Two years ago at this time, I remember frantically typing every combination of words equivalent to “can long distance in college work” into a Google search bar and feeling my stomach sink as every article and forum turned me to the answer I didn’t want to hear: no.
Now, halfway through college, I’ve made it my own little mission to give a glimmer of hope to the next generation of students using the Google search engine to answer life’s biggest questions. I want them to find a yes rather than no, because all hope is not lost! Here are my tips for maintaining a healthy long distance relationship.
We live in a different world than our parents, grandparents, and even older siblings did during college. We’re already in near-constant contact with our friends or significant others via texting or messaging, and a long distance relationship simply calls for elevating your communication skills to the next level.
What works best for us might not work best for others, but we try to FaceTime at least once a day and I typically call John more than once a day whenever we both have a free minute. Work on having open lines of communication—discuss preferences (Does he/she prefer a heads up before you call?), and understand the importance of face-to-face contact. It’s as close as you can get to a physical relationship when you’re long distance.
Don’t Miss Out on Big Opportunities for Your Relationship
Halfway through my first year at school, I was presented with the opportunity to study abroad for a month in India at no cost. The offer was too good to be true, but I felt guilty that I would be missing out on the opportunity to spend a month at home with John before he started his summer internship. I made a pact with John when we went long distance that, when confronted with opportunities, we should only pass them up if we had a reason other than our relationship to do so. This helps avoid resentment and blame toward each other or your relationship if you end up regretting a missed opportunity. I ended up going to India, and while it was an adjustment for both of us, it didn’t negatively impact our relationship and I gained one of the most valuable experiences of my life so far.
Visit Frequently, but Not Too Frequently
When I tell people that John lives in Houston and I’m in Boston, they gasp at the quantity of miles between us. While the reaction of others was scary for me at first, we soon realized we got pretty lucky with our chosen cities. Plane tickets are surprisingly inexpensive, and we aren’t tempted to visit too frequently. With internship and side job money, we’ve gotten to the point where we are able to visit each other about once a month. Though I sometimes wish we visited more frequently, I would avoid going closer than two or three weeks between visits. It’s important to make your own friends and have your own social life, even if things don’t work out.
#protip: The general guideline for anyone visiting you in college is six weeks into the year to give you time to settle in and make friends. You’ll find that parent weekend at most universities falls at approximately that point in the year. The same rule should apply to your first visit with your significant other—it may be painful, but I recommend waiting until fall break for the first visit.
You Can Still Go on Dates
Inevitably, someone in college will make you feel guilty for staying in on a Friday night to Skype your significant other instead of going out to a party. Don’t let it get to you—they would likely not have anything negative to say if you were going out on a date with your in-town significant other, and it’s really the same thing. You can still have date nights or watch movies together, it just has to happen virtually. Additionally, try adding some new, fun activities into your relationship. Hand written letters and care packages have been some super fun ways that John and I have stayed connected over the past couple of years.
Above all else, remember that all of the rules about being in a relationship in general still exist when you’re long distance. Be kind to your partner, make them feel loved, and be communicative when a problem arises. If both of you continue to be invested in the relationship, I’m confident everything will work out in your favor.
Allison is a rising junior at Northeastern University in Boston majoring in Political Science and Business Administration. She is addicted to iced coffee, her FitBit, and running (slowly). Allison spends most of her time dreaming about places that don’t have a winter.