TIPS FOR LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP: A long distance relationship takes hard work and commitment to grow and thrive. These tips will help keep your relationship strong even with thousands of miles in between you and your partner. They say "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," but anyone who is or has been in a long distance relationship knows the key to success is more than just absence. Long distance relationships are built on loyalty, trust, and respect. While these relationships sometimes are misunderstood by those who are not involved, the couple who is committed to making it work knows that the challenges posed by distance can become strengths in the relationship. Long distance is not for every couple, but for those who know they have found their soul mates, a few thousand miles cannot keep love from growing and blooming into a beautiful relationship. The following 10 tips can help a long distance relationship jump over the hurdles and make it to the finish line - when both members of the couple are in the same city for good. Tip #1: Make a game plan - When a long distance relationship is beginning to form, it is important for both members to determine what they want to do for the short and long terms. As with all good relationships, it's important to remember to make each person comfortable with the plan and to allow for give and take as the relationship evolves. Tip #2: Communication is key - let the other person know how much you miss them and love them. With thousands of miles in between you and your beloved, it's easy to become insecure, so try to nip that in the bud. Make the person know how much you care by telling them how much you love and miss them every time you speak. Tip #3: Be there for the person in good times and bad times. The phrase "I'm only a phone call away" takes on new meaning to those in a long distance relationship. Whereas people in local relationships can see each other to celebrate their successes and reach out for a hug or shoulder to lean on when things do not go so well, people in long distance relationships need to provide that support on the phone. Be able to be reached when you say you will be, then listen and respond accordingly to the news you hear from the other end of the line. Tip #4: Make the commitment. Long distance relationships are tough, so they definitely need the commitment of both parties in order to make it through the often long days and nights. While it can take a lot of work to make a long distance relationship work, remember that it is worth it because it could be your soul mate that you are talking to each night before you go to sleep. Tip #5: Send old-fashioned letters and packages through the mail. Everyone loves to see personal mail in the mailbox instead of simply finding bills there day after day. Not only that, but it's romantic to see the thoughts and emotions of your loved one spelled out in a card or a letter. Snail mail also gives you the opportunity to send care packages filled with your sweetheart's favorite things, remembrances of you or a special day, or even inside jokes the two of you share. The use of old-fashioned mail gives your relationship a sense of romanticism that often is overlooked - plus, it's fun! Tip #6: Uncork the bottle. If something is bothering you, say it. Do not let it build up because it is noticeable on the phone or in notes if you are not 100% happy with something. Not dealing with problems directly always is tough, but in a long distance relationship that depends on honest and open communication, it is imperative to discuss these issues right from the start. Tip #7: Use technology to your advantage. E-mails, text messages, and the advances in Web cameras really help long distance lovers stay close throughout the long spaces in between visits. E-mails and text messages allow you to send short notes of love and short updates on what you are up to in your hometown while the other person goes on with his/ her day. The Web cam is a huge advancement for long distance relationships as it allows for the two of you to have face-to-face conversations as long as both of you have an Internet connection and a camera. Seeing your sweetheart's facial expressions can often make what would have been a normal old phone conversation turn into an amazing meeting between the two of you. Remember to use these technologies to say "I love you" as often as possible. Tip #8: Common interests give you topics to discuss. When you live in the same city, it is easy to find things to talk about because you constantly are sharing experiences. When you live apart, those shared experiences are few and far between. Common interests help both of you know that you will have something to chat about each time you get on the phone or see each other in person. If you enjoy hockey, encourage your loved one to watch a game or two with you, then this could be another shared interest for the two of you. If your significant other decides to pick up tennis while you live apart, sign yourself up for some lessons and you may just find yourself to be an ace on the court and off! Tip #9: Make the other person remember how great you are! Talk about the good things about your life and remind your loved one about how great you are. If you wear your favorite outfit to the office and know that you looked fabulous, tell your significant other about how super you looked in that outfit that both of you like so much; chances are your better half will hear this and smile with memories of how you always look good wearing that outfit. If you do something great, share it - it is easy to share the bad times with your partner, but be sure to include that person in on all the good times, too. This will remind him or her about the wonderful person on the other end of the phone call and make the desire to see you in person even greater. Tip #10: Plan visits. Nothing can take the place of a visit from your partner who lives far away. Plan the visit, then make sure that person gets all the quality time he/she deserves during that time (for example, do not plan a night out with the girls the night your boyfriend arrives). Be sure to enjoy each other's company when you are together because this is a major part of what will keep your relationship alive during the weeks, months, or years apart. Following these tips may not make your long distance relationship perfect, but it should help you make the best of your time apart and keep your relationship on solid footing until you two are lucky enough to end up in the same city. Good luck!