Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or that’s what everyone claims. But do couples in long-distance relationships actually want to put in the work? From my personal experience, yes—it’s worth every second. As someone who has been in a long-distance relationship that has spanned over eight time zones and one huge ocean, I am confident to say, long-distance relationships take a lot of work. Although the distance may seem daunting, if you’re in it with the right person, it’s possible.

For Nicole Shahinian-Simpson and Angel Károlyi, being in a long-distance relationship was never in the original blueprint. After receiving a riding and training job offer she couldn’t pass up on the West Coast, Nicole headed 3,000 miles away from where Angel is based in Wellington, Florida. With the help of Nicole’s expertise, NF Style complied the top 4 tips on how to survive the Winter Circuit without dumping – or getting dumped by – your significant other.

Tip 1: It takes work.

No matter the distance, both parties in the relationship must put in the same amount of effort, which is arguably the hardest part. All the things you work on during a normal relationship will need two-times the work for when you go long-distance. Long-distance relationships aren’t for everyone. Like any relationship, it requires time and effort, plus a little more to make up for the miles apart.

“It takes work whether you’re together or apart,” explains Nicole. “I don’t know what’s easier or harder, but no matter what, you have to be in it together.”

Tip 2: Establish ground rules.

“First and foremost, you must have trust and respect,” says Nicole. “It’s always easy to let your mind wander and think, ‘Oh, I wonder what’s happening.’ That’s one thing [Angel and I] have, and appreciate it every day because it’s difficult in this industry. I feel very lucky to have trust.”

It’s easy to let your thoughts linger to the unknown, and that’s okay. But in order for a long-distance relationship to be successful in the future, trusting your partner is key. By establishing ground rules and trust, it helps to keep your mind at ease so you can worry less.

Missing my love! ❤️❤️❤️ @nickisimpson74

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Tip 3: Communication is everything.

Nicole’s best advice for long-distance relationships? Communication.

“Staying present and keep the communication open,” she says. “Angel is just as interested in what’s going on with me, and I’m the same with him. I want to know what’s happening with him and how it’s all going. Even though we’re apart, it’s nice to converse about our days. We support each other.”

Distance between a couple is no problem if there’s an open line of communication. Thanks to modern technologies such as FaceTime, it’s almost as if you’re still in a normal, close-proximity relationship.

Tip 4: Think of the big picture.

The end of the winter circuit is in sight! And that means being with your significant other is near.   Need a way to celebrate? Try planning a fun trip at the end of the season—it will give you something to look forward to and is a fun way to get a little R&R that you deserve. No matter how long you and your significant other are apart, Nicole reassures us that the distance isn’t as bad as you’d think.

“Good, bad or indifferent, you get busy with your day and the weeks fly by,” she says. “In a way, it kind of keeps the relationship fresh and fun. It’s worth it.”