Keeping your Long Distance Relationship Afloat

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Whether it’s a two hour drive or a two hour plane ride, distance in a college relationship can create a whole host of obstacles. Having a strong and healthy relationship is hard enough with the high demands of unpredictable college schedules and extra curriculars, but throw a couple hundred miles into the mix and it can seem almost impossible. After surviving two years of skype dates and see-you-later’s with my S.O., I have learned a few basic tips and tricks to helping keep my LDR afloat despite it all.

  1. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

This seems obvious, but I don’t just mean just text each other consistently. I mean communicate. Share your lives with each other, share the little things, sit down and talk to them on the phone about your day so they can hear the excitement in your voice as you explain that new thing you learned in your favorite class that morning.

  1. Maintain realistic expectations, but never settle

My S.O. and I began our relationship as a long distance couple. We had known each other before college, but had made a conscious decision not to get involved before I moved away. After a few months of getting “the college experience”, we realized that we really did want to build a relationship together. I am saying this to clarify that all we know as a couple is distance. We get a taste of normalcy over the summer and winter breaks (and let me tell you, it’s pretty nice) but distance is our normal, at least for now. For those of you who may be continuing a high school romance, or have transferred schools and are trying to keep your relationship afloat, please know that your expectations of what it means to be in a relationship are going to have to adjust. You aren’t going to have the same relationship you had before, and that is okay. What is important is that you know what you need from the relationship, and refuse to settle for anything less. Maintain your standards and make sure that you are happy, but be reasonable about the situation you both are in.

  1. Trust

This doesn’t really need much explaining. If you are living miles away from your S.O. you really need to trust that they respect both you and your relationship. It is okay to set boundaries, but at the end of the day if you can’t have faith in your S.O., long distance just is not going to work out.

  1. Know each other’s love languages

Take the quiz!

I feel like this has been a buzz topic recently so I won’t go into too much detail, but understanding your own as well as your S.O.s love languages is so incredibly helpful. In long distance relationships, you might have to get a little creative with how to satisfy these different languages but in the long run understanding how you feel the most love and how to make sure your S.O. feels loved is essential.

An example – My S.O. and I both have quality time as one of our love languages, so we schedule one extra-long skype session together where we watch an episode of our favorite show and chat about random things. It sounds kind of silly but knowing that we have each spent a few hours focusing solely on each other helps us feel more connected.

  1. Find little ways to remind them you care

This will vary person to person, I like to send little letters or gifts in the mail, but finding little ways to remind them you care is invaluable in an LDR. Maybe think about your S.O.s love language if you are having trouble thinking of ways to surprise them!

  1. Don’t be afraid to have the hard conversations

This ties back to #1, but if you are too scared to have challenging conversations with your S.O., the distance just might knock you down. There are going to be problems, mis-communications, etc. You need to be able to sit down on the phone and take on the uncomfortable. This doesn’t mean you need to have a full blown-argument, but finding a way to tackle obstacles won’t just keep your relationship afloat, but will also make it stronger.

  1. Make time for each other

Schedule your time! I have had to shift my mindset so that I treat phone calls and skype dates as I would treat a scheduled date when we are together. It is so easy to bump things back with your S.O. in favor of social events or other opportunities that are closer by, but respecting your S.O.s time and following through on your plans is so important. Every chat doesn’t need to be hours long- I find that just getting 5 to 10 minutes on the phone and hearing his voice can be enough- but try to get a little time every day to connect with each other.

  1. Have a life outside of the relationship

As important as it is to make time for each other, also be sure to make time for yourselves! Don’t spend so much time focused on your relationship that you miss out on opportunities around you. This is something I can be guilty of, because it is so easy to turn to your S.O. for everything, but staying connected with your friends and taking advantage of all the fun college has to offer is so important for your own happiness! Get involved in groups on campus, socialize, spend quality time with your friends, and don’t live your entire college career on the phone with your S.O. 700 miles away.

  1. Make sure you are happy

This one I will keep short and simple – if your relationship is bringing you more unhappiness and stress than it is joy and fulfillment, it probably isn’t working.

Long distance relationships are not easy, there will be times of stress and sadness, but they should not make up the majority of the relationship. Some otherwise good relationships just cannot survive the distance, and that is okay. It is hard to know when to let go, but be honest with yourself and put your happiness first.

  1. Ignore the Naysayers

There is such a stigma around long distance relationships in college that it can be hard to avoid the negative comments.

“Long distance relationships never work!”

“You’re still dating someone from high school?”

“You’re missing out on the college experience!”

My boyfriend and I are a little different in that we knew each other in high school, but didn’t start dating until spring of freshman year in college. The first few months I went to parties, made friends, and behaved as any freshman would, and honestly I don’t feel like there was anything valuable from my first year of being a single college student that I am not able to experience now as a student in an LDR. While yes, I don’t hook up with strangers at parties because of my relationship, I can still go out and dance with my friends and have a blast. If anything, I enjoy my social life more now without the added pressure of trying to appeal to boys or worrying about whether or not he will text me back, etc.

A healthy long distance relationship will not detract from, and maybe even enhance, your college experience. If you are happy and feel fulfilled, tune out the negative comments (especially from those who have never been in your position) and just enjoy.

I hope that these tips were helpful or resonated with any of you who may be struggling through or considering starting a long distance relationship. I am in no ways a relationship expert, nor do I always remember to abide by these 10 tips, but I find that when I do my relationship is much stronger.

Comment below and let me know your LDR experience!

All the best,

Caroline Lee

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