Ah, long-distance relationships. In popular consciousness they’ve long since maintained a bad reputation, but luckily, that might be changing due to technology. As the online world has become more ingrained with the dating world, it seems that long-distance relationships are slowly becoming more of a norm—especially as a lot of relationships are starting out online these days. Those unfamiliar with this phenomenon might ask: so, what is it that people in long-distance relationships are using to keep in touch?
Below, I’ve compiled a list of long-distance relationship online must-haves. Most of these recommendations come from friends of mine who’ve been in long term long-distance relationships, as I have personally never been in one myself. Many of my friends who’ve been in these sorts of relationships had initially expressed sadness and disdain at the distance they had with their partners, but were then over the moon when they discovered some of the options I’ve listed! Between an online group video watching platform and classic video chat options, this list will hopefully contain some satisfying answers for your long-distance needs.
Or rabb.it, is an online group video streaming service and a personal favorite of mine. In Rabbit, you can create a private chatroom for you and your SO and, within it, stream movies and TV shows from Netflix and Hulu, as well as videos from around the internet—all so that the both of you can watch things together while chatting in real time. Rabbit is the perfect remedy for those movie nights you guys may have been missing out on and is fun to use with friends as well.
For the more artistic couples out there, FlockDraw is a free online platform that lets you create private rooms where you can draw together with friends on the same image; think classic MS Paint meets online collaboration. Skyping with your partner while you create a masterpiece together is a sure-fire way to create new memories between you two, but if Skype happens to be unavailable, the website provides you with a built-in chat function as well. For the more artistically advanced, FlockDraw alternatives such as Drawpile or Aggie.io might be better as FlockDraw’s drawing tools may be too limited for some.
Remember the Words with Friends fad a couple of years ago? There are countless other options on the App Store for you and your SO to choose from when it comes to playing online games together—and they’re all just a couple of taps away! If you two are bored and looking for more games to play, try scavenging through your phones’ app store options together; you might find a hidden gem that you didn’t expect. A personal favorite of mine is Draw Something, a free app that pits you against friends in fun Pictionary-esque rounds in which you have to guess each other’s drawings.
Skype is truly the OG platform for video chatting. In the past few years, recent updates to the app (available on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android) have left it with a sleeker design and updated quality in video calls. For those who don’t like video chatting via mobile (or have phones that run out of battery way too fast), Skype for Mac and PC is a classic go-to option—and for no price at all!
On the other hand, FaceTime is the perfect video chatting option for those who’d rather not call-in via their laptop. Like Skype, FaceTime is known for its high quality video calls and general ease of access, since it comes pre-installed on iOS devices. Unfortunately, its limited availability to iOS devices is also its major downside. For iPhone fanatics (yes, we’re well-aware of you blue iMessage advocates out there), FaceTime is your best bet for connecting with your loved one.
Who doesn’t love a good karaoke session with their SO? Smule is an app available on iOS and Android that allows you to create online duets. From their vast song selection, you and your partner can sync up recordings of the both of you singing the same song to create the ultimate karaoke mashups! A definite must for music lovers out there.
For couples who like to game together, Steam is definitely the way to go! For those unfamiliar with this powerhouse of a gaming platform, Steam provides countless options for multiplayer games you can play with your SO or friends via online connectivity. Since gaming is something a couple can do at the same time no matter where they are, creating a Steam account for both you and your partner may be a great gateway for finding new ways the two of you can kill time together. Set up a Skype call with your SO, load up a game like Tabletop Simulator (currently priced at $19.99 on the platform), and boom! A game night-turned-online date, right at your disposal.
The explosion in popularity of Buzzfeed quizzes over the years is largely thanks in part to an online fan base of dedicated followers that have brought the discourse surrounding these quizzes to life. Sending your online quiz results to your SO is not only a fun way for them to get to know you better, but may inspire them to send you their quiz results from other quizzes as well—making for a fun little online quiz battle between you two. Happy quizzing!
No one knows the true struggles of long-distance dating more than those dating across an international gap. It can be hard to find the right platform to use to communicate internationally due to extra fees and charges for long-distance data usage—which is where WhatsApp comes in. One of the most popular messaging apps internationally, WhatsApp’s WiFi-dependent functionality makes it easy to communicate across borders without having to worry about extra fees showing up on your phone bill, so long as you’re connected to a WiFi signal. For its in-app phone call functions, the app additionally provides you with settings for using less data on your calls.
We’ll never quite know if Spotify created the “collaborative playlist” feature with long-distance daters in mind, but it’s certainly been a convenient tool that couples have capitalized on regardless. Do you and your SO have songs that are your songs? Or maybe just songs that remind you of each other? Creating a collaborative playlist on Spotify that’s just for you and your SO is a heartwarming way to build sentiment between you two no matter how far away you are from each other. After all, what’s more romantic in our generation than stalking your “Friend Activity” bar to see your SO listening to your “Thinking of You” playlist?
As technology has continued to develop through the years, it seems more and more like long-distance relationships are losing the bad reputation they were once scorned with; instead, they now seem viable thanks to some of the techie tools I’ve listed above. Of course, the inherently technical nature of all of these items makes them privileged resources in and of themselves, since not everyone has equal access to technology and/or Wi-Fi in this country. That being said, it’s still important to consider how the technology we use everyday can help us foster long-term, healthy relationships, as its ability to do this sometimes becomes forgotten amongst its variety of other impressive technical uses. The study of how technology has impacted the way we develop relationships is a primitive one but important for discovering just what makes us humans always want to connect regardless of the distance between us.