5 Secrets of Successful Long-Distance Relationships

You'd have to be a serious commitment-phobe to choose to live hundreds -- or even thousands -- of miles away from the man you love. But sometimes it's just not up to you. Career, school and family are just a few of the factors that keep lovers whispering sweet nothings into phones instead of each other's ears. But if you think a relationship is doomed because of distance, think again. According to stats compiled by the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships (yes, there really is such a thing), the myth that most long-distance relationships fail is just that: a myth. The reality is that more couples are making it work than you might think. Over one million couples are living in separate U.S. cities today, and another 700,000 LDR couples are actually married. So how do you stay close (and get even closer) when you're so far apart? It's not simple, but it's not impossible -- and these five tips can help:

Be clear about expectations up front.
Don't wing it; plan ahead. According to Dr. Greg Guldner, director of the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships and author of Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide, the difference between LDR couples that make it and ones that don't can be summed up in two words: ground rules. Dr. Guldner explains that nearly 70 percent of LDR couples who didn't anticipate changes -- or talk through their game plan for dealing with them -- broke up within six months. The most important point, of course, is, are we monogamous?

Sarah Davidson, a 32-year-old interior designer, and her boyfriend, Tom, had been dating for only six months when he got a fabulous promotion in San Francisco that paid $10,000 more than his old job. The catch: They lived in New York. Sarah recalls, "I was devastated when he gave me the news, but Tom insisted he wanted us to stay together. I knew he was committed to making it work when he suggested we actually write out 'rules for our relationship.' These included no nookie while apart, call or email at least once a day, see each other at least once every two months." The rules worked. Now the two are seeing even more of each other, since they're married and both living on the west coast.
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