26 Ways to Say “I Love You” in a Long Distance Relationship

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Let me tell you a little story about the courtship of Jo and John. These two kids border on the dumbest people alive. You see, they had known each other in college, but they only decided to fall in love with each other while the two were separated by the Navy and a lot of miles. They could have made it super easy by falling in love in college and then continuing their relationship.

But noooo.

It always has to be the tough way for these two knuckleheads.

Okay, enough with the third person.Being apart is tough. #longdistance #ldr #longdistancerelationship #jomygosh #military #missionary #aparttogether #relationship #iloveyou #ily #couple #couples

But seriously, John and I had one failed date in college— you know, the place where we saw each other virtually every single day at band and had mutual friends and where dating would have been a breeze. Instead, we ended up reconnecting 2 years out of college, when John was at boot camp slogging through a bunch of orders and a lot of tired days and I was a teacher wrangling a bunch of sweaty teenagers in a third-floor building with no air conditioning.

We ended up spending almost a year talking to each other before we even went on a first date. (Thanks boot camp, A-School, C-School, and being too poor for transportation.) By the time we started actually dating, we were spending 4-5 hours on the phone a night.


We were those people.

Young, completely in love, and totally out of our minds. (To be honest, though, we’re still those people.)

We ended up “officially” dating for a year before John popped the question– of course it was long distance. We spent most of that year going back and forth across two states to see each other. I would have cried the most in my life that year with all of our hellos and goodbyes until…

…deployment. A year-long deployment, to be exact. (I definitely cried the most that year.) We ended up spending that year being engaged and separated by about 7,000 miles this time.

So you could say we know a tiny bit about being in a long distance relationship… and making it work for us.

And the truth is, you absolutely can make your long-distance relationship work. But you need to be realistic together with your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or long-distance partner if you’re serious about making it work long term. After all, there is a heavy idealization of being long-distance lovers– the pining! The extremely romantic reunions!

But the truth is living an LDR lifestyle is much different than what we often see in movies and read in books. Of course, there’s a lot of romance. But the reality is often much more, well… boring. There’s a lot of waiting. A lot of comparing each other’s schedule. A lot of emotions over Facetime or video chat.

One of the toughest things about being in a long distance relationship is that it can feel really rote and tired after awhile. While everyone else gets to share experiences, you’re stuck just talking about those experiences. While everyone else gets goodnight kisses, you’re relegated to blowing kisses on Skype or Zoom to your true love.

It gets kind of boring and restricting because it feels like you’re doing and saying the same thing over… and over… and over.

That’s where you have to step in and make it a little spicy. And no, I’m not talking about boob photos. (I will never talk about boob photos. Figure that out at your own risk if that’s your thing.)

26 ways to say I Love You in a long distance relationship. ldr, deployment (2)

Here are 26 different ways you can brighten up your significant other’s day across the miles and create a deeper emotional connection:

  1. Whenever you think of your love, write down what time it is.
  2. Make a bunch of funny Dubsmashes and send them in succession.
  3. Watch a movie together with Gaze.
  4. Make a Flat Stanley of your love and take some fun pictures with it
  5. Make a YouTube playlist of videos you think your love would like to watch (can’t go wrong with puppies!)
  6. Email a sweet illustration for your love to wake up to
  7. Write a good ol’ fashioned poem
  8. If you have access to email, send an email with your thoughts and a corresponding .gif.
  9. No matter how unartistic, draw a cartoon of a scene you’d like to be sharing in real life with your lover.
  10. Send a cootie catcher with different loving sentiments.
  11. …or send two: one sweet and one spicy!
  12. Hit the mall and get a strip of photos taken at the photo booth. Use a marker to write speech bubbles for all the loving things you want to say.
  13. Send a care package. (Get lost in these ideas for days.)
  14. Generate a list of clues and words to create a personalized crossword for your sweetie to do.
  15. In a care package, include a roll or two of really nice, multi-ply toilet paper. Nothing says ‘I love you’ on deployment like bathroom supplies.
  16. Have a monthly musical challenge: email a YouTube link of a song that makes you think of your SO each day for a month. Or, if your SO doesn’t have access to email, write out the date and lyrics on a pack of sticky notes like a page-a-day calendar.
  17. Send a picture of yourself sleeping for your SO to keep with them.
  18. Draw your handprint on a pillowcase so your SO can hold your hand when they go to sleep. (You could also send a postcard pillow. Here’s how to do that.)
  19. Record yourself saying “I love you,” “good night,” or “good morning” every day for a month. Compile into a movie and email to your SO.
  20. If your SO can access social media or the internet, create an Instagram account that’s solely for chronicling the things you see that remind you of your SO. Post at least once per day and tag your SO. You can always keep it completely private (although make sure that your photos are appropriate. The internet is forever!)
  21. Go to a craft store and buy the goofiest paint-by-number you can find. Paint it and mail it to you SO.
  22. Make an index card-style video of all the things you’ve learned about your SO since being long-distance.
  23. If your SO already isn’t on Pinterest, set up an account and give them the password. Create boards that you both can pin to– what we’ll cook together next, movies we want to see together, places we want to go, etc.
  24. Take photos of letters you find in everyday objects to spell out a message. (Example: L from the Lion King, take a photo of a donut for O, make a V out of Legos, etc.)
  25. Use the record feature when you text. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear someone’s voice.
  26. Send Open When letters. (Need some ideas? There are 102 here and 55 more here.)

And don’t forget to save some of these! They’ll make fabulous keepsakes to document your long-distance love later in life when you are able to be together again.

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