26 Long-Distance Relationship Date Ideas & Activities You Can Do From Afar
Whether you're new to the game or have been in one for the last five years, you've probably noticed that some things about being in a long-distance relationship can be particularly challenging (even if some things are kind of nice—hello, stretching out like a starfish in bed!). Here we've gathered some expert tips on how to keep your LDR happy and healthy in the face of difficulties, as well as a long list of activity and date ideas you and your boo can do even when separated.
Making a long-distance relationship work.
Being apart from your partner for long periods of time can be a major stressor on a relationship, explains sex and love coach Suzannah Weiss, but there are ways to make sure a long-distance relationship works.
A common point of tension can be the craving for in-person physical intimacy, which just isn't possible with your partner. Weiss warns that it is "vital for people in long-distance relationships to talk about whether they would like a monogamous or non-monogamous relationship—and how they are defining monogamy or non-monogamy. Is it OK to flirt with other people? Dance with other people? Cuddle with other people? It is better to be honest about the fact that these desires will come up than to push them under the rug and risk going behind each other's backs and hurting each other?"
Weiss also suggests avoiding an overreliance on texting and emails. "Misunderstandings happen, and disagreements can spiral if people aren't able to experience the thorough communication that comes from hearing each other's voices. If you begin to get upset with your partner over something, get on the phone—or, even better, video—as soon as you can to talk it out," she says.
Communication, in general, is the altar on which a long-distance relationship lives or dies, notes couples' and sex therapist Kyle Zrenchik, Ph.D., ACS, LMFT. "You can only have so many conversations about work and the weather before a relationship becomes dull. Since you are not physically together, each partner is really relying on vivid and thorough conversation to feel like you both are still in each other's lives. Make sure you both do that well," he advises.
Activities to keep you close:
"You can download apps like Paired that are geared toward helping couples get to know each other and communicate from a distance with things like question prompts and games," says Weiss.
Have a mini book club! Take turns selecting a book, and then video call each other to talk about the themes it brings up.
Write and send erotica
If you feel like you can do better than 50 Shades of Grey (and let's be honest, you almost definitely can), then get your pens out and try writing little erotic stories for each other. You can either send them via snail mail or just share a Google doc and collaborate on it together.
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Surprise your other half with a bouquet delivered to their home, just because it's a Tuesday. Why wait for Valentine's Day to show a little bit of appreciation? (See also: flower subscriptions that deliver beautiful botanicals to your partner regularly.)
Keep a journal together
A shared Google doc is really the long-distance gift that keeps on giving. Set one up and use it to create a shared journal where you write about your days for each other.
Learn a language together
Always wanted to brush up on your Spanish? You can both download Duolingo (the language-learning app) and add each other as friends. That way, you can keep track of each other's progress and create some friendly competition between you. Plus, in time you can start sending each other bilingual sexts. Hot.
Need I say more? Receiving a thoughtful love letter in the post is one of the best things ever. You can spray yours with perfume and include little gifts or pretty postcards that remind you of your boo. (Here's our full guide on how to write a love letter well.)
Send a gift card
Is your partner always talking about that bakery they love? Or that clothes shop? Organize a way to send them a gift card for a local business, and then ask them to send you a selfie of them and their artisanal doughnut, new dress, etc.
Shoot a movie
Pull the blinds down, lock the door, and get to work. Make your partner a mini solo porn movie that they can enjoy whenever you're apart. Make sure to send it to them via an encrypted app, so it's for their eyes only. (Here's our full guide to taking great nudes.)
Discuss the future
It's really important for the sustainability of your relationship that you check in with each other about where you see the partnership going. Do you have a plan to move closer to each other? Do you envisage being in an LDR for the next month? Year? Decade? What are your thoughts about marriage, children, and homeownership? Pets? Make sure you're on the same page about your intentions for the future.
Order a meal
If you know that your boo is having a stressful week at work, grad school, etc., then it can be really sweet to order their favorite takeout to be delivered to them. Imagine the joy of coming home to a mountain of stir-fry and dumplings when the last thing you want to do is cook.
Stay in the loop
Just because you live in different places doesn't mean you have to be clueless about what's happening in your partner's local area. Read the appropriate news for your partner's city or country so that you can understand what kinds of things they might be going through and open up conversation about it.
Download a couple of different quiz apps, and take the quizzes whenever you have a spare moment. Then, when you get to talk to each other, you can compare your answers (and roast each other for your terrible geography/history/sports knowledge as applicable).
Make a playlist
Collate all your partner's favorite songs in a list, or make a playlist that contains all the songs from when you were first getting to know each other and send it to them. You can also mix together both of your favorite songs on Spotify with their "Blend" function.
Pics, pics, and more pics
Have photos of your partner up all over your house/office/phone background. Seeing their face all the time will help them feel closer to you. Make sure that you take new photos together every time you get to see each other in person.
Send a gift
Virtual date ideas:
Have a special show
Choose something you both love and have a recurring date night when you watch it together. "There are all of these great services now that make it possible for you to watch a show simultaneously while being able to see the other person on a little screen by the show so it's almost like you are in the same room," says sex and relationship coach Celeste Hirschman.
Zoom dinner date
Get dressed up in something sexy, crack open a bottle of wine, and order something delicious in. Open Zoom up and you can almost feel as if you're across from each other at the table.
Play a game
If you both own a gaming console where you can play together online, then that can be a fun bonding time. Alternatively, you can simply download apps that allow you to play versions of Scrabble or Monopoly or whatever your favorite board game is. Spice it up by designating that the loser has to do something for the winner (can be PG or otherwise...). There are also lots of excellent couples games on the market that can be adapted for long distance.
Sexuality professional Shanae Adams suggests having a paint night where you paint each other's portraits over Zoom or FaceTime. You can make it more interesting by selecting a specific style to emulate (Renaissance, Pop Art, etc).
Iron Chef: LDR edition
Adams also suggests that you can pick a recipe you like the look of and then make it simultaneously over Zoom to the best of your abilities. Friendly competition never hurt nobody!
Take a walk
Pop in your headphones, call each other up, and take a stroll around your neighborhood. Talk about your days but also describe to the other one the things you see, smell, and hear. Try to evoke that feeling of togetherness through bringing your partner into your world.
Even though you can't physically be at a museum together, you can go to one virtually. A lot of museums and art galleries started offering online tours after the onset of the pandemic. Browse art together and then spend time discussing your favorites.
You can send voice notes, perform live over FaceTime, rely solely on audio, or send clips. Whatever it is that floats your boat, make sure to set aside dedicated quality time for it. Keeping the spark present via virtual sex is extra important when you can't cuddle up to each other at the end of the day.
Read to each other
Snuggle up in bed, call each other up, and choose a book you both love. Take turns reading out loud to each other. It's intimate and sweet.
When you're finally reunited, take some time to hide a few notes and gifts around your partner's house. When you're separated again, you can give your partner clues on where to find the things you hid for them. Call each other up on FaceTime and watch them figure it out!
Long-distance relationships can be tough, but with a little thought and effort, you can happily maintain the spark, no matter how many hours, time zones, and oceans separate you. Find what works for you, and just keep doing it.
Kesiena Boom, M.S., is a sociologist, writer, and poet. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Manchester and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from Lund University. Her work has been featured at Slate, Buzzfeed, Vice, Autostraddle, and elsewhere. Her writing focuses on sex, pleasure, queer experience and community, feminist theory and practice, and race and anti-racism.