7 Ways to Keep a Long Distance Relationship Spark, According to a Sexpert

More than 90 percent of people living in the UK and Europe have been in a long-distance relationship at some point in their lives, but how many of them actually work? That's the whole premise of US reality show "90 Day Fiancé", which launched in July in the UK. The programme across the pond typically follows couples who have applied for, or received, a K-1 visa (a visa for foreign fiancés of US citizens), and therefore, have 90 days to marry each other. The UK version is less tense and lacks the 90-day deadline due to a difference in visa requirements, but is equally as fascinating as couples come together to navigate their relationships after having been apart for so long.

For many, it might look as though they have succeeded at the hard part of making a relationship work from afar, but it's not so easy coming together after patterns of behaviour have been set. The same goes for the other way around, too. If you've fallen for someone further away, or are starting a long-distance relationship as one of you is moving, it's worth keeping in mind some tips on how to keep the spark burning.

According to love and relationship expert Alix Fox, who worked with the team on "90 Day Fiancé", a long-distance relationship requires work to last, be healthy, and keep the flame burning. "Provided you're a good match, realistic and on the same page about your hopes and plans, and willing to put in the effort to go the extra mile to overcome the physical miles between you, there's no reason to automatically assume that an LDR is hopelessly DOA," Fox tells POPSUGAR. "Long-distance relationships absolutely can go the distance! Admittedly, this won't be the case for every far-flung partnership, and it does take work — although I've spoken to umpteen couples who say that the communication, commitment, and the compassion skills they were forced to develop during their time apart still act to strengthen and enhance their bond once they're living together."

So how do you keep a long-distance relationship healthy? From communication skills to couple's sex toys, here are seven tips to help you keep the flame burning.

90 Day Fiancé UK is available to stream from 24 July exclusively on discovery+.

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Introduce Your Mates
Getty | Luis Alvarez

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Introduce Your Mates

If your partner was with you in person, it's likely they'd meet your friends and family at some stage. Just because you're living far apart doesn't mean that your partner can't meet your loved ones at all. "Introduce them over Zoom, or invite everyone to take part in a fun group online activity such as a game, quiz, virtual escape room, or internet poker night," Fox says. "I love Jackbox's ridiculously silly digital group games, although they're best suited to strong English speakers." Doing so will play a huge role in making your relationship feel more real. "One of the reasons LDRs can feel less legitimate than standard relationships is because it's too easy for them to exist in a bubble, where nobody really gets to speak to and know your partner apart from you, and your romance feels strangely separated from the rest of your life," Fox continues. "Making your faraway lover part of your friendship group helps your relationship feel more secure and wholly integrated into your world."

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Pipe Up, Don’t Bottle Up
Getty | Catherine Falls Commercial

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Pipe Up, Don’t Bottle Up

Your other half won't be able to read your body language or guess how you're feeling from the look on your face, especially if you mostly communicate by text message. Because of this, it is extra important to communicate your feelings properly rather than letting things go.

"It's vital to maintain healthy personal boundaries and essential to your self-respect and happiness that you feel able to speak up, be heard, and collaborate on solutions when a problem inevitably pops up in your relationship or something upsets you," Fox says.

"It can feel tricky to raise an issue by telephone, as tone and nuance can easily be misinterpreted in text, and it may feel nerve-wracking to debate a sticky subject on video when you can't hold someone's hand or give them a hug. It may even seem disrespectful not to address an important dispute in person," she explains. "On the flip side, when in-the-flesh visits are rare, precious, short, and expensive, there's a strong temptation not to risk ruining them with an argument. As such, grievances can get bottled up until they eventually explode and do far more damage."

A simple tip is to use a couples therapy app to help guide difficult conversations in calm and positive ways. "This will help to teach better communication skills and can be used in your own time wherever you're both based. I rate the apps Paired and Blueheart."

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Enjoy Your Space
Getty | Morsa Images

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Enjoy Your Space

You can't do anything about how far away your partner is, so lean into the situation and take away some positives. "It's gutting that your amour is oceans away, but it's also an opportunity for you to use your time alone to do things you find rewarding (including stuff that might not be your lover's cup of tea)," advises Fox. "Diving into a hobby or project will help distract you from pining for your partner and give you more to talk about. Plus, if your relationship is as strong and supportive as you'd hope, they'll cheer on your growth, enjoyment, and accomplishments. Whether it's a craft, community group, education, or athletics, savour the time you have to truly commit yourself which is afforded by a long-distance commitment."

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Cybersex
Getty | Westend61

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Cybersex

Sex is a crucial part of a romantic relationship, and contrary to popular belief, you can still have a hot and heavy sex life while oceans apart. A whopping 78 percent of respondents to Discovery+'s research said they'd refuse to take part in phone or video sex. While it's really important to only get involved in sexual experiences that you can enthusiastically consent to, without any pressure or coercion, Fox reckons some are secretly tempted by the idea of being sensual via mobile or laptop. "I can't help but wonder if people get put off by the fear that they'd look or sound silly on screen, or wouldn't know where to start," Fox says. If you're intrigued by it, why not give it a go? Perhaps start by sexting and building up from there.

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Sex Toys
Getty | Westend61

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Sex Toys

Sex toys aren't limited to solo-play anymore, thanks to modern technology. There are so many internet-enabled adult toys on the market, and some of them can be remotely controlled even from different continents. "Why not get your hands on some paired playthings? With some toys, the motions one person makes with their vibrator or stimulator are mimicked by their partner's bit of kit, so it feels like you're moving together," says Fox. "Some of these toys are pricey, but this type of technology is becoming a lot more affordable." Fox recommends toys from brands like WeVibe, KIIROO, The Handy (superb for penises), Lovense, and Vibease (whose toys also sync with explicit audiobooks, so you can feel along with a story you're listening to!). "A fun, low-stakes, it's-cool-to-laugh way of talking about your desires and broaching the concept of toys can be to chat about what you'd invent if you were to design your own fantasy sex toy together," Fox says.

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Bedtime Stories
Getty | FluxFactory

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Bedtime Stories

If you get turned on by words and your imagination and you love a good erotic novel, this one is for you. "Create your own raunchy ritual by taking turns to read a few pages of an erotic novel to each other," says Fox. "If you're in different time zones, record your passage and send it as a voice note, so your lover can listen to their own lusty 'bedtime story' whenever they slip between the sheets. This is a great way of exploring dirty talk together without having to spontaneously come up with your own sentences and scenarios, which many people find overly intimidating. Companies like UStarNovels.com and BookByYou.com can even produce personalised erotic ebooks starring the two of your as characters."

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Sexy Selfies
Getty | grinvalds

Long-Distance Relationship Advice: Sexy Selfies

Want to send a racy photograph but not sure where to start? Fox recommends trying apps like Amorous. Amorous allows you to turn saucy selfies into fun digital jigsaws. She explained: "This way your lover has to put in a little extra work to see the image, and includes games and prompts designed to spark flirty chats, too. It's all private and encrypted to help keep your digital sexing safer."

If you're a little body-conscious or not sure how to pose, Fox recommends coloured bulbs and flickering candles. Both are apparently flattering on skin. She adds: "Taking a pic in the bathtub means you can tactically use bubbles to hide anything you don't want to show, while your wet body glistens and gleams and the steam gives a sultry soft focus effect."

And remember, you must always feel comfortable when doing so. Never feel obliged or coerced into sending anything you're not comfortable with.