It’s the summer before you and your boyfriend or girlfriend go off to college. You’ve been together for a while now and things are going really well. In fact, you’re not clingy or anything, but this person might really be the one. Only problem is, you’re both going to different schools. Suddenly you’re starting to have second thoughts, maybe this wasn’t meant to work out…
Don’t let distance break you up! An estimated 4.5 MILLION college students are in a long distance relationship (LDR) and, contrary to popular belief, people in LDRs don’t break up any more frequently than those in traditional relationships. You’re not alone in pursuing an LDR, and the statistics are on your side – moral and mathematical support, what more could you ask for?
You could ask for a lot more actually. Like a handsome man to provide you with tips and ideas to help keep your relationship fun, interesting and stable. (Spoiler alert: it’s me.)
My girlfriend, Sophia, and I go to different colleges in different states. After a year of doing it, we’re still just as happy as we were when we lived in the same state. This doesn’t mean being in an LDR is easy, though. Because it isn’t. You’re going to have to work hard. But here are some things we’ve figured out along the way that will hopefully make your LDR much easier:
Skype is practically essential for long distance couples. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but if you haven’t downloaded it yet, you should now. You’ll be using it A LOT. Trust me.
Plan time for each other
This has to be the most important thing to do in any kind of relationship, but especially for an LDR. Sure, it seems obvious, but you’ll be surprised as to how tough it is to do well consistently. Sophia and I make plans the night before to decide if and when we’ll have time to Skype, call, or even text each other. Some couples make weekly talk-schedules so they can ensure that they’ll get their time in with each other that they want and need. Doing this also helps create a routine that you can easily plan around in advance. Regardless of what you choose to do, it’s important to plan for time to talk – it lets both people know they’re priorities to each other.
Note: Once you decide a time, it’s imperative that you STICK WITH IT. Of course, there are thousands of exceptions and excuses, but try your best to not have conflicts often.
Be spontaneous too
Not all your talk-time has to be planned. If you have some extra time between classes or meetings or hanging out with friends, give your bae a call! When Sophia calls me randomly, it makes me melt. And even when I don’t answer, she’ll usually leave behind a cute message that makes me feel so important; gives me that warm, fuzzy, fluttery feeling in my heart! Little, unplanned things like calls or cute texts go a long way, and don’t require a lot of effort.
Respect each other’s time
College is a time of newness and it’d be unfair if you didn’t give the other person some space to explore their opportunities and grow. This idea of growth is something Sophia and I keep in mind. We try not to jam pack our schedules with Skyping each other and are always okay with letting the other person go if we call them in the middle of being with friends. It’s important to talk these kinds of things over with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Know how much time you want to spend talking on the phone or over Skype per day or week. Know what kinds of things can be interrupted. It’s all about figuring out what you’re happy and comfortable with because each person needs some space.
Don’t make each other feel like an obligation
There’s nothing that will ruin your LDR faster than if you make talking to your beau a chore. It shouldn’t be a hassle or something you have to do. They’re someone you’re sacrificing a lot of time for, you’re both embarking on similar journeys, and if you don’t enjoy talking with and making time for them, then what’s the point?
Tell each other when you’re down
Confide in your boyfriend or girlfriend when you’re feeling stressed or sad. Don’t let them think you’re being quiet or distant for no reason. They’re there to support and help you. Not only does talking about feeling down make your relationship stronger, it also gives you a huge topic to discuss – plus, it’ll make you feel better! Not saying anything will do the opposite.
Do things together while you’re apart
Being part of an LDR means you’re also part of a two-person creativity team. (Name your team whatever you’d like, “The Kangaroos” is my suggestion, though.) On that team, you should brainstorm ways to hang out while away from each other. It creates a sense of togetherness and can be a lot of fun too.
If you both use Netflix, download Showgoers. It’s an extension for Google Chrome that lets you sync movies and TV shows between computers. Sophia and I use it while on Skype to watch our awfully hilarious made-for-TV movies together. I highly recommend Triple Dog and Read It and Weep.
We also play a Kim Possible game online. It’s pretty tough and can be a goofy competition to see who will finish first. It’s not a perfect game. At all. But it makes for a seriously good time. Especially if you watched the show.
Another thing we do is search for ghost stories and read them to each other. We’ve even tried to find a couple books to read too. Sadly, we’ve never really stuck with them – maybe you’ll be better at that than us.
These are just three of at least 104 things to do while apart. Always keep your mind open to doing cheesy, lame stuff together. Innovate!
Jealousy is inevitable, but not a destroyer
Whether it’s a tiny splatter of it or a bigger stain, someone’s going to get jealous. You’re placing a lot of trust in each other and, unless you’re the most confident people in the world, you’re going to worry a bit here and there.
Jealousy is best handled head on, so keep a line of communication open. Talk about jealousy before it happens. You probably know how easily you get jealous and what kinds of things trigger it, so let your boyfriend or girlfriend know. It’s okay to get jealous as long as you talk about it in a respectful and rational way to each other.
Sophia and I try to give each other a sense of familiarity about the new people we’re meeting and hanging out with. It makes us feel more comfortable and less like there is a second life the other is living. When she visited me last year, I had her meet a lot of the people I talk about. Sometimes my friends will be over while we Skype and I’ll even introduce them that way. She does the same kinds of things for me. It’s really nice to put faces to names and know for a fact they’re all good people. Hopefully doing something like this will help you too.
Most importantly, don’t freak out about jealousy. Just relax and know that you can get through it. It’s probably all in your head anyway!
In short, a long distance relationship can work out and be very happy as long as you put in the work. The most important advice I can give you is to make that work as fun as possible. Good luck with your LDR. You’re going to be great!