The secrets to making long-distance relationships work

Jay the TCK
5 min readDec 4, 2020


I was born in Manila. I’ve lived in Guangzhou, Beijing, Hong Kong, and London. My best friends and I are third culture kids and live in different parts of Europe, the USA, and Asia. I met them at an international school in Beijing, so the only way forward after high school was for us to maintain long-distance relationships. Thankfully, we’ve successfully done it for over 10 years!

Yep, we’re a great target audience for airlines all over the world.

Below are the hard-learned lessons I have gained from maintaining the relationships between each of these individuals around the world.

Lesson 1: You BOTH have to decide you want it

Have you ever wondered why some of your friendships or love interests fizzle out over time when separated by distance? It’s caused by a lack of effort and prioritisation.

Long-distance relationships are definitely not for everyone. Some people prefer in-person contact and don’t like maintaining relationships over technology.

A hard lesson I’ve learnt is if none or only one of you think it’s worth it, the relationship will inevitably end. But, if both parties in your relationship believe the relationship is worth it, you’ll both do whatever it takes to keep it alive.

My best(est) friends (whom I have been friends with for 10 to 13+years) and I have maintained a long-distance relationship for 10 years, and we are closer than ever.

The difference between the people I have formed such strong bonds with via long-distance, versus those I have lost touch with because of it, is that my best friends and I made a conscious commitment to prioritise one another and put in the effort to check in regularly. We decided to keep each other in our lives, and this alone has allowed for our friendships to not only be maintained but to grow stronger than ever.

Lesson 2: Talk to each other as if the other party lives in the same city

It’s difficult to miss those who live far away, especially when you’re in a romantic relationship. But what really helps is to speak to one another as if you were in the same city.

Here are a few examples of how to do this:

  1. Send in regular texts of what you’re up to.
  2. Send photos of what you’re doing, seeing, eating. There’s no need for filters. YOU ARE TEXTING YOUR FRIEND.

3. Send videos of yourself doing whatever it is you do on a day to day basis.

4. Connect with each other on all of your social media platforms.

5. Keep each other company on zoom. You don’t have to talk all the time, you can just keep each other there as if you were in the same room. It sounds weird, but eventually, it’ll start to feel like it’s real.

6. Call each other frequently. (ALL. THE. TIME.)

7. There is no need to set a schedule, just make sure you pick up a majority of the time the other person calls.

Basically, talk to them as though you were talking to someone right next to you, or a few blocks away. Regular actions like these go a long way with distance because you make each other feel a part of one another's lives. By frequently staying in touch you never miss a beat.

Lesson 3: Tell each other how you’re feeling

Feelings are so overlooked by people because society teaches us that feeling sad, lonely, or upset, portray a sense of weakness. This is incorrect, it’s human. These feelings showcase a sense of humanity, and what is love without that?

It’s important to share with someone that you miss them. This not only allows you to express your feelings towards that person but also comforts them in knowing you feel the same as they do. Having this knowledge about each other gives you the motivation to set the date for your next in-person meeting and allows you to bond through communication. It gives you the opportunity to comfort each other in times of loneliness and allows you to grow in your understanding, empathy, and compassion for one another.

Lesson 4: Talk about your preferred amount of contact

Different people have different preferences in the level of communication required to keep them happy. Some people want to hear from the other on a day to day basis, for others, it can be weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly!

It’s important you address this issue with one another so you both have realistic expectations of one another.

The worst thing is when one person needs fast replies and the other takes days to respond. It causes unnecessary stress and anxiety for one party and which can result in annoyance or irritation from the other. No one wants to be part of this cycle of oh-my-god-whyyyyyyy. Be clear with your expectations and respect them.

Lesson 5: Do not ignore the other party, ever

If you’ve made a commitment to make a long-distance relationship work with a friend or a romantic partner, it’s important that you never 👏 keep 👏 the 👏other 👏 person 👏 hanging 👏👏👏👏!

Regardless of the level of communication that is preferred by either party, it’s important to remember not to ignore someone when they send you a message which requires a response. If you want to reply later, just let 👏 them 👏 know.

You know when partners fight because one of them freaks out when the other takes “forever” to respond and doesn’t mention why? Well, sending a considerate message letting them know that you WILL respond at some point just takes 3 seconds of your time. This not only saves the other person a lot of anguish and worry, but it also saves the person who needs to respond, the stress of feeling an urgency in responding to the message.

Lesson 6: Make an effort to hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces

Zoom, Facebook video, Instagram video, Whatsapp video calls, and FaceTime weren't just made for business meetings. They were made to help people (FRIENDS) stay connected around the world in the most personal ways possible. USE THEM. Seeing each other’s faces and hearing each other’s voices will help you feel closer rather than apart.

Lesson 7: Set dates to meet in person

This is SO important. It’s so helpful to set dates on when you plan to visit each other so you always have something to look forward to together. Having a set date can both help you ease your mind by knowing you’ll see each other soon…for real!

Lesson 8: Trust each other

This is super important. You have to trust the other person to keep up their commitment to you. If you are both willing to trust each other on holding up your end of the relationship then you’ll find yourselves being able to not only maintain your long-distance relationship but strengthen it too.

There’s no need to worry if the other person doesn’t get back to you right away. Trust that they will.

Finally: Remember

Distance can’t break friendships, people do. So if you both want to keep your relationship then have faith in one another and that’s what you’ll do.



Jay the TCK

My mission is to give hundreds of third culture kids a wifi home and a sense of belonging online.