an app for that! My boyfriend and I try out a new game every couple of months. It started with Words With Friends and right now, we’re on a crossword puzzle kick.
Challenging each other in an online game fosters a healthy sense of competition and keeps us in contact frequently. It adds an element of playfulness to our relationship (but it also can cause some harmless tiffs because unfortunately, he beats me at almost everything).
Plan your next in-person date
No, I don’t mean exchanging memes all day (although I imagine that can help to foster a strong relationship, too). I mean collaborating online in order to plan out creative dates for when you see each other next.
My partner and I share a Google Doc of restaurants we want to eventually try, categorized by whether it’s closer to him, closer to me, or located right in the middle. Similarly, we have a joint Pinterest board (I know, I know — he made a Pinterest for me, he’s a winner) where we each share recipes we want to make the next time we’re together.
Watch a show together
You don’t have to be poised upon the same couch in order to enjoy a show (or a movie) together. Keep it old-school by tuning in to watch the same shows. Experiencing a series or movie at the same time — while texting each other your reactions — is a great way to really bridge the gap of physical distance between you both. My partner and I aren’t physically together for every Knicks game, but we make a habit of watching wherever we are and chatting about the game in real time.
Start a book club
There’s no rule to how big or small a book club can be, so consider starting one with just you and your partner. Commit to reading the same book over a period of time, discussing chapters or sections as you go along.
But don’t just pick any book — pick a topic you’re both interested in, or an area that you’d both like to grow in your relationship. “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown is beneficial for couples, as it explores the intricacies of vulnerability, how we can better react to others’ vulnerability, and how we can champion our own. There are many other great books on communication and deepening relationships that could be interesting (and even exciting!) to explore together.
Share a journal
This last idea is a bit “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” but bear with me for a second. Share a journal with your significant other and pass it back and forth. Write prompts at the top of each page: What was your first impression of each other? What do you enjoy most about being together? Pass the journal back and forth through the mail, and learn something new about each other, through the intimate nature of writing, every time you open the journal.
Originally published on July 5, 2018.