My love and I have been dating for about two and a half years now, and we've only been physically in the same room for...less than two months total? No, maybe two and a half. A week at Christmas, Spring Break once, Thanksgiving once, a week in the summer, weekends now and then, and two and half months together in the same room, with two and a half years together total, I'd say we're doing quite well. First of all, I would avoid long-distance relationships if you can. They're obviously not impossible, but they're stressful and difficult to maintain and incredibly frustrating at times. That being said, if you find yourself in a serious LDR, then are here are a few essentials for keeping it healthy (not that I'm an expert, but I have figured a few things out).
1. Communication is a must for any relationship, but it is especially important when communication is the only form of contact you have with each other.
You must communicate, but you must communicate clearly, directly, and honestly. An LDR is no place for games or subtle messages. If you have something you need to say, then say it, and work through it as a couple. It's important to figure out what form of communication works best for the two of you and to use that form as productively as possible. For my love and me, he tries to call me every night and that keeps us in touch with other. It could also be texting or skyping or something else; whatever the case, make sure both parties feel mostly satisfied with communication frequency and type. Be prepared to compromise a little (as always in a relationship). Also, make sure you're communicating affection (compliment, reassure, encourage, and be specific about it) often.
2. Being confident in yourself and your partner is essential.
LDRs are really rough on self-esteem and on trust. I have a tendency toward jealousy and I am incredibly possessive, so it has been difficult for me to learn that there is something enough in me that attracted him to me and that something is something he loves enough to choose to stay devoted to me (and, honestly, still haven't quite grasped that one, but I'm getting better), and it has also been hard for me to actively give him credit for his character and to trust him to be committed to me when I'm never around and he's got girls who are smarter, stronger, and prettier than I am with him all the time. It's ridiculous because he has excellent character and I trust him implicitly and I know both of those things. I had to learn to act out my trust in him and to let go of myself, despite the smarter, stronger, and prettier girls. You have to be confident in your own identity and strengths, and you have to be confident in the identity and character of your partner.
3. Remembering to be graceful with each other has been the most helpful for us.
I think. He's busy all the time and sometimes gone for training and other things I imagine to be dangerous, and he's pretty stoical seeming and not superb with verbally expressed emotions, both of which are frustrating for me. I'm a bit crazy and prone to bouts of self-destruction and downward spiraling and paranoia about various aspects of the relationship, and I tend to be a bit emotionally impulsive, which results in semi-harsh mile-long texts at 2:30 in the morning (me last night for example), and I imagine that is incredibly frustrating for him. But whenever we checkup on each other and tell each other what we appreciate in each other, he always lists that he's really grateful that I'm graceful with his schedule and his busy days and his "nonsense" as he called it once. I always say that I'm so grateful he's so patient with me and my endless paranoid questions (for instance, "you like me as a person, right? not just a function?") and my generally difficult disposition. I apologized for being difficult last night, via text, after the mile-long text at 2:30 in the morning, and he just wrote me back and said I didn't need to worry about apologizing and he said good night "darling". He said that he loved me, and I was thinking that I probably would have ditched me by now, for being so difficult for four and a half months of separation, but, no, he's just graceful with me, and I am so grateful. The relationship will be rough, there will be days without communication, there will be miscommunication, and hurt feelings; be graceful with each other.
I think those are the three main things. And say "I love you" a lot, all three words. It's important. A lot rushes by, and things get confused, but I never doubt the love because every night ends with "I love you," usually with some kind of intensifier to make it even better. Good luck LDR couples. I wish you the best.