~ September 2022 ~
No one likes being away from their partner, and the longer the distance, the harder it can be to keep the love alive.
But when you feel like you’ve run out of things to say over the phone and you’ve already argued about whose WiFi is worse, it’s great to have a list of long-distance date ideas in your back pocket that are sure to bring you and your partner closer than ever.
Don’t let the distance stop you and your S.O. from making new memories together. It may not ever be as nice as your connection face-to-face, but your time apart doesn’t have to be a loss.
Plus, it’s important to maintain intimacy while being apart. We spoke to expert Chelsie Reed, P.h.D., L.P.C., a mental health counselor and author of Sexpert: Desire, Passion, Sensations, Intimacy, and Orgasm to Indulge in Your Best Sex Life, who says “intimacy is having a connection including trust, vulnerability, acceptance, and validation. Intimacy is also a word used to mean sex—which can be a physical expression of emotional intimacy. Both are important to create an appreciation and understanding of someone and to feel appreciated and understood.” Both can be hard to maintain long-distance even in our high-tech connected lives because in-person connection cannot be replaced by technology, but there are things you can do to help keep the love alive and your bond strong.
Here are some ideas!
Best Long Distance Date Ideas
No matter the distance, a healthy competition always brings you closer together with your loved ones! There are countless options for virtual games, from battleship to scrabble, even checkers! To raise your game to be even more interactive, video games are a great option too.
You can also try Jackbox Games, which is known for action-packed, humorous party games such as Fibbage and Quiplash. Using your smartphone as your controller, it’s easy to play these games virtually through Zoom (here’s a quick tutorial), and you can create customized episodes for a themed date night.
Start a book club
Listening to a chapter or two of an audiobook together via video chat is a great way to get into a book together, literally on the same page! And as all book club members know, half the fun is deciding on the title, so work with your S.O. to create a list of top contenders. (Feel free to include some romance to get those intimacy sparks flying!)
Having a book you can both bond and analyze over is a great way to stay connected. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn about a person by the way they dissect Heathcliff or Holden Caulfield…just sayin’.
Take a virtual museum tour
Roaming around an art museum is a favorite past-time for a date for a reason. Spending time together while admiring and discussing what you see with your partner. Fortunately, there are plenty of virtual tours online you can choose from so that you and your partner can roam together from the comfort of your couch.
Here’s a list of participating museums, including the Guggenheim, the British Museum, even the famous Musee D’Orsay in Paris, known for its extensive collection of Van Goghs, Monets, and more.
Once you’ve turned the lights off and the popcorn ready, pick a new show or movie to watch together. Although you can try to click play at the same time and FaceTime all at once, Netflix’s Watch Party feature keeps everyone’s videos playing in sync, automatically. Plus, there’s a chat to share your thoughts and reactions with everyone in your watch part right alongside the video, for those of us who don’t want talkers during the movie.
Have your own wine or beer tasting
If you miss sharing happy hour drinks with your partner, there’s nothing stopping you from having your own happy hour at home! Compare your tastings as you sample a vino or a few brews together.
Decide on a winery or brewery and order in advance or order from a company like In Good Taste Wines, which specializes in by-the-glass patented tasting flights like the California Wine Mixer and Wild Child Flight (both $65 for eight wines).
For a non-alcoholic adventure, the options are virtually endless, but if you’re not kombucha or coffee fans, try the Discovery Pack ($18) from Partake Brewing with Blonde, Pale, Red, IPA, and Stout non-alcoholic beers.
Arrange a fancy dinner date at home.
Sometimes you need a reason to get dressed up and feel good with your partner. So make it an all-out black tie date night at home, get out that dress you never have an occasion to wear, put on your favorite perfume and remind your S.O. how good you look!
If you want to up the ante, set the mood with a romantic playlist, light some candles, and pop open a bottle of bubbly. Then, order each other a ~surprise~ food delivery you can both eat together in front of the camera. Bon Appetit!
Plan a future trip
There’s nothing quite as exciting as creating an itinerary for your dream vacation. Even if you and your S.O. aren’t planning on hitting the road or jetting off anytime soon, you can still start your traveling bucket list with your partner and think about what you want to do where.
If you don’t want to just jot it down on paper, head to the “Saved” tab under “Your Places” in Google Maps and click the “+” icon to create a new map where you can save hotels, restaurants, museums, and other activities. Share the link with your partner to add or edit as they please.
Does anyone else like to pretend they have a multi-million dollar budget and go house hunting on Zillow, or is that just me?
Look at dream homes in an area you would both like to live in (hopefully not too far in the future!) and discuss the pros and cons. You’ll have endless fun talking over each other’s favorite interior design and architectural styles and soon enough, you’ll be picturing what life will be like once your distance is over.
Create a themed photo album together
It’s easy enough to create a shared album together, either through your iCloud or an app like Google Drive or Dropbox. Decide on a theme together, maybe a vacation or an anniversary, and make your selection. Once you’ve had fun reliving all the memories and you’ve made your final choices, treat each other to a photo collage designed by indie artists from Minted, a custom-printed photo album, or a digital picture frame from Aura, a simple photo-sharing app and IRL frame that lets you line up photos in advance and share them to each other’s frame one by one.
Take a stroll or share a hike
If you want to get out of the house and get those steps, hit the trails for a date in nature! You and your partner can both take a walk or a hike while you chat, stopping to point out things of interest or just nice views.
Even better, add a little competition for who can get X amount of steps in before the end of the walk using your favorite pedometer or fitness tracker. It’s a good way to get your blood pumping and have something to do that isn’t just staring at a screen.
Up for a little more adventure? Create a scavenger hunt with a checklist of items like birds, trees, wildlife species, and bodies of water to see who can tick everything off first.
Connect through music via Spotify
Music is a great mechanism for us to connect with our significant others, sometimes a song can show our feelings much easier than through a text.
Using Spotify’s Group Sessions feature, you can share your favorite songs with your date as you’re listening to them or have much deeper conversations by sending each other prompts like “Play a song that reminds you of me” or “Play a song that makes you want to dance with me.” You’ll be falling in love all over again, and in no time, you’ll be asking “Play a song you want to play at our wedding”!
Cook each other favorite foods together
Possibly the only better way to connect than with music is through food. Before your date, email your partner a favorite recipe from your childhood (be sure to do so a few days in advance to leave time for food shopping) and have them do the same. When you’re ready to cook, set up any tech you’ll need to share video in the kitchen.
You can spend time cooking together, talking about childhood memories, all the while making new memories with each other! Plus, you can enjoy all the amazing food you make too. YUM. (Alternatively, check out our favorite recipes developed by the Prevention Test Kitchen for less nostalgia but an equally delicious outcome).
Attend a virtual cooking class together
If you and your partner want to take the cooking to the next level, sign up to attend a virtual cooking class together! You can try a virtual cooking class with a personal chef from a website like 100 Pleats or Sur La Table, or sign-up for a local virtual cooking class near you.
Assess your ~compatibility~
Astrology isn’t everything, but it can be fun to learn about each other’s sun, moon, and rising signs and see why you get along so well or maybe even some reasons why you butt heads from time to time! Once you’ve figured out what your chart looks like, look up your ~compatibility~ online and discuss whether you agree or disagree on everything said.
To look at your full chart, you and your partner will need to know what time you were born. However, there is plenty to know just from your birthday if you don’t have your birth certificate handy.
Take the love language test together
Ever wondered what your love language is? This online quiz can help you and your partner better understand how you love and want to be loved.
Take the quiz together and then share your answers with each other as you move from question to question. Not only do you find out their love language—which is super important in relationships—but you can also see how they answer each question in super specific scenarios.
Communication starter games
Want to have a deeper conversation with your partner but not sure where to start?
Fortunately, there is an entire market of conversation starter games for couples that solve this exact problem. “Emotional intimacy with long distance can be helped by opening up about the hard things in life—your vulnerabilities—and responding in acceptance to your partner,” says Reed. “Show you trust your partner with your inner thoughts and accept their inner self. This sounds simple – but simple is not easy.
Reed usually has her clients use The Book of Questions, 52 Lists, 36 Questions to Fall in Love, and any other communication starter books or games. She says that “the goal is not to get a lot of questions done, but to fully and deeply discuss each one. Take time to talk about what-ifs, fantasies, best scenarios, and worst fears. These talks that are not productive in everyday life actually bring us closer together in understanding and being understood.”
We’re all under the same sky and seeing the same stars, which is pretty romantic when you think about it.
Sit out on your deck or out in your yard, get your partner on the phone, and see if you can point out the constellations together. Looking at the same stars from afar will make you feel closer than you think. Here’s a list of stargazing apps to help you get started.
“For physical intimacy I suggest discussing likes, wants, desires, dreams, fantasies,” says Reed. “Also, you can play with phone sex, mutual masturbation, and even tech toys that get feedback from toy A and give it to toy B via app. There are also toys controlled via an app to let your partner interact with you physically one way.”
Some closing advice for all the long-distance couples who may be struggling
Reed’s advice is to have vulnerability and share hard times, even if they cannot help. “It may seem strange to call your partner and talk about running out of gas 2000 miles away, but sharing your feelings and leaning on them to help you emotionally through a situation is important. Call them when you need or want emotional support so that they can be there for it, not just get the story later. Then maintain that intimacy with the discussion mentioned above.”
“What I see in practice is that not revealing your vulnerabilities, your stress and bad times can lead to partners not knowing how they act in real life and only getting the polished version,” says Reed. So always be yourself, let your partner see the good, the bad, the right-out-of-bed hair, and everything in between.
A version of this article originally appeared here on prevention.com