Long distance relationships have been on the rise in recent years, especially for college students. But how do we make it work?
As Valentine’s Day draws nearer, many excitedly plan nice dinners and sweet surprises for their significant others. But for those of us who’s other half resides a stomach-churning distance away, those plans will have to wait.
While the idea of a long-distance relationship seems daunting to some and downright impossible to others, I’m here to tell you that it is quite possible -- and very worth it.
My boyfriend and I started dating towards the middle of our senior year of high school with just enough time left in our hometown to become attached at the hip -- but with our future at college looming close enough that it couldn’t be ignored. There seemed to be this metaphorical “wall” that existed around August of the following year. It was a cutoff-point from which every moment forward a relationship between us would be long distance. And for two people who had previously vehemently sworn that they would “never ever be in a long distance relationship” because “that’s crazy and impossible,” we were quite surprised to find ourselves together on the other side of that wall, with no doubt in our minds that we were doing the right thing.
Now that my freshman year of college draws to a close, I have almost seven months (!!) of long-distance experience in my arsenal, so I would consider myself a budding expert on the topic (if I do say so myself). And just in time for Valentine’s day, I’ve winnowed down my thoughts and experiences to a little list of what to expect (and how to deal with it).
ONE: Have a Vision for the Future
I’m guessing that this one goes without saying, because why would anyone willingly put themselves through separation without a light at the end of the tunnel? Before your stint apart begins, be sure to clarify with your partner your visions for the future. If the bond between you is pure and enduring, then dealing with some months or years apart might just be worth it until an agreed upon reunion date arrives. Focusing on the idea that the distance between you is temporary is key to maintaining sanity for you both.
TWO: Communicate Regularly & Clearly
Being in different places, it’s inevitable that your schedule won’t line up with your partner’s. And this can place a damper on having your favorite person always there to talk to when you need it most. The best way to beat these blues is to share with each other your everyday schedules and then any outstanding events that you have planned for the week. This makes it easier to carve out times for a facetime or phone call in which you are focused on the conversation instead of trying to rush out the door. It’s also important to stop caring about unimportant things like “getting left on read” or not getting a response for a few hours. Life happens and nobody is always there to answer the phone 24/7, even if they wish they could be!
THREE: Live in the Present
Okay, I know that I JUST said to focus on the future, but there has to be a balance of both. Set a goal for your reunion sometime in the future and leave it be: don’t waste away your time now wishing for time to speed up. Go out with your friends, meet new people, join clubs, get a job, go swim at the nearest beach or hiking in the nearest woods… the list goes on. Both of you need to keep living your lives! Especially if both parties are in college -- these are very formative years for us and we’re all still growing and changing as young people. Hiding away in your room and moping about your situation is acceptable (even unavoidable) sometimes, but definitely not often.
FOUR: Visit Each Other
This one is a bit tough, especially if the distance is beyond what’s achievable in a car. But let’s face it: being away from your other half for months at a time is just painful to think about. Sometimes you just really need to see their face in person, not warped by pixels on a screen. Depending on what mode of transport you’re going to rely on, you might need to make some sacrifices, like asking for an extra day off of work or picking up a few extra shifts so that you can afford plane tickets (those are expensive, ouch). Make travel plans far in advance and put away money for travel. It’s difficult to know what weekends or breaks from school will line up ahead of time, but if you plan trips far in advance, you should be able to divert other events that might pop up. It’s not easy, but if you truly care about someone, spending money and time travelling is SO worth it when you’re greeted by a bear hug at the airport.
FIVE: See the Bright Side
What?! There’s something good about a long distance relationship? Believe it or not, yes! If you’re able to look past the unavoidable lonely moments and heartache from missing your best friend, there are a couple of positives that you should definitely focus on. The first of which applies to high school sweethearts attending different colleges: being long-distance gives you both the chance to have your own college experiences as individuals, which is SO important towards developing and strengthening your own personality. Another factor is the knowledge that if you’re in a long-distance relationship with someone, your connection surpasses the physical: if you can be in love with someone even though all you have is their voice over the phone, you really do love them. And finally, the glowing truth about this situation is that if you and your love can get through your time apart, your relationship can truly survive anything else that the world may throw at it.