At the end of the summer, you’ll have to decide whether it’s worth keeping your high school sweetheart or summer fling, or if it’s time to set him free. A long distance relationship can feel like a voyage into treacherous waters. If you’re getting ready to leave home port while leaving your significant other behind or watching him leave on his own voyage, don’t freak out if your peers are all telling you it’s a bad idea. Let these 11 tips from veterans be your map as you begin your long distance relationship.
Keep reading for all the long distance relationship tips you need to survive to last until your next visit.
1. Give it a try
After investing blood, sweat and tears into the relationship, why give up on it just because of a few extra miles? What’s the point of connecting and spending all this time with someone, knowing you’ll just break it off at the end of the summer? “Try it. You never know what the outcome is. It’s worth it. Just make sure it’s someone that makes you happy and you’re always communicating,” said Florida State University junior Manuel Garaboa.
2. Accept it’s not going to be a walk in the park
While there’s no harm in trying, you have to be sure you’re both aware of what’s to come. Walking into something with half of your heart will leave one person in agony, and the other indifferent. “A long distance relationship is a huge commitment. But you both have to be on the same page in your relationship or it’s hard for it to work out,” said Florida State University junior Ian Maltz. Talk it out with your significant other and see if this is something you’re both willing to make sacrifices.
3. Look into the future
No one’s asking you to pop the question, but seriously think about it. Can you see life going on without this person as soon as tomorrow? “If you can’t see a future at all with this person than long distance is definitely not worth it. I would much rather be long distance with my boyfriend than not with him at all, and that’s what you have to think about,” said Florida State University junior Katerina Perez.
4. Loosen the reins
The tighter you hold on to something, the easier it is to destroy. Long distance relationships require a delicate balance of allowing space to roam while recognizing boundaries. Citadel junior Kyle Krohn said healthy relationships are built on trust rather than control. “My girlfriend and I instead set ground rules for each other at the beginning of our relationship to have an understanding of what we expect from one another.”
5. Grow up, not apart
Some people say the distance makes you grow apart, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Florida International University graduate Tesi Sanz said the college years she spent away from her high school boyfriend allowed her to mature while her feelings remained the same.“When he was gone, I had to figure out how to be myself again for four years. I was still the same person when he got back, but I was able to become my own person without him there all the time. Two people who grew up separately still wanted to be with each other.”
6. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. your relationship
You’ll definitely need to find out what that means if your long distance relationship has a shot.“Simply do not cheat. Respect yourself; respect your significant other. If you feel like your temptations are getting the best of you, be mature and tell them. If you felt they were worth going the distance (literally) then they deserve your honesty,” said University of Miami sophomore David Cline. Each couple has to set its own boundaries to feel secure while apart.
7. Remember you still have someone to lean on
With college comes change, and each student adjusts differently. If you’re choosing to be in a long distance relationship, that means you want the other person to be involved in your life despite the distance.”Moving to a new place was definitely hard for me, so knowing that I can just talk to David [her boyfriend] and let him know how I’m feeling was great. Also, I liked that no matter how crappy of a day I was having or how gross I felt, David was always there to make it better,” said Florida State University sophomore Scarlett Dunkley. While you can’t physically interact with your significant other while you’re apart, remember his loving words and comfort are only a phone call away.
8. Find creative ways to stay connected
You don’t have to limit those conversations to phone calls.“While I’ve been abroad we’ve been using this app called ‘Couple.’ There’s a feature called ‘thumbkiss’ where we both touch our screens and it’s like our fingers are touching each other,” said Florida State University junior Katerina Perez. Couples used to survive long distance before cellphones were invented, so take advantage of the technological age you were born into and try out new things to feel close while you’re apart.
9. Surround yourself with support
Long distance relationships are not immune to peer pressure, and college life makes it that much harder. If your friends are all trying to convince you to lie or cheat on your significant other, then they probably don’t have your best interest at heart. “Surprisingly, my friends were supportive of my long distance relationship. I’ve never been asked more than once to do something after I said no. I could enjoy myself no matter what my friends’ intentions were for the night. If your friends respect you, they won’t have a problem,” said University of Pennsylvania graduate Ricky Sanz.
10. Get used to tearful goodbyes
Saying goodbye to your long distance significant other is going to be painful and messy. “It was hard to drop off my girlfriend at her house when I had to leave back to college because we were never sure when we would see each other again. We would cry our eyes out in the car every time,” said Florida State University junior Nick Arias. After cramming as much time as possible together throughout the summer, the initial separation is going leave you feeling inconsolable, and in need of a giant tub of ice cream.
11. …But look forward to reuniting (‘cause it feels so good)
Even though goodbyes suck, imagine how amazing reuniting will feel. After weeks, months or even years of not seeing someone, that moment when you reunite is surreal and unparalleled.“When I finally see the guy that I love for the first time in a month or so, I get so happy, and nothing else really matters at the moment. Every time we see each other its like the first time, which always brings butterflies to my stomach,” said Florida International University junior Carolina Cardenas. You’ll cherish each touch more than before, and remember at each goodbye that there will always be a hello to come.
Headed to College with an S.O.? Here’s what real college students have to say about keeping the flame alive.
Written by Kerri Pinchuk, senior, journalism, University of Maryland
Monogamy. Trust. Commitment. Look it up. For a majority of students, hookups and flings are surely more logical ways to spread the love. But for a few brave freshmen, the start of college means the start of a committed, long-distance relationship. Whether your significant other is heading off to a school across the country or still facing another year in the halls of high school, you’re not the first crazy couple to attempt the feat.
The question is: Can you make your long distance relationship work?
“The only way a relationship can ever succeed is if both parties have full trust in each other,” said University of Florida senior Lindsey Heller, who has been dating her boyfriend, also a senior, for six years. When graduation sent her boyfriend to Washington, D.C., and Heller to Gainesville, FL, the couple decided to stay together. And despite friends’ insistence that the arrangement wouldn’t last, it has.
Heller admitted that the most challenging thing about maintaining the relationship throughout college is being unable to see each other as often as they’d like. The couple spends time together about once a month.
“There are times when all you want to do is see and spend time with the person you love, and not really being able to is certainly difficult,” she said, adding that temptation should not be an issue if both people are truly committed.
But for many freshmen who start the year attached, staying true to a partner is easier said than done. Sure, senior prom was a magical night that sealed your everlasting love, but what happens when you hit college and that cutie down the hall asks for some 2 a.m. tutoring time?
Indiana University sophomore Jason Emory* blamed the party atmosphere of college for the demise of his relationship. When Emory boarded a plane for Bloomington his freshman year, his girlfriend of five months was just beginning her senior year of high school.
“I don’t know if I thought we’d be together forever, but I wanted to try,” he said, adding that his college decision had little to do with his school’s distance from his home of Philadelphia.
Less than a month into the school year, however, Emory found himself “living the dream.” In student speak: going out, getting wasted and hooking up with a different girl every weekend.
“There are so many beautiful girls [at school], and everyone is really about having a good time,” said Emory, who “had no choice” but to break the news to his high school sweetheart via Skype. “She was real upset . . . but we were in different worlds, plus the distance. I didn’t want to hurt her anymore.”
With the lure of these new “opportunities” and an environment more conducive to chaos than chastity, many couples find that going the distance might not be worth the work.
When Florida State University senior Alexandra Cohen left for Tallahassee during the summer before her freshman year, she also left behind her boyfriend, who attended a school near their hometown of Miami. Things started off well with frequent visits and constant communication on the phone and Internet, but as Alexandra grew into her life away from home, it all changed.
“It became so hard having to balance a real college experience with a healthy relationship,” said Cohen, who remembers the countless arguments involving jealousy, disapproval, trust and lack of communication that led to the couple’s downfall.
“Understanding that you and your partner live two separate lives with different friends, events and schedules is a difficult concept to adjust to after sharing one life for such a long time,” she said. Though their commitment didn’t stand the test of freshman year, Cohen says she and her ex remain on good terms and are in close contact.
“It’s really challenging to make a decision that will please both you and your partner,” Cohen said. “Know that every decision you make is going to affect either your college experience or your relationship.”
*Updated June 22, 2015 by Kerri Pinchuk to include “Headed to College with an S.O.? Keep the Flame Alive.”