Being in a long-distance relationship is extremely tough, most would even say impossible. I had been with my boyfriend for about 3 years when I decided to move to China just over 2 years ago for a job opportunity I couldn’t miss out on. We were living together in London. A comfortable routine had settled in. “If he doesn’t come with you, it’ll never last” is what the vast majority of people told me. I was inclined to believe them especially as my previous long-distance relationship had failed. Plus, my ex and I were only 2 hours’ flight away, not the 12 hours’ flight and 8 hours’ time difference we were going to face. Fast forward 2 years, my boyfriend and I have just moved to Australia together to start a new chapter of our lives. I often get asked how we managed to live so far apart for so long. Here is an attempt at an answer. Please bear in mind that this is purely based on my experience rather than expertise.   Step 1: Agree who you are together   Are you a couple? Are you friends? Are you somewhere in between? Before one of you leaves, it’s essential that you agree on who you are and will be to each other. One of my very close friends moved to Norway without knowing whether the guy she was seeing was her boyfriend and whether they were exclusive. Things came to an end because they never had this discussion and it turned out their views were completely different. It can be a challenging conversation to have but it’s absolutely worth it. You don’t want to waste your time and potentially miss out on other chances at love.   Step 2: Determine when you will see each other next It might sound obvious but planning and actually booking when you will see each other next will give you something to look forward to and it will seem as though time until then is passing by faster. My boyfriend and I always looked at the calendar together and booked one or two trips in advance. We would buy the plan tickets and then speak about the other details – accommodation, itinerary, activities – over the phone as we’d get closer to the date.   Step 3: Communicate, communicate, communicate Talk about your day, how you feel, your aspirations, whatever is on your mind. If you don’t want to talk, that’s fine, you can write or just express your wish to be alone that day. I often reflect on how lucky we are now compared to our parents and grandparents! The means of communication we have access to are pretty endless. Most of my friends in long-distance relationships speak to their partner every day. That didn’t work for me. I felt bad at first but soon realised that when it comes to communication, there is no right or wrong. Whatever you can manage depending on the time difference, your respective schedules and what feels good for you both is the way to go. My boyfriend and I ended up messaging everyday and calling 3 to 4 times a week. Tools wise we mainly used WeChat when I lived in China and WhatsApp everywhere else.   Step 4: Enjoy the perks Long-distance relationships are extremely challenging, there is no denying that. But, believe me, like most things, they have an upside. It’s up to you to find it and focus on it especially when it all gets tough. Being in China was a prime opportunity to explore that part of the world. Although my boyfriend stayed in London, we did our best to both benefit from it and travelled as much as we could financially and time wise. Over the two years, we met in different parts of China, Hong-Kong and Malaysia. We even met in Abu Dhabi for a long weekend as it was half way (roughly)!   Step 5: Pick an end date The “end date” is the date by which you decide that you will live together again. Not only is it important to set one, you must both do your best to stick to it. It’s very difficult to build a future together when you’re apart. So, if that helps, you may think of this long-distance time as putting your relationship “on-hold” until you’ll be reunited. I think one of the reason my previous long-distance relationship didn’t work out is because we didn’t have an end date. Neither of us were prepared to make the sacrifice or comprise required to be together again. That explains why this became really important for my boyfriend and I. We quickly agreed that if he couldn’t find a job in China, I wouldn’t stay longer than the 2 years of my initial contract. And a year into it, we decided our next step would be to both quit our jobs and start a new adventure in Australia together.   There you have it: 5 steps that helped me turn a long-distance into a long-lasting relationship. Those are meaningless though without the core belief and trust in yourself, your partner and your relationship. I’ve always been firmly convinced that everything happens for a reason. That’s made it easier for me to allow life to go on and love to grow. Tell us about your long-distance relationships – the good, the bad, the ugly! Do you agree with the tips? What would you add to the list? Leave a comment ~ Keen to keep up to date with Be Beyond Borders? Subscribe below ~