One of the biggest benefits of a long-distance relationship is that it lets you pursue your career and education to the fullest.

But what about when career takes over? You might have the kind of job (or study) that not only requires your attention for 12 hours+ a day, but perhaps for multiple days on end if you’re frequently travelling or have final exams. Or perhaps it’s not work but a family crisis keeping you busy.

Either way, you might have wondered how – and if – you can continue to be there for your partner in this situation. But it is doable, with a little planning.

Sometimes life takes priority over relationships, sometimes relationships take priority over the rest of life. And that’s okay! We all only have 24 hours in a day and you don’t always have to be on top of everything.

Here’s how you can make your partner feel special, even when you’re just too busy to chat.

1. Tell them you'll be busy, the reason why, and for how long

Don’t just go silent! If you know you’ve got things to do and you’ll need to be offline for a few days – or even longer – it’s crucial to let your partner know.

When you have that conversation, don’t make it sound as if the relationship is the thing stopping you from doing what you want. Make it clear that of course you don’t want to spend so much time away from them and that you’d much rather not, but that this is an important thing you have to do for your career/study/family. Explain why, tell them how long you’ll be gone and emphasise how much you’ll miss them.

Then follow the steps below…

2. Plan something special for afterwards

Having something to look forward to will take the sting out of not being able to chat for some time. It also lets your partner know that you’re thinking of them and are actively working to maintain your connection even though you may be unavailable for a while.

A visit to their city or a weekend trip somewhere together could be an amazing way to round off a period of low contact. But it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or elaborate – it could simply be a fun date night over Zoom or FaceTime. Why not have a dinner date with candles and wine?

What matters is not the expense, but that you’re giving them your time and attention.

3. Do more with less

One of my favourite memories of my current relationship was our third date.

He was super busy and although he was in my city for work that day, he only had about 45 minutes to spare. But he made the effort to meet me at a coffee shop for those minutes and we had an amazing time 🙂

The point is, whatever time you can make for your partner counts for something and if they know you’re busy, they may even value it more than if you’d spent a lazy evening with them. If 20 minutes is all you have, don’t be afraid to suggest a 20 minute video date.

Even taking 30 seconds to text them that you miss them can make them feel wanted.

4. Mail a surprise package or love letter

If your partner is missing you, what could be more romantic than a surprise love letter or gift from you turning up in their mailbox? The best part is that you can prepare this in advance and arrange for it to turn up a few days later.

Get some nice paper and draft out the letter digitally before committing to pen and ink (in your best handwriting, of course). You could also use an online delivery service to gift them something with a nice note.

5. Encourage them to socialise and do what they love

When you let your partner know that you’ll be busy for a while, encourage them to go out and have fun in the meantime.

Sweeten things by sending them a voucher for cinema tickets, dinner with a friend or something else they’ll enjoy. There are apps you can use to send a code to their phone, or you could mail something to them physically.

Also, if you’re busy doing something you love, why not encourage them to do the same? This is an ideal time for them to be working on projects and pursuing their dreams. If you take an interest in their goals, they’re likely to feel more motivated and you can compare notes on what you’ve achieved once the busy period is over.

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