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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Cal Poly chapter.

Dating in the 21st century has become more and more complicated as the years have passed. All over social media, we see what relationships “ought to look like,” leading young adults to compare their relationships to what seems ideal or perfect. Adding long distance to that mix only complicates things further, making it difficult to navigate certain boundaries and expectations within a romantic relationship. However, not all relationships are the same, and everyone’s standards are different. That being said, there are a few key topics that should always be covered in a relationship, especially when transitioning to long-distance. 

Establishing your relationship status

A new location is a vast change in a relationship, and sometimes the idea of seeing other people while maintaining a relationship together might come up. Before leaving for college, or at least once you get there, you should figure out with your partner whether you want to continue having a monogamous relationship or shift into an open one. Open relationships tend to be messier and sometimes lead to more drama, so keep that in mind when determining what you want your relationship to look like for the foreseeable future. 

Sexual boundaries

Similar to relationship status, sexual boundaries change once physical distance and location have changed. A lack of physical touch, especially when physical touch is a primary love language, can change the dynamic of a relationship. If you choose to have an open relationship, does that mean opening up the bedroom to include others? Or if you choose to stay monogamous, maybe incorporate sexting and risque FaceTime calls? Even if sex isn’t that big of a deal to you and your partner, it’s still worth having a conversation about to be sure you two are still on the same page.

Communication expectations

Establishing how often you and your partner want to communicate is incredibly important. Is that one FaceTime call going to be every evening? No texting Saturday nights since you’re out with your girls? Is sending and receiving love letters once a month adequate? Whatever that looks like to you, you need to figure that out with your partner to ensure some frequency of communication.  

Emotional dumping

This is a slightly heavier topic which may seem oddly specific, but I can guarantee it will come up for every long-distance couple. Emotional dumping is when one person vents to another person without taking into consideration how this may affect the mental state of the person listening. We all have the urge to rant to our partners about whatever may be bothering us. However, when it starts to have a detrimental effect on their emotional health, we need to take a step back and examine things. Work out with your partner how you want to go about heavy rants and conversations with them.  Shoot them a text that says, “Can I rant to you right now?” or “I’ve had a rough day today. Are you okay with me venting to you about it?” Prefacing these sorts of conversations with a quick message is important and can prevent one partner from feeling overwhelmed with what the other partner is dealing with.

Setting boundaries makes long-distance dating much easier since you already have a set list of expectations for your relationship. These boundaries and expectations can be subject to change depending on the situation, but having a solid list allows for a much more stable relationship to be maintained. 

Carisa Joyner

Cal Poly '25

Carisa is a first year English major. She wrote for her high school's online newspaper, the Veritas Shield, about politics, relationships, campus news, etc and worked as the Social Media Editor her Senior year. In her free time, Carisa enjoys going on little adventures with her friends, and sharing photos from her life on VSCO.