Mid-Distance Relationships: Here's How To Make One Work

From travel expenses to mismatched time zones, long-distance relationships can be a challenge. In general, surviving this time apart is all about finding a means of communication that works for both parties involved, whether that means weekly FaceTime dates, a daily good morning text, or regular Netflix watch parties. Most importantly, don't wait to express your feelings. ​​"If something is truly bothering you ... [or if there's] something you desire from your partner, it's okay to verbalize that," marriage and family therapist Kiaundra Jackson tells NPR. Ultimately, long distance gives you an opportunity to evaluate trust, building a connection beyond the physical along the way. Assuming all goes according to plan, you'll emerge from the time spent living apart stronger than before.

Meanwhile, short-distance relationships, the opposite end of the spectrum, present issues of their own. They may result in an over-reliance on one another, a lack of personal space, or even boredom. Here, the solution lies in finding fulfillment outside of the relationship. In other words, it's important to maintain a sense of independence. The bottom line? There are drawbacks at every distance, and mid-distance romances are no exception. If you find yourself existing in this very specific in-between stage, here's how to make it work.

Mid-distance relationships are all about compromise

When you're not quite far enough away to warrant a plane ticket, but too far to schedule spontaneous meet-ups, you're in a mid-distance relationship. There's none of the ease that comes with living in the same neighborhood, and none of the pining that results from a thousand miles of distance — it's a special brand of inconvenience. Most weekends, you'll probably find yourself packing up two days worth of clothes and hitting the road. It's a phenomenon pervasive enough to warrant a popular TikTok hashtag, #mediumdistancerelationship. 

To make this awkward amount of distance work, compromise is usually key. Ideally, both partners are able to do the same amount of traveling, this could mean trading weekends or planning a special date at an in-between location. However, this isn't always possible. Maybe only one of you has means of transportation, or maybe a roommate has objections to overnight visitors. Whatever the case, the person who isn't doing the traveling must invest an equal amount of effort: cooking dinner, making reservations, and generally taking the initiative on their home turf. Whether emotional or physical, equally dividing labor within a relationship is essential.

Ultimately, ask yourselves if mid-distance is sustainable, and check in regularly with your partner to see how they're coping. "It was worthwhile to enable us to advance our careers," Herbert Lowe explained to The Washington Post, recounting the years of traveling between cities to see his wife, Mira. For many, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Find a virtual communication style that works for you

When you're not able to spend time together in person, find a method of virtual communication that works for you. For some, that could mean regular texting, others might prefer a mid-week FaceTime between weekend visits. "Doing a check-in during the mornings and in the evenings before going to bed is also really important," life and relationship coach Kavita Patel recommends to Brides. "That way you feel like you've connected at the beginning and end of your days. That way even though you aren't physically together you still feel like you are part of each other's days."

When it comes to video communication, think outside the box. Take personality quizzes and compare answers, dress up for a virtual dinner date and prepare the same meal, or challenge one another to an online game. Finally, talk about the next steps with your significant other — when will this stage of your relationship end, and will one (or both) of you need to move to make that happen? When in doubt, know that (scientifically speaking) distance does make the heart grow fonder, per MIT Technology Review. After time apart, spending a weekend together will be all the more meaningful.