Different cities, different countries, or even different sides of the globe. I’ve done all of those and let’s be clear there's no sugarcoating it: Long-distance relationships are tough. A phone call or Skype screen is never as good as the real deal. Whether you’re in the middle of it right now, or you will face it for a semester abroad next year, there’s no denying that long-distance relationships are challenging.

However, it can make the bond between you and your second half even stronger! I can tell you this from experience: living apart from each other can make you emotionally stronger, will bring out the strength in your relationship and could actually help in securing your relationship!

1. You learn how to be individuals

Of course you want to spend time with your partner, but even the healthiest relationship needs some breathing room. See the time apart as opportunity to secure your own identity rather than having your happiness dependent on your partner. Use the time you’re not together to find freedom in being independent and find a new hobby: learn to play basketball, take painting lessons, or sign up for a photography class!

2. You truly learn how to talk to one another

When you’re physically together, it’s much easier to just cuddle up in front of the TV instead of taking the effort and have that conversation you might otherwise put off. Since your relationship primarily consists of video and phone calls, you have plenty of practice expressing yourself and talking about things you’re excited about, but also about your fears and anxieties. Another plus: you also become good listeners!

3. You're always looking forward to something

While a regular relationship can become repetitive and monotonous, days of long-distance couples are often exciting and unpredictable. It’s hard to be apart, but this also means that you’re always looking forward to the next reunion and surprising each other with a handwritten letter, a card or a new idea for the future!

4. You know what’s really worth fighting about

If you have the possibility to be with each other every day, it gets super easy to get into little fights about trivial things. But being with someone who lives in a different city, country, or time zones, requires you to really think about what needs to be squabbled about. You learn to let go and forgive!

5. You appreciate the little moments

When you cannot be with your partner 24/7, you learn to appreciate the little things in a relationship just as much as the big ones. Nothing is healthier and better for a relationship than that. You start to take nothing for granted and be grateful for all the little moments you two have together.

6. You have the opportunity to travel

Obviously, the frequency of travel is always dependent on distance, work, and finances. However, by definition, long-distance relationships signify that you have to travel to see each other. Take this as chance to get excited about the places you meet, whether it is the place one of you is living in or whether it is a totally new place for both of you!

7. You truly appreciate each other

When you and your partner live apart, every memory you have of each other becomes so much more important. Everything that connects you becomes something special you hold on to and makes you learn to appreciate them even more.

8. You have a stronger sense of trust

No matter if long-distance or not, trust is an essential factor in any relationship. Still, when you are in a situation where you see your second half maybe once a month or less, a solid foundation of trust is indispensable. If this relationship is meant to be, you quickly learn how to have faith in each other and how to count on each other.

9. You are honest about your relationship

A regular relationship requires a lot of work. A long-distance relationship involves even more coordination, sacrifices and good will – saving money for flights, knowing each other’s schedules, asking for days off, coordinating the time for calls (which gets especially tricky when you are in different time zones, like me right now). So you can’t help but end up reflecting on your relationship and asking yourself if you see a future with this person. And if you are willing to fly hundreds of miles to be with each other for forty-eight hours, then you know how strong your relationship is.

10. You value priceless time

Those of you who have been in a long-distance relationship know: Those last twenty minutes before one of you has to get on the train or catch a flight are usually some of the most intense and special moments you’ll ever experience as a couple. As memorable as they are, they will make you value your partner’s return even more. Nothing makes you as happy and joyful as seeing him or her again. And when you do see them, it’s like the most precious moment you can imagine.

11. Your hearts grow fonder

While it’s true that being apart is rough, new research argues that absence might truly make the heart grow fonder. A study published in the “Journal of Communication” found that couples in long distance relationships were more likely to share deeper issues – such as love, trust and future plans – and have more meaningful interactions than those who see each other daily. The study by L. Crystal Jiang and Jeffrey T. Hancock discovered that due to fewer daily face-to-face interactions when living apart, those interactions were longer, more expressive and more meaningful.

So here is to long-distance relationships, as they teach us, make us aware and give us the possibility to be truly grateful for what we have. Yes, being apart from each other is tough, but let us transform this sadness into power and use it to strengthen the relationship we have!