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Top 5 long-distance date ideas to keep your relationship going strong

As someone whose idea of the perfect day is lying in bed watching Netflix and FaceTiming loved ones (okay, maybe with a gentle walk mixed in for variety), I should have excelled at being in a long-distance relationship. During the year that I lived in Austin while dating my partner in Los Angeles, however, I frequently found myself getting frustrated—not with the relationship itself, but with our inability to see each other more than once a month or so. Yes, I loved being in actual love for the first time, and yes, it was fun to have someone to daydream about in absentia, but at a certain point, the old “What did you have for lunch today?” text query started to feel old.

My long-distance relationship turned into an in-person one when I moved to LA last year, but for anyone looking for ways to make their LDR at least feel more IRL, I’ve rounded up a few tips and tricks. Below, five long-distane date ideas to test out with your partner.

Watch the same movie at the same time

You probably remember this move from the quarantine phase of the COVID pandemic (I once spent an extremely entertaining and, in retrospect, slightly sad evening streaming A Cinderella Story with my besties across three different state lines), but simulcasting a favorite film with your long-distance partner can make you feel like you’ve just seen each other, even if it’s actually been weeks or months since you were in the same room. Personally, I’d opt for a thoughtful-yet-funny favorite like Broadcast News, but when in doubt, go Pixar. (It’s a cliche for a reason.)

Write actual, physical letters

As I’ve mentioned, I’m an extremely online girlie, so this practice was somewhat foreign to me. (Who am I, a Bridgerton character?) But now that I’m about to move in with my partner, I’m so glad to have a stash of the letters and notes they wrote me as a kind of souvenir from that strange, but wonderful, time. Maybe I’ll frame them and put them in our living room? Actually, no, that seems smug.

Have an online-shopping fashion show

I love online-shopping as much as the next addled millennial, but I have to admit that I often miss the teen ritual of stepping out of the changing room, showing an item off to my friends, and engaging in a very serious round-table discussion about whether I should buy it or not. When my partner and I were long-distance, I discovered that trying on clothes for them via FaceTime or Zoom could have much the same effect; they were much kinder about how I looked in virtually everything than my inner critic could ever hope to be, and their benevolent presence made even wedging myself into a slightly-too-small Girlfriend Collective swimsuit feel like a special occasion.

Master the art of the random gift

There’s nothing more exciting than opening your door or mailbox to find that someone has sent you a surprise treat—especially when that someone is your long-distance partner, and the purpose of said treat is simply to make your day a little more joyful. My partner and I sent each other everything from rare candy to handmade shirts to (occasionally) fancy Caviar meals during our long-distance year, and while my inclination has always been to call them up and shout, “HEY, YOU’RE GETTING A PRESENT,” there’s something even cuter about keeping mum until the gift has actually been delivered.

When all else fails, meet up in the cheapest place you can

Okay, this one is kind of a cheat, but hear me out. My partner and I used to set alerts for cheap flights to visit each other, but when even a dreaded Spirit flight from Austin to LA was too expensive, we instead agreed to meet up in a third city—Phoenix, in our case—that would be cheaper for us both to get to. Sure, we had to shell out on Airbnbs, meaning we probably didn’t save all that much money in the end, but there’s something extremely romantic about meeting in a place where neither of you live and beginning the methodical process of figuring out where the good gay bar is. (Boycott Bar on North 7th Ave, I miss you!)

Original article available on Vogue US

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