5 Secrets of Successful Long-Distance Relationships

Express yourself.

Even couples sharing the same zip code frequently have trouble telling each other how they feel. So imagine how much harder it is for lovers who can't use the power of touch to stay connected. Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages for Singles, says, "It's important to figure out how to make your long-distance partner feel cherished. This can be done with words. For example, 'If I were with you, I'd give you a big kiss.'" The relationship expert adds, "Share the day-to-day events going on in each other's lives. This is all geared to staying so close that when you do get together you won't have that awkward transition period where you feel like strangers."

New York PR account coordinator Kathleen Deegan and her fiancé, Gene, have been challenged to stay close while he's been away at grad school in Maryland. Kathleen, 22, shares, "We've found that writing old-fashioned snail mail brings out our creative romantic juices." She's got the right idea. Research shows the pen is mightier than the phone when it comes to LDRs; letter-writing couples have almost twice the chance of staying together compared with couples that never write. Kathleen and Gene go well beyond scribbling down a few lines. "Sometimes we clip cute articles from the paper to include, or funny song lyrics, and we even try our hand at poetry." Kathleen finishes, "I always go to my mailbox with anticipation." Of course, the email inbox works too.

Enjoy your independence.

Until their wedding in 1999, Casey and Rob Amberg lived in different states; she lived in Arkansas, while he was in Missouri (where they now live together with their two-year-old daughter). Casey, 29, says their relationship thrived despite the distance, partly because they retained their independence. "Being apart was hard, but it enabled us to continue growing as individuals while still remaining a couple. It was almost an empowering feeling to go out with friends and still feel committed in a relationship."
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