There are so many perks to a healthcare travel career that you’d need more fingers (and toes) to count them all. But dating long-distance isn’t always one of them. The good news is with 14 million long-distance couples in the U.S., it’s definitely possible to make a long-distance relationship work.
Are you a travel nurse or an allied health traveler in a long-distance relationship? Do you want to be? These dating tips are for you.
- Set ground rules and manage expectations
- Communicate as much (or as little) as you need to feel connected
- Speak in your partner’s love language
- Plan dates you can do while apart
- Visit in person as much as possible
- Remember why you’re in the relationship
How To Maintain a Long-Distance Relationship as a Healthcare Traveler
1. Set ground rules and manage expectations
When it comes to long-distance relationships, setting rules and managing expectations together may be the secret to success. Without clear guidelines, it can be easy for miscommunications and misunderstandings to arise, which can quickly cause tension and conflict.
“It’s extremely important to set realistic and healthy expectations,” said Jocelyn Charnas, PhD, a clinical psychologist. “There’s no right or wrong answer, but problems ensue when these things aren’t discussed.”
Some basic rules to think about include how often to communicate, what kind of communication is preferred, and how to handle disagreements. Additionally, establishing expectations about things like fidelity, future plans, and other deal-breakers ensure you’re on the same page and keep the relationship propelling forward in a positive direction. Every couple has its own boundaries — the important thing is feeling safe and comfortable in communicating to your significant other whatever you expect and need in your relationship.
2. Communicate as much (or as little) as you need to feel connected
Effective communication is the spine that supports a healthy relationship. When there’s distance between you and your partner, it’s important to communicate as much or as little as you need to feel a sense of closeness and intimacy.
The ability to openly communicate with your long-distance partner allows you to express your feelings, thoughts, and needs and fosters a sense of partnership and commitment. By listening actively and speaking honestly, you can strengthen your emotional bond and build a foundation of trust as a long-distance couple.
“Every relationship requires communication,” said Darcy Sterling, a licensed clinical social worker. “And the quality of that communication is a predictor of how fulfilling the relationship is for both people.”
While some people prefer daily phone calls, others may find sporadic check-ins throughout the week more compatible with their schedules. And when you’re travel nursing or working an allied health travel job, there may be periods of time when you can’t be on your phone. So, make sure you and your partner are in sync on how and when you connect.
Luckily, we live in the 21st century where we’re spoiled with a myriad of creative communication avenues to choose from like FaceTime, texting, social media, email, voice memos, and even good, old-fashioned snail mail. Your options are limitless!
3. Speak your partner’s love language
Ever heard of love languages? According to the mastermind behind the concept, Dr. Gary Chapman, a renowned relationship counselor, love languages are the different ways in which people give and receive love in a relationship.
“Approaching relationships from the love language perspective is really productive,” said Mark Williams, a licensed mental health counselor and relationship coach. “By learning how to ‘speak’ each other’s love language, you’re ensuring both people in a relationship feel supported and seen.”
The idea behind love languages is that by understanding your partner’s preferred love language, you can communicate more effectively and navigate your differences with the end goal being greater intimacy, connection, and happiness. Let’s learn about each love language.
Words of affirmation
The words of affirmation love language is all about using words to express love to your partner. Focused on verbal communication and expressing affection through words of praise, encouragement, and gratitude, individuals who value this love language crave reassurance from their significant other and feel most loved when they receive compliments, acknowledgments, and affirmations. Whether it’s a simple “I love you” text or a heartfelt expression of appreciation, words of affirmation can go a long way.
As the name suggests, the quality time love language involves giving someone your undivided attention and being present in the moment with them. It’s not just about being physically present, but also actively engaging in the conversation or activity you’re doing together.
Quality time is creating memories and experiences that deepen your emotional connection. Research has shown that spending quality time with loved ones can lead to increased happiness, reduced stress, and improved mental health. Whether it’s a virtual date night or a planned vacation together, if quality time is your partner’s love language, it’s essential to make it a regular part of your relationship.
If your partner appreciates handholding, hugs, kisses, and other physical signs of tenderness when you’re together, their love language may be physical touch. This love language can take many forms and can convey a range of emotions, from comfort and support to lust and desire.
“Physical touch releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that makes you feel like nothing can hurt you,” said Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and relationship coach.
Not only does physical touch release one of the happy hormones, but studies show that it can also increase feelings of trust and empathy while reducing stress and blood pressure levels. But when you’re in a long-distance relationship, it can be difficult to practice this love language since you’re miles apart from each other. In that case, get creative and try blowing kisses when you video chat, sending a gift that physically reminds them of you like a sweatshirt or sachet of your favorite perfume or cologne, or simply talking about physically touching each other. While this kind of “physical touch” may not be the same as when you’re together in person, using your body language can be just as powerful.
Acts of service
Do sparks fly when you unexpectedly do things for your significant other? If yes, they may best receive expressions of love through acts of service.
“Of the five love languages, ‘acts of service’ usually means ‘don’t tell me you love me, but rather, show me you love me,’” said Jenni Skyler, PhD, director of The Intimacy Institute.
This love language is for people who feel loved and seen when their partner goes out of their way to do nice things for them. These acts could be as simple as ordering their groceries or sending them a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. And if you’re not sure what kind of acts of service your partner values the most, don’t be afraid to ask! What may seem like small gestures can make a big impact on the success of your relationship.
From receiving a bouquet of flowers to a handmade card, it feels good to be thought of. But for people whose love language is receiving gifts, these tokens of appreciation mean so much more.
“To give a gift with meaning and thought behind it requires attention and empathy, which ultimately strengthens the relationship connection,” said therapist Nicole Saunders. “And then the gift becomes a symbol of the sentiment, increasing its value.”
Here’s the secret behind this love language: it’s not about the cost or size of the gift. It’s about the thought and effort you put into choosing and giving the gift. And when you’re in a long-distance relationship, sending or receiving thoughtful gifts that carry sentimental value can bridge the distance gap.
Need ideas on how to express your love through meaningful gestures? We’ve got you covered. Here are a few of our faves:
💝 A mix tape of their favorite love songs
💝 A gift card or gift certificate to a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop
💝 A book or movie that’s special to you
💝 A DIY creation, such as a photo puzzle, personalized mug, or handwritten love letter
💝 A bus or plane ticket to come to visit you!
4. Plan dates you can do while apart
You might not live in the same city as your significant other, but that doesn’t mean you should give up date nights together. Instead, plan dates you can still do as a couple even though you’re apart. That way, you can share experiences and create memories despite the physical distance.
“The most important message a date night or catch up — whatever form it takes — conveys to the couple is that they are creating a unique and special space for one another,” said Matt Garrett of Relationships Australia. “People might be really surprised at just how small a gesture can convey a huge amount of meaning.”
Carving out time specifically for dates with your partner enhances intimacy, trust, and emotional connection. And as an added bonus, date nights are a great opportunity to take a break from your daily routine, work, and other commitments to prioritize time together.
Of course, planning date nights from a distance can be tricky. The bright side is there are ample long-distance date ideas that you and your significant other can experiment with! Consider watching the same movie via FaceTime or sending care packages with supplies to cook a meal together in your respective homes. From online games to virtual museum tours to arts and crafts, there are many fun and special long-distance date ideas for you and your partner to choose from.
5. Visit in person as much as possible
Spending time together may be one of the ingredients to a happy, healthy relationship. So, follow the recipe and plan in-person visits with your partner whenever you can!
By enjoying each other’s company in person, long-distance couples can better appreciate each other’s personalities, values, and lifestyles and rekindle the flames that brought you together in the first place. Being in person also allows you to engage in physical touch, increasing feelings of closeness, security, and warmth.
But when you’re working a travel nursing assignment or allied health travel job, you can’t always take time off whenever you want to visit your significant other in person. However, you have options! You can take time off between assignments to catch up in person by meeting halfway, planning a vacation together, or agreeing on one of your homes.
Alternatively, one of the benefits of being a Fusion Medical Staffing traveler is you receive 40 hours of paid time off for every 1,560 hours worked, which comes in handy next time you’re in need of some one-on-one time with your special someone. Another option is to try to negotiate time off with the medical facility you’re working in before you officially sign your travel contract with them. That way, you’re guaranteed those days off and can plan a romantic getaway well in advance.
6. Remember why you’re in the relationship
Do you remember why you chose to enter the relationship? What is it about your significant other that gives you butterflies? What are the things that make your relationship worthwhile?
The hustle and bustle of life can make it easy to forget these key details. From your partner’s undeniable sense of humor to the adoring way they look at you, remembering and reminding each other of the reasons you entered the relationship helps keep the passion alive, magnifies the bond between you, and offers the chance to cherish your partner’s qualities on a deeper level.
Sure, dating long-distance isn’t the simplest way to fall in love, especially when you frequently move from one place to another as a travel nurse or allied health traveler. But nothing screams “I love you” like happily putting in the effort to make your relationship work. Whether you’re currently in a long-distance relationship or are open to the idea, you can use these dating tips to make the most of your love life, wherever you are.