Long Distance Relationships – What to Expect and How to Deal

Going off to college is a big deal; you’re moving out, you’re away from your parents, you’re meeting new people, and you’re being introduced to new ideas. Because of all this change, there’s a multitude of things to consider as you start this new chapter in your life. You have to buy stuff for your dorm, pick out a meal plan, figure out whether to bring your car, set up payment plans, apply for scholarships, build your resume, and work to save up some spending money. But, most importantly, (and perhaps the most difficult) you have to prioritize your relationships. Relationships, not just with a significant other, but with your friends and family, are complex and deep and are presented with significant challenges when you decide to get an education.  

My biggest fear about coming to college was that I would be lonely. I’m the type of person that thrives off of being with people, and that’s why I stayed in my relationship and kept in touch with old friends that I didn’t need in my life. I thought that staying in touch and maintaining what the relationship had would keep me connected to the way my life was before and that I wouldn’t be alone. I put in a lot of effort to friendships that were “convenient.” In high school, there are only so many people to meet, and all of those relationships are defined early on. I was in the same friend group and relationship all throughout middle and high school, and when I moved into my dorm, I was terrified of losing everything. I was putting a lot of effort into one-sided relationships, and it started to become mentally and emotionally draining. I felt obligated to be in these relationships solely based on the thought that “I put a lot of time into them.” It took me meeting some of the most amazing people in college, people who were effortlessly my friends from the start, to realize that to realize the relationships I was trying to salvage were not worth it. I was fortunate enough to make the most fantastic group of friends so quickly, and it helped me to understand that the quality of friends determines the importance of the relationship. 

Relationships with a significant other are particularly hard because of the emotional ties you hold with that person. I had been dating the same guy since the start of my junior year, so when things started to fall apart when I moved away, I was devastated. I knew going into it that it would be hard to stay together; long distance is not an easy task. But we rarely talked to each other, and our schedules never permitted time for the other. It was at the point where I would hear from him (maybe) once a week, and at some point, I had to draw the line. I brought it up to him, and we mutually agreed that we weren’t meant to have a long-distance relationship and ended things. It was hard at the time; I loved this guy, and he meant so much to me, but it lifted such a huge weight off my shoulders. I wish I had just done it earlier; I could’ve saved myself a lot of time and effort.  

TLDR; evaluate and prioritize your relationships BEFORE you get to college. It will suck, and it might be painful, but you will thank yourself later. If you feel like your relationships are strong enough and worth the time and effort, then go for it! Make that commitment! But you’ve got to consider how tough it might be and decide for YOU if it’s the right choice. I wish more than anything that had taken the time to evaluate what was important and healthy in my life before move-in day because I could’ve been much better off.