How to Make Your Long-Distance Relationship Work
When I was in high school, I was in love with a great guy named Mike. He was handsome, talented and very sweet; everything I could want in a boyfriend. Unfortunately, he was also a senior. During the first few months of our relationship, I never even thought about what would happen after graduation, but as that day loomed closer, my anxiety levels started to shoot through the roof. I worried about being left behind or being dumped for some college girl who was prettier than I was. I even heard rumors about how the seniors would get in one last fling before dumping their girlfriends over the summer break. I spent so much time worrying about how we would keep our relationship intact that I ended up pushing him away before he even left. College is stressful enough without the added strain of trying to keep the romance alive with someone who is hundreds of miles away, but I know Mike would have been worth the effort. It is estimated that there are over four million college couples involved in long-distance relationships, so apparently a lot of other people think it’s worth the effort, too. If you are heading off to college this fall (or recently connected with someone over Spring Break), there are some things you can do to increase your chances of staying together. I’m not going to lie and say it will be easy, but at least you’ll have a fighting chance if you follow these simple tips.
1. Set Some Ground Rules – It’s important that you understand the nature of your relationship. If you think you’re in a monogamous relationship, but your boyfriend classifies it as ‘open,’ you could be in for a bumpy road; knowing whether you will see other people or not is a difficult conversation to start, but one that needs to take place. Keeping your options open and dating other people doesn’t necessarily mean your boyfriend (or you) will want to end the relationship, but you do need to know what to expect.
2. Schedule Time Together – A great way to keep the romance alive is to schedule time together, even if it’s just a simple video chat or an online gaming session. Knowing that you will see each other builds the anticipation and gives you something to look forward to after a long day of classes. Be sure to pencil in time to be together in person, too. A quick weekend getaway or even an overnight visit will help keep the spark alive.
3. Send Reminders – I’m not talking about an Outlook reminder for a scheduled Skype session, but a physical reminder of your feelings for one another. Consider sending him a care package filled with his favorite treats or a photo of a secret place you both enjoy; both are sure to put a smile on his face and have him picking up the phone to talk to you. Just be sure you don’t go overboard. A few unexpected reminders of you here and there are great, but sending one every other day may send the wrong message.
4. Be Flexible – College life is hectic. You (or he) may find that homework, group projects, studying for exams and other commitments will occasionally conflict with your scheduled time together; try not to take it personally. Flexibility is the key to making a long-distance relationship work, especially if you both have full-time college schedules. Be understanding and reschedule for a mutually convenient time, when needed.
5. Trust Each Other – Above all else, trust is a huge part of making your relationship work. If you call or text him every day, grill him about what he’s been up to, or get angry any time he needs to postpone a scheduled date, your relationship will not make it. You have to trust that he is following the ground rules and is invested in this relationship as much as you are, otherwise you will spend your time together arguing. A lack of trust can also increase your anxiety and stress levels, which is bound to affect your grades and other relationships, too.
Although a long-distance relationship can be difficult, there are some perks, as well; you’ll have more independence, new things to talk about whenever you’re together, and you’ll be building a relationship that is based on more than just a physical attraction. Just keep the lines of communication open and make your time together count. If your relationship is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it work.