Long-distance relationships can be extremely hard. Not only is it difficult because you can not see or talk to your partner as frequently as usual, but practically everyone you meet will have a horror story about how a long-distance relationship failed for them. I once read that absence diminishes small love and increases great ones. Keep this in mind when you are going through rough times. If you have not yet committed to a long-distance relationship and are contemplating it, know that it is a huge commitment. Make sure that you really love the other person and that it is worth it for you to make certain sacrifices. Below are some guidelines to make it work.

1. Be honest about what you expect from each other.  Do you want the freedom to date other people? Are you comfortable with your partner making friends with the opposite sex? Are you going to try the long-distance thing out and stick with it if it seems to work, but not try to force the relationship? Discuss these things with your partner and be honest about your expectations. This way, everything is out in the open and it will lessen the suspicions you have about the other person. Also, you never have to question if you are crossing a boundary.

2. Coordinate your schedules. Be realistic about the time commitment you can give each other. If it works for both of your schedules, plan on talking at a particular time at night. However, this can place stress on you if you end up wanting to go out with friends and your long-distance partner is not understanding about your need to be social and branch out, or gets jealous of the time you spend with other people. No matter what, try to keep in touch daily through phone calls, E-mail, AIM, or other means. Download Skype, net2phone, or phonefree. Its free to talk online if you both download programs like these ... no matter where you are. Also, consider a web cam for a more personal connection.

3. Make plans in advance to see each other in person.  If you set firm dates to see each other and stick to them, it makes the wait less difficult because you can spend time planning outings with your partner and looking forward to seeing them. When you mutually agree on certain times to see each other, it lessens problems that can arise from one person feeling like they are pressuring the other into seeing them and the other feeling like the are too busy and are pushing away from the relationship because of the pressure.

4. Arrange to participate in long-distance activities together. Meet online to play games against each other or watch a television show at the same time. Also, try ďvirtual datesĒ Send you partner an E-mail describing a place (for example, a beach) and a time (dusk). Ask them to describe what kind of date they would have with your in this setting ,what you would wear, talk about, eat, what activities you would take part in, etc. Doing little activities like this together helps you to reconnect and remember the day-to-day fun you used to have.

5. Do not make issues larger than they actually are. In long-distance relationships, communication can be very difficult. Avoid fighting over small issues ... with the communication barriers, these small things can turn into big fights. Agree to disagree when it looks like you arenít making any progress. In these types of relationships, you are bound to have feelings of uncertainty and doubt. Donít make any drastic changes unless you are absolutely positive that things arenít working. Threatening to break up every time you two are going through a rough patch wont help the situation at all, particularly if you arenít serious about ending it. Do communicate honestly about problems that you are having with the long-distance situation, but do it in a manner that is constructive and problem-solving.

6. Surprise them. Send flowers or chocolates to your partnerís office. For an extra-special treat, Fed-Ex them food from their favorite restaurant back home. Send cards for no reason and E-mails just to let them know that you are thinking about them.

7. Share the details of your life. Talk about the little things that happen in your day. Keep your partner informed about what you are up to at work and socially. Call your partner for advice. When you had the chance to spend more time together, you talked about these things, right? It will help maintain a sense of normalcy and a sense of trust between the two of you.

8. Focus on the future. A long-distance relationship will not work forever. Make plans to live in the same city as soon as possible. Ambiguity about the future will add tension and doubt.

9. Never assume the worst. If your partner is late calling you one day or you hear someone elseís voice in the background, ask them what is going on before flying into a fit of rage and accusing them of being unfaithful. If you canít get a hold of them, call a friend instead and distract yourself. No matter what, donít stress over it.

10. Meet your partnerís friends and have your partner meet your friends.  It will help you have more trust in the relationship if you develop mutual friends who can reassure you when you are having doubts. Although you donít want to have to turn to someone else to solve all of your problems, it can definitely be beneficial to have someone else there to assuage your fears.