People in long-distance relationships face challenges staying connected. Fortunately, these phone tips for long-distance couples will help you feel more connected even if your partner is in another time zone. For variety, use one or two phone tips per week and see which ones work best for your situation.
Before we get into the tips, take comfort in the fact that many people in long-distance relationships stay together. A survey of 1,000 Americans reported in 2018 found that long-distance couples “spend eight hours a week talking on the phone or video chatting.” Spending hours on the phone may come naturally to some people. If you’re not sure what to talk about, use these phone tips for long distance couples.
Develop a phone call habit and schedule.
Consistent communication can go a long way toward maintaining a strong relationship. That’s why it is best to start by thinking through ways to use a habit or schedule. Think through your free time options and come up with two or three times that suit you best for a focused phone call. For example, you might like to chat on the phone at 5:30 p.m. after you finish work.
Once you have a few ideas in mind, think about ways you can make your phone calls into a habit. According to the book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear, habits are more likely to form if you track them. Therefore, apply this principle to your phone calls: Write a check mark on your calendar for each day you have a phone call with your partner.
Relive memories with photos.
Think back to some of the fun activities you and your partner have enjoyed in the past. You might have traveled together, spent time at the lake, or enjoyed the night life. If you have photos or videos of those fun moments, consider having a phone call all about those pleasant memories.
If you have been together for a few years, consider chatting about your past Valentine’s Day activities together. For example, ask each other about your favorite kind of chocolate or restaurants you’ve enjoyed visiting. To make Valentine’s Day 2021 even more memorable, check out Ooma’s Valentine’s Day Sweepstakes where you can enter for a chance to win free phones from Ooma!
Get started by picking three to five photos of an activity and email them to your partner before you call. Tell them that you’d like to revisit some of your favorite memories with them. You might be surprised at the details your partner remembers (e.g., “That was the night we had champagne together for the first time!”) that you’ve forgotten.
Tip: If you already have photos organized online in a place where you can both access them like Instagram or Facebook, you can use those websites instead of emailing pictures back and forth. Just make sure you choose the same set of photos or theme (e.g., our trip to New York last year or our favorite cat photos) to discuss.
Watch the same TV shows and movies together.
Organizing a movie or TV show experience is a way to share an experience even if you are far apart. All you need to do is choose something and set a time to press play at the same time. Note that some streaming services, like Netflix, have special features called “Teleparty“ that make this even easier. If you’re not sure where to get started, consider something familiar and rewatch a favorite movie.
Exploring new TV shows and movies isn’t your only option. Consider rewatching something your partner loves and then take turns over time. For example, if you love James Bond movies, pick a favorite and watch it one weekend. Next weekend, let your partner choose a favorite show such as a historical drama like Pride and Prejudice to watch together. When each partner gets the chance to choose their favorite shows, you have a better chance of avoiding arguments over who controls the remote.
Tip: After the show ends, make some time to catch up by phone and share your thoughts about the story. Debate which characters you like the most and what they’re going to do next.
Play a game together.
No guide to phone tips for long distance couples would be complete without discussing games. You have plenty of options for sharing a game experience together, depending on your interests. Start with these suggestions and pick an idea that appeals to you:
- Traditional board games. While board games are generally played in person, you can play them with another person by phone with a little creativity. For instance, you and your partner might have recently watched the “The Queen’s Gambit” series and you’re feeling inspired to play chess together. If you both have chess sets, you can play the game by phone. To do this, you will need to describe each chess move you make and follow along carefully.
- Online video games. There are many popular video games you can play online if your partner is interested. For example, role playing games (RPG) like Stardew Valley have a co-op mode where you can play with another person. If your partner isn’t normally interested in gaming, it is best to focus on computer-based games. Your partner might not be interested in buying a dedicated video game console like an Xbox.
Share lunch together by phone.
If you and your partner are in the same time zone, sharing lunch (or another meal) together by phone is a good option for staying connected. You choose a time, once per week, and then eat the same meal together. You can both cook the same recipe or order takeout from your favorite place.
Wind down with a good nighttime phone call.
When the above phone tips don’t suit your situation, the end of the time might be your best bet. If you and your partner are both night owls, this is a great choice. You can pick up the phone and chat about the day’s events—the good, the bad and ugly—as you get ready for bed. Even a short phone call can help you maintain your connection.
Embrace variety and change it up.
Psychological research has found that participating in “novel and arousing (vs. a more mundane) task” as a couple may improve relationships. Put simply: don’t get into a boring routine! Look for ways to bring novelty and surprise to your relationship. Check out these ideas to surprise your partner:
- Write and mail a physical letter. Writing a one page letter doesn’t take long and there’s nothing quite like receiving a handwritten letter.
- Order a surprise delivery. You might already send gifts and flowers for special occasions like birthdays. But why not take a step further? Send flowers or a gift just because you were thinking of the other person.
- Experiment with different technologies. Augmented reality (AR) technology can add a new level of communication even when you are at home. For example, you might both decide to play a AR based game like Pokemon Go.
- Use a variety of communications. Switch between regular phone calls, text messaging, and video calls. Sometimes a simple text message like “I’m thinking of you!” can be just the thing to brighten the other person’s mood when they’re not in the mood for a long call.
Pick one idea to get started.
Before you go, do yourself a favor and choose one idea to experiment with in the next week. If you already have a routine to stay connected, adding a new idea now and then can help to keep things fresh.