Long Distance Relationships in College: What Real Couples Have to Say

Long distance is a test to any relationship, especially when you're busy all the time. And that's college for you; endless stress, papers, tests, forgetting to call your family to let them know you’re alive, and maintaining your friendships.

To add a romantic relationship in the mix feels nearly impossible. It’s even more difficult when your significant other goes to a different school than you, or is not even in the same time zone as you, and you're attempting to bridge the gap between the distance.

When my boyfriend and I started doing long distance, I hated it. And I still do. But with time it eventually got easier, and we learned a few tricks in the process to make it all a bit sweeter.

I decided to ask other long distance couples about their relationships. What's difficult? What advice would they give? And what little things make the distance easier?

 

PATIENCE & EVA

Patience and Eva, who have been dating since February 2017, discussed how their relationship was able to grow with distance. Eva is a junior here at American University, and Patience is a Junior at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. They're both from New Jersey and live 20 minutes away from one another.

They met on Tinder; Eva explained, “In high school it was difficult to meet girls because a lot weren’t out yet, so tinder was a good place to meet people who were. When you came across the occasional closet gay, if you didn’t match, you moved on.”

Eva was the only person Patience ever met up with from tinder, and they have been dating ever since. With way they spoke to one another, you could tell they had a mutual understanding and bond. They loved one another.

The two explained that before they went to school, “We judged long distance couples that thought it would work…we assumed they were living in a fantasy. But then we couldn’t justify dating to break up.”

Like most couples, when they started doing long distance it wasn't easy. There was a discussion involved, weighing the options of staying together versus breaking up. It's a harsh reality. You have your ups and downs as in any relationship. So why chose to do it with distance then?

I've thought about this in my own relationship, so I posed the question to Eva and Patience, and their responses were doting and loving. Patience told me, “We never had any doubt, we were in it for the long term not just current happiness.”

I also asked them about what things make long distance work. What advice would you give to other couples?

“Brutal honesty at all times even when you know it’s going to hurt the other person,” Patience said. The two explained that without honesty, there wouldn’t be a foundation for their relationship.

Another key element the two suggested is, “You don’t need to talk to each other all the time. You don’t have to know everything the other person is doing all the time, just little updates.”

Facetime dates are so important to the pair. They told me how they plan the dates so that they can see each other, and it keeps them committed to a timeline. For them, it’s important to have the connection of a face to face interaction.

I posed to Patience and Eva the question, "What’s one quirky thing you do as a couple that makes long distance bearable?"

Patience over facetime rummages through her things and pulls out a thick brown book bound with a rubber band.

She smiles at Eva and says, “This is a scrapbook we do together, this is the completed one. We have all our memories in it together. We try to save important things that happen in our individual lives to add as well.”

She flips through the pages showing me tokens from their relationship. On the very first page there are two soda tabs from their second date.

“I saved them both," Eva says. She tells me that she wanted to remember the date, and consequently, they ended up in the scrapbook.

 

NICK & SANTIAGO

Nick and Santiago are both from Connecticut. Nick attends Stony Brook University in Stony Brook New York, and he’s starting his second year. His boyfriend of over a year, Santiago, is entering his second year as a part time student at Manchester Community College in Manchester, Connecticut.

I spoke to Nick over the phone, and he gave me an understanding of his and Santiago’s relationship.

"There was never any hesitation to try long distance, we knew we wanted to be together,” he told me.

The two have braved the distance for about a year now. They started dating during their senior year of high school, and they spent nearly every day together. He said it was huge adjustment from spending all of their time together to just one weekend every month.

Just as I had asked Eva and Patience, I asked Nick and Santiago what their biggest struggle was with long distance was.

Nick smirked and said, “Distance…kidding. Honestly, the communication gets misinterpreted.” Their arguments happen because they don’t understand what the other is talking about. Some things get lost in translation, especially through text.  

Nick said the advice they would give to others is, “COMMUNICATION, write that in all caps."

It’s so important to talk to your other half and tell them how you feel; don’t hold back, because you’re only hurting yourself. “You have to trust the person you’re with because if you don’t, you’ll just end up making yourself go crazy."

Both Nick and Santiago said they keep themselves busy to avoid missing one another. The two continue to work on their relationship, as do all couples moving forward.

Talking to these other couples got me thinking about my own relationship. I have been dating my boyfriend, Jack, for two years now. Long distance is all we have ever known. We started dating our freshman year, but we attend different schools. When we go home for breaks, unlike most couples, we go to different states and even different time zones.

In all honesty, the commonality I see between my own relationship and the relationships of the other couples' I interviewed is that there was never any doubt on if it was the right thing to do. To make a decision about being with someone, even if that means you're hours apart, is worth it. It’s difficult as we all expressed, but it’s not impossible. Communication, trust and honesty are keys to any healthy relationship, but with long distance they are stressed even more.

So, does that feeling of missing someone ever go away? Do you stop missing the other person eventually? To some extent, it gets easier, but it never goes away. Being apart is just a reality couples have to face, but knowing that you're not the only one feeling this way can help you move forward.

Photo 1: Photo by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash