You’re a grown-ass woman. You’ve had your flings, your phases, your big, doomed loves. And now you’ve got it exactly right. This guy or gal is THE guy or gal. … except for how they live thousands of miles away. Or hundreds, whatever. It’s hard living away from the one you love, even if it’s only one town over, but especially if they’re a whole ocean or country or time zone away. I have done the long distance thing twice, once the wrong way and once the right way (with two different fellas, natch, because once you do it the wrong way, no offense but you are screwed.), and I come bearing pearls of wisdom from the other side. Like, of the ocean.

Talk it out, then talk some more

Know what you’re getting into by having a frank discussion about how you’d like things to go, and what you expect of yourselves/each other while you’re apart. If one of you is all “what happens in Vancouver, stays in Vancouver” and the other is firmly “I only have legs for you,” you’re going to have problems. Actually, you may already have problems, but see what you can do with some honest chats.

Make some rules and stick to ’em (unless you agree to change them, in which case, fine)

As per above, you’re going to need to agree on how you want things to go. How often will you talk to each other, does a text message count as talking for a day? What’s okay in terms of overseas flirting, and how frequently can you expect to in-person visit each other? This is a case of managing your expectations, because, to be frank, long distance really blows. If the person you’re with is someone you really think is worth it, and who you know you can work with to get through it, troubleshooting like this and having a list of agreements to refer to can really help you settle into the routine of missing each other constantly. Get exciiiiited!

You’re going to have sex on Skype. Get over it.

It’s happening. You might like it, and you might learn something. Talk about everything you’ve ever even thought you might be into, and see what strokes a chord. Pun intended, moving on.

Say to no Jello

“Jello” in this case is “jealousy”, and you should say “Jell-no thank you” to it. Jealousy is a waste of your time and will drive you totally completely mental, for many reasons, but especially because you can’t confirm or deny anything you’re imagining from way over where you are. Trust your partner, keep communication channels open, and believe that you are both being equally honest and careful of each other’s feelings/the rules you agreed upon. Above all, do NOT allow yourself to enter a stalk-spiral on Facebook. That girl is hugging your man like she would hug any other man. RELEASE. L’eggo my eggo, friends! (Your “eggo” in this case is “jealousy.”)

Get busy. (Not like that)

If you both have a lot of things on the go, you won’t be sitting around dwelling over the aforementioned Facebook photos, or wondering why they haven’t called, or sad that they’re not there. You’ll be living your lives! Seperately, sure, but it’s important to remember in any relationship, not just the far-away types, that your boyfriend or girlfriend is not and should not be your whole life. If you’ve moved somewhere far away, get out there and see all of it! Get to know your new place of residence! Travel and live! if you are the one who’s at home, reconnect with some stuff that may have fallen by the wayside in the throes of new romance. Your friends will be pretty jazzed to have more time with you, TBH. Be mindful if one of you is busier than the other. Make sure they don’t feel like the wah-wahh side of the relationship, because that sucks too. Care for each other, but don’t go nuts, basically.

Do special nice things for each other (ALEX THIS IS FOR YOU)

When you can’t physically be with your partner, it can be really nice to have something of theirs or from them that is a stand in or reminder. Not in a weird, dressing-up-your-pillow-and-talking-to-it way per se, but a t-shirt or necklace or love letter from one separated girlfriend to another can help bridge the gap in a way that texts and emails can’t. Say, for example, your girlfriend lives in, oh, I don’t know, London. And say you love her a lot a lot a lot and she also loves you like craaazy. Probably you should put those feelings to paper and send her a really nice love letter that she will like so much and treasure forever and show to your kids. Probably. If that’s your situation. PS you guys are having kids now.

Hos in different time zones

We take for granted that everyone we see in the same city as you is experiencing morning, afternoon and night at the same time as you. This is often no longer the case in an LDR. When it’s last call and you’re getting needy re: text attention, your signif. oth. might be sitting down for dinner and life-chats with friends. If you’re just getting home from work, you might have to consider the needs of someone in a completely different head space, who’s setting out for the night. Be nice, be thoughtful, try not to get drunk and send them five texts in a row when you know they’re having lunch with their grandparents.

Be realistic and open-minded

This kind of thing is really hard, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Or, sometimes a drunken make out happens. Or, sometimes you both decide to go your own ways, try out being apart, and see if you want to pick things up again later (hint: this route almost always (but not always) means goodbye in a romantic way). Even if you’ve had a talk about ground rules and you’re getting sexy on Skype or via text or What’s App–also, I don’t need to tell you to take advantage of all the technology available to help you, right? This is 2012?–things will come up that will be problems you haven’t dealt with before in non-long distance relationships. You might consider taking a more casual approach to monogamy, or find yourself saving more money to buy train tickets. Things are gonna be different and you’re going to have to be cool with that.

And there you have it. I can’t guarantee success but I can certainly say do not send a bunch of really very inappropriate, no other way to look at it just straight up inappropriate and it’s not important how I saw them don’t leave your computer just open like that then, emails back and forth with a curly haired girl from New York (ALEX, THAT WAS NOT FOR YOU). I can also say: talk it out, remember why you’re doing it in the first place, look forward to seeing each other when you can. Okay, well, good luck bfs and gfs, add me on skype!

~ Monica Heisey