Rewind to your senior year of high school. You’re finally dating the guy you’ve been crazy about since freshman year. You have that picture-perfect movie summer, but summer quickly ends and reality sets in. Come fall, the two of you will attend different colleges. Now you have to decide if you want to try this long-distance thing everyone talks about. You’ve heard horror stories about how long-distance never works out.
I’m here to tell you long-distance relationships do work. I’ve been in one for two years.
1. How do you not lose feelings?
I’m usually the one who loses feelings in a relationship first, but with the right person, your feelings stay strong. Having doubts is normal. I stopped overthinking once I realized I was just used to relationships ending after not long at all. Give your relationship time and see where your feelings go. Had I reacted on impulse and didn’t at least try a long-distance relationship, then I wouldn’t be nearing two years with a person who has made my life so much brighter.
2. How do you trust someone when they’re so far?
Trust is as precious and difficult to maintain as your GPA. Whether you’ve been burned in the past and lost all trust in human specimens, trust doesn’t come naturally to everyone. “The trust part is the hardest, especially when the other person has a history, but I believe that in a relationship you have to have trust,” University of Florida junior Isamary Perez said. “Without it, why are you together?” You can trust someone more easily when you know about their past and about what they’ve gone through. So ask questions. Take a leap of faith to find out more.
3. How do you talk about your thoughts and feelings for each other?
Express your feelings in ways you know your SO enjoys. Long-distance relationships come with a lot of texting, talking on the phone, FaceTiming and writing letters–if you’re into that kind of stuff. If they like sappy love letters, write them one every once in a while–even if you hate them. If you guys can go on and on about your feelings through text, do it. Be warned though, texting may result in more arguments because texts are easily misinterpreted. To avoid silly arguments, ask your SO what their message meant before jumping to what you think you know.
4. How do you make time for each other?
Ironically, you might find it easier to make time for each other when you’re not in the same city. When you and your SO live in different cities, you have time for yourselves. You can use this time to get everything out of the way before having fun with babe. When you’re in town for a holiday (and all your friends are in town too) on the other hand, it’s hard divide your time between friends and bae. “Sometimes you have to put the person you are dating before most people,” Miami-Dade College sophomore Luis Medina said. “Especially in a long-distance relationship because you don’t know if it will be another month until you see them again.” Even if you have some long-distance friendships, don’t forget t0 make your SO your priority.
5. How do you plan visits?
At the beginning of every semester, you get these mysterious things called syllabi. These stapled papers hold the answers to when you actually have free weekends or when you’ll have weekends filled with reading about cells. Thus, class syllabi equal your golden ticket to knowing when you can visit each other. “You start to love the trips because you know that when [you’re] there [you’re] making a huge effort,” Medina said. At the beginning of the semester, look at both your syllabi together. See which weekends neither of you have a lot to do and plan your visits accordingly. Be sure not to over schedule!
6. How do you keep them with you when they’re not?
Next time you’re home or with bae, steal one of their shirts or sweaters or pants and take it back home with you. This way when you miss them you have something of theirs to to keep close to you. Another way to keep them with you is with matching bracelets. My boyfriend and I have these “long distance” bracelets that are black and white. His is all black with one white stone in the middle. Mine is all white with one black stone in the middle. It’s like a “you complete me” kind of thing.
7. How do you distract yourself from missing them?
When the pain of missing your SO is unbearable, distract yourself by doing things that make you happy. Distract yourself before your heart hurts like it did when O’Malley wrote 007 in Grey’s hand. School and/or work can give you that little distraction, but when you need a stronger distraction, have that girls’ or guys’ night that you haven’t had in months. “Friends really, really help,” UF sophomore Cristina Delgado said. “[Friends] don’t fill the hole, but it’s a great distraction.” Or maybe, let a story take you to another time and place while you immerse yourself in a new book.
8. How do you have money to visit?
Save. Save. Save. The money you would spend on gifts soon becomes the money you spend on traveling to see each other. Set aside $15-20 a week to put in your travel, not party, funds. If your SO is back home, use a trip back home as a way to “see your parents.” I’m sure your parents would chip in to a trip home to visit them, even though you’re lowkey going to see bae.
9. How do you split your time with you friends and bae when you’re home?
I have a difficult time making an effort to spend time with my home friends. I always want to soak up as much time with my boyfriend as I can. Still, I remind myself that I have spend time with them during my time home also. “When we’re both home, my SO is also friends with my friends, so we all hang together, and we each understand each other’s girl/guy time,” Perez said. Make plans in a group where bae and your friends can tag along. Remember though, the same way you want to spend time with just bae, your friends want to spend time with just you.
10. How do you remain physically attracted to each other?
An important lesson to learn is that you may not feel physically attracted at all times, and that’s okay. The real test comes when you finally see them again after time away. If you don’t feel attracted to them when you’re with them, that may be a problem. “I think with the chemistry that we have and the fact that we’re naturally just attracted to the other, the attraction kind of just stays alive,” Delgado said. Also, FaceTiming or just any kind of video-chatting in general can help keep that physical attraction alive when you’re hundreds of miles away from each other. Shoutout to technology for keeping couples close together with miles between them. And selfies keep that physical attraction alive more than you might think.
Top 3 Things to Remember About Long Distance
No relationship can flourish without trust. If you find yourself not being able to trust your SO, think about what’s causing this mistrust. Once you figure that out, talk to bae about about why you can’t find it in you to trust them. Whether it be because somewhere along the line you lost your ability to trust someone or you just don’t have much experience trusting people, tell them and talk through your problems.
2. Communication is vital
When you’re feeling a certain way it’s important to remember to talk to your SO about it because they may not know how you’re feeling. Talking to them about any issues calmly and non-critically is most important. “Communicating with your SO and telling them what you like or dislike is super important,” Medina said. “This can help avoid many arguments. It’s always best to be honest and tell the person, ‘I’m not sure if I liked you doing this’ or ‘I love when you do this.’” Communication can make or break a relationship.
3. Long distance may not be for you, and that’s okay
I encourage you to try a long-distance relationship if you’re with someone who really makes you happy. Try it. It can’t hurt. The only negative thing that can come from a long-distance relationship is that it doesn’t work out. If the relationship doesn’t work out, it’s gonna hurt. Sometimes there’s only so much you can do if it’s–excuse my cliché—not meant to be. Keep in mind, though, there’s nothing wrong with you if your long-distance relationship doesn’t work out. Not all work out, but it’s better to have tried than to wonder if it could’ve worked.
Top 3 Twitter Accounts
Before being long distance, a relationship is a relationship. This account covers all things relationships, not specifically long-distance relationships. This account reminds you that you’re not the only one having certain feelings. Be inspired by thought-provoking quotes from real-life people in LDRs.
The handle says it all. This account shares articles people write about long-distance relationships and personal long distance stories. For example, one couple whose time zones are the opposite would FaceTime twice a day while eating opposite meals.
This is the account for firsthand long-distance advice. The people running the account were in a long-distance relationship and ended up getting married. Can you say #goals?
More articles on long-distance relationships
But are long distance relationships worth it? Read on for Five Pros and Cons.
Written by Tanjeen Twinkle.
When you met the perfect person during your senior year of high school or over the summer, you believed your love would go the distance. It never seemed to matter that you two will end up going to different colleges. But now that the new semester’s started, classes and clubs start to stack up, and suddenly those daily hour-long conversations have dwindled down to a couple rushed texts. Now, you’re faced with the question: Will your long-distance relationship last in college?
Figure out if your LDR is worth dealing with the distance.
1. Personal Space
No one wants to feel smothered, and being in a long-distance relationship makes it easy to find time for yourself. With LDRs, you have a lot more freedom to try new activities on your own, and you might feel less claustrophobic in your relationship. It will give you the alone time you need in a relationship without having to schedule it. “I did find myself having more free time to myself than always having to spend it if he were here. I was fine with that because I liked having a little free time to myself, to be honest,” said Temple University freshman Reshma Suresh.
2.Appreciation for the relationship
“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” sounds cliché, but you’ll find a lot of truth to it. The loneliness is hard. But when both of you try to keep their relationship stable, it can get easier to overcome the struggles all couples face. “Being in different schools really lets me appreciate my boyfriend. So, I go all out when we are planning to see each other because it’s special each time. When we are not together, we talk every day, just keep each other posted on our day, check up on each other,” said Temple University sophomore Ekemini Stephen.
3. Happiness from seeing your S.O again
After being far away from each other for four or nine months, when you finally see your SO, it brings you joy to go on an actual date without one of you being in a phone screen. “When my boyfriend Shawn would come and visit me from New York to Upper Darby, I would be so happy to see him because we can actually go [on] romantic dates and hold hands all the time because it’s really hard to hold hands with a computer screen,” said Temple sophomore Sally Sagnia. Now, you can finally walk on the beach together, spend the day at a concert or an amusement park and have a meal together without carrying your laptop to the restaurant.
4. Finding creative ways to be romantic
When you live 500 miles away from each other, it gets kind of hard to surprise your SO with flowers, chocolates or food. But you can still be cute and romantic with each other. You’ll just have to tweak your game a bit. You can write romantic letters to each other, send cute personalized videos or even write heartwarming messages all over social media to share your love with everyone. A long distance relationship makes putting in the extra effort to keep your relationship fresh and fulfilling all the more necessary— a good habit for any relationship, period.
5. Stronger communication skills
Finding the time to have a conversation with each other can be difficult, especially when jobs get involved. But if you manage your time wisely, you can communicate with each other one a day or every weekend. You’ll learn how to set reminders and make a schedule so you can maximize the time you have to communicate and learn more about each other. Without communication, your emotions will stay all bottled up, and being afraid to talk about your feelings isn’t really a good look for any relationship.
1. Re-separation Sucks
When you come home from seeing your SO, your daily life can seem like it has a little too much space. Without physical connection, even the best of relationships can feel pretty lonely at times— after all, talking online doesn’t always work out the same as being there in person. “I would visit my ex-boyfriend over the summer in Georgia, but when I would come to Philly again. I would be sad because I hated not seeing him all the time and I always wondered when I will see him again because I missed him a lot,” said Temple sophomore Jenna Song.
2. LDRs Create Gaps
During the first weeks of school, talking with your BF or GF all the time and getting everything done at the same time feels easy. But once a few weeks or months goes by, you start to feel like you don’t have time to sleep, eat, shower or even communicate with the other people around you. The gap in your relationship can become almost impossible to fix without a severe intervention. And it’s not like you can just drive over to her house. “Some may feel too much distance and not enough physical intimacy leads to loneliness and dissatisfaction. I think if one or both partners resent the restrictions of a long-distance relationship that will lead to more dissatisfaction and the possibility that it will not work out,” said Temple University Counselor Dr. John DiMino.
3. Jealousy Issues
Trust matters a lot in any relationship, but especially so when you’ve started a long-distance one. Being apart for too long can cause a lot of couple fights due to miscommunication or jealousy issues, especially if they don’t trust each other. Sometimes people feel insecure and afraid that since they live too far away, their partner will find someone that is physically there for them. If your SO gets jealous every time you hang out with your friends, then you may need to give up the ghost because if they can’t trust even that, the relationship has probably run its course.
4. Network Connection Problems
You have plans to sit down and chat with your boyfriend or girlfriend, but when you settle in for the video call, your signal keeps going in and out. Or you could be in the middle of a long phone call when all of the sudden the connection stops, interrupting your conversation and leaving you wondering how long the internet will be down. Communication matters a lot to relationships, and being physically unable to do so can really mess with how confident you feel in your relationship. Technology can definitely suck— and when your relationship depends on it, it can be the kiss of death.
5. Spending a lot of money on traveling
You may find yourself spending a lot of money on flights or gas to visit each other. The cost can rack up, especially for college students who struggle to pay to pay for tuition. “Planning to see each other is not always as rosy because of the financial aspect. We calculate bus trips, Ubers, food and stuff like that. It can’t all be on one person so for example, if he pays for the ticket to come see me, I pay for the ticket going back ticket; he does the same for me,” said Stephen. Plus, the time it takes for them to finally save up and visiting can cause some serious fissures in the couple’s relationship.
College Students Talk About how to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work
Written by Cheyenne Curling
“My boyfriend and I make it work through communication, openness and honesty. We are always willing to talk through our problems and we communicate every day, even if we’re just talking about how our days went.” – Parker, Northern Virginia Community College
“He visits fairly often. We rarely go two weeks without one of us visiting and when we do visit, it’s really interesting seeing each in our natural habitats. We try our best to FaceTime every night and if we’re busy we let each other know. Otherwise it just gets weird and passive aggressive when you disappear for huge chunks of time and don’t respond to one another.” – Aida, the College of William & Mary
“We make it work by communicating it really helps with the stress of being apart. We have been long distance for almost four years.” – Emma, Northern Virginia Community College
“Two sentences: Communication. Communication.” – Isaac, the College of William & Mary
“It’s hard for the person not being there. Not having sex sucks but it’s fine as long as I can talk to the person every day.” – Michael, George Mason University
“Even though a majority of people don’t believe in long distance relationships, with enough effort from both sides, it can work. It’s possible. Communicate. It’s all about communication.” – Kendrick, Northern Virginia Community College
“Remembering to reflect every so often on how you both feel is important and taking time to talk to them every day or every other day.” – Kristen, George Mason University
“My boyfriend and I went into the relationship very realistic about the hardships of long distance. We both value quality time together so we do our best to plan visits every two weeks. In the in-between days, we FaceTime late at night, if we aren’t super tired, to catch up on our lives or watch a movie. We usually end up falling asleep with the line still going. We also like to surprise each other. Andrew has tried to send me cookies and he leaves cute reminders on my phone when I’m not looking. It’s those small things that make me feel like even though he is far away, he still cares and values our relationship. I guess you could say that we make it work by constant communication and keeping things exciting.” – Macy, the College of William & Mary
“If you have a strong relationship, distance will not weaken it. Because of the distance, I appreciate every interaction and all the time we spend together much more.” – Maya, Virginia Commonwealth University
“The best way I can describe it is that he and I live our own, separate lives and come together when we can. We talk every day and fill each other in on what’s going on, but I know that basing my entire existence on someone a hundred miles away would start to slowly kill me after a while. It also helps that neither he nor I are jealous people, so I don’t feel like I have to be the only thing in his life in order for me to feel secure. I trust him.” – Kendall, the College of William & Mary
“When we were about to start our first semesters at Virginia Tech and William & Mary, there was no conceivable way to visit each other over that distance, but we did find a way. It’s not easy to live so far from the other person, but there’s always a way to keep up the love. Just have a lot of trust and allot time to the relationship and you’ll never grow too distant.” – Brian, Virginia Polytechnic Institute
That Special Something
“I would say that it was very difficult, especially in college, when both of us were experiencing lots of changes, but what made it work was setting apart time to talk daily but at the same time accepting that you can’t expect to talk to them as much as you did before you were long distance. It’s important to be realistic; as long as you evaluate your needs before deciding to do long distance and think you can handle a little less attention and put in the work it takes, it’s possible to have a close and meaningful relationship even when you’re far away.” – Lori, the College of William & Mary
“My boyfriend and I made long distance work by simply understanding that we are two individuals. We had to learn how to respect each other’s space and understand that things will come up. We could memorize each other’s class schedules as much as we wanted to but family, friends, clubs, etc. would come into play. We had to learn to trust one another and to not jump to every misguided conclusions. Even though sometimes we fought when we got greedy for attention and cried when we just need that hug. We still told each other that this was the rough patch of life. Everything is not fair, even when we want it to be, but when the late-night studying seemed endless we always had each other to lean on.” – Sierra, Virginia Wesleyan University
“It is going to be hard, but it gives you a really cool opportunity to hold onto a person who is important to you but still really branch out in college. If we were at the same school I feel like we would have to sacrifice some of the ways we like to recharge so we could be physically in the same space. Instead, we both get to do what fits out personalities better and then we Skype and call a lot when we have free time… We try to visit once a month. We know from experience after about 35 days we start to have a harder time connecting over the phone. You lose a lot of the intimacy that comes with being physically close and we kind of just revert to being best friends who talk a lot, not so much a couple.” – Jessica, the College of William & Mary
“You get used to it and your days become very productive.” – Franco, George Mason University
“My boyfriend moved to Chicago last spring and it’s been tough adjusting to it, even though we make it work. We try to schedule regular FaceTime around our busy schedules and Snapchat each other throughout the day. We always make sure to say goodnight to each other, whether it’s by text, phone or some other form of messaging. Also, I try to have a concrete idea of exactly when we’ll see each other again. It makes me feel better to know that if I can just get through however many weeks without him, I’ll be able to see him in the end.” – Becca, the College of William & Mary
Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
*Updated on November 20, 2017 by Tanjeen Twinkle to include “Five Pros and Cons of Long Distance Relationships.”
**Updated on April 26, 2018 to include “College Students Talk About How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work” by Cheyenne Curling.