Mattress pad? Check. Shower shoes? Check. Textbooks? Check. You managed to bring everything to school to help you survive first semester… except for bae.
Whether it’s your high school sweetheart at a different school or your college love traveling abroad for the semester, making it work while you’re countless miles away is undoubtedly challenging. If you’re trying to power through your LDR, here are a few tips from your fellow long distance lovers about making it through the long haul.
How to Handle: On-Campus Couples
When the closest you can get to a hug from your significant other is hugging your computer during a Skype call, it’s easy to envy people who have found love in their zip code. Jesse Favitsou-Boulandi, a University of Maryland senior, says on-campus SO’s are extremely lucky to be able to spend everyday moments like studying in the library or hanging at home together. “It’s cool because you can just chill,” he said. “You get more of the friendship along with the relationship.” At the end of the day though, this could be a blessing in disguise. “I spend a lot more time with friends this way,” said Emily Abraham, a University of Maryland sophomore. “I’m not sure whether that would be different if he was here. I like having that independence.”
How to Handle: Temptation to Be Single
“You don’t want to be tied down in college,” is a common phrase you’ll hear from many grads looking back on their college days with nostalgia. It’s true that the undergrad years are a time that many spend playing the dating field, but if you’ve scored before the game even begins, don’t worry about not having the opportunity to keep playing. “A lot of girls always seem like they really want relationships, so whenever I think, ‘Oh, it looks like they’re having so much fun [being single],’ I just remember how much better it is now,” Abraham said. “It’s not worth breaking up just to be single again.”
How to Handle: Communication
Luckily for you and your long-distance lover, it’s physically possible to communicate with another person in real time on several different platforms. Despite the variety of ways you can chat, most couples have their favorite. Trine Lindberg, a University of Alabama junior, said FaceTime is her and her bf’s most beloved method of talking due to the cross-continent nature of their relationship. “FaceTime is so easy – not to mention free. We can’t really call each other because I live in Alabama and my boyfriend lives in Norway, so we always use FaceTime, either audio or video.”
How to Handle: Scheduled Time to Talk vs. Spontaneous Chats
Deciding to set up a specific time to talk can either relieve the stress of a long-distance relationship, or create more difficulty if you have to cancel. At the same time, keeping everything spontaneous could lead to a lack of communication if your schedules don’t leave time for overlapping availability. “I think you need both,” said Dara Kaplan, a Quinnipiac University sophomore. “Scheduling time makes it easier on the relationship because you know you have a set time each day to talk and stuff, but spontaneous is fun too, especially when you have a random or funny story to share.”
How to Handle: Too Much Visiting (or Not Enough)
The weekend could serve as your only time to travel to see your significant other, but it also provides crucial time for you to develop your own friendships and social life at your own school. “There’s too much visiting if you’re going every weekend, because then it’s like you’re not even living your life–you’re living your life for them,” Favitsou-Boulandi said. “You can’t be completely dependent on someone else to make you feel good.” Whether you spend your weekend catching up on homework, going out with friends or just having some you-time, it’s okay to do it all at your own school instead of at their’s.
How to Handle: Trust Issues
The most essential ingredient to a successful long-distance relationship is total trust. College is a big place full of lots of people. So yes, certainly your significant other is meeting lots of people in your absence, but you’re never going to meet new friends for yourself if you’re busy worrying about them every day. “You definitely need to make sure you 100% trust the other especially since you’re both going to go out on weekends and are around thousands of people you don’t know each day,” Kaplan said. “You need to have a lot of trust, but also give them space and not make them feel constricted when it comes to having other friends and going to parties.”
How to Handle: Your LDR Haters
Rrepare to enter a world of people doubting its ability to last. “When I moved from Norway, a lot of people asked me if we were breaking up,” Lindberg said. “We’ve been together for almost seven years–that’s not something you just throw away because you encounter an obstacle. If we can handle living on two different continents, I think we can handle pretty much anything.” It’s frustrating to have to explain your personal decisions to everyone you meet. Try to channel your haters’ disbelief into making your relationship even stronger.
How to Handle: Keeping it Special
From sending gifts on random occasions to special text messages wishing you luck on exams, spoiling your significant other while you’re far apart is definitely possible with a little creativity and love. Lindberg and her boyfriend have a variety of fun ways that they show they’re thinking of each other. “There’s this app called Couple, where you can ‘thumb kiss.’ If you’re both on the app you can click on it, and it shows your fingerprint on both screens. When your fingerprints touch, the phones vibrate. It’s kind of tacky, but it makes me smile anyway,” she said. “Also, sending each other gifts or letters makes you feel closer. For example on Valentine’s Day last year, my boyfriend sent me my favorite flowers. Even with seven time zones separating us, he still made me feel loved.”
So there you have it, lovebirds. It really can be done.