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Emotionally Bridging the Physical Gap: How to Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

Editor's Note: Karen Hill, FCRH '14, was recently featured in November 2011 issue of Seventeen magazine with her boyfriend. The two were winners in the "Best Boyfriend in America" contest. Pay attention, collegiettes™, this girl knows what she's talking about!

Relationships are hard, but for ages women have been reassured by the cliché,“true love conquers all.” It is not the love that conquers all, but rather the strong, humble, determined, partners driven by love that conquer all the obstacles thrown down upon a relationship’s path.

Long distance is amongst the most terrifying obstacles any relationship could face. Take it from someone who has been in a relationship for two years- the majority of which has been spent separated by the Atlantic Ocean. Going into college with a relationship was not an easy decision, but it was the right one for me. The distance is scary, but I refuse to let it jeopardize my happiness. For those of you in long distance relationships, congratulations for making it thus far… I know it has been a challenge. Hopefully, some of my advice will help ease any tensions and help you find the fun in your relationship!

Communication is key to any successful relationship, but even more so in a long distance one. Communication, while the most important factor, can also be the most difficult. Sometimes it feels like the world is against you, but those challenges are only testing the strength of your relationship. Life gets to be like a hectic circus: trying to juggle homework, friends, clubs, and trying to talk to a boyfriend with hands equally as full as yours.  However, a circus is supposed to be fun and entertaining! Never look at a relationship as a stress. The more positive your attitude, the happier your conversations - and your relationship - will be!

Talking to your boyfriend all day everyday in college is unrealistic. Try to talk at least once a day for thirty minutes (not including texts and Facebook messages!) Don’t be a pest and constantly call your boyfriend, because your feelings will only be hurt when he does not answer. Life can be busy- you have to be willing to accommodate each others’ lifestyles. Give each other your schedules and plan in advance when would be a good time to talk. That way you have something to look forward to and know you will be stress free if you planned accordingly.

Long distance seems as daunting as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but as unfathomable as it may seem, long distance relationships can be worth that climb. Skype dates are a personal favorite of mine. Plan days ahead to stay in one weekend to watch your favorite movie together online. Bring food and dress up. With movie commentary and shared laughter, it feels almost like a real date. Hug your computer screen and kiss your camera goodnight, and you have the perfect ending to a romantic date. The date doesn’t have to end there! You can have a “Skype Sleepover!” Secure your computer on your bed, and leave it charging. Then, simply fall asleep together and wake up to each other. It may seem like an odd thing to do, but it feels just as if he were actually there.

Skype dates are perfect for the interim between visits and school breaks, provided you have the luxury of visiting each other at all. However, for those visiting each other once a week, it’s not necessary- it’s unhealthy. Visiting each other all the time not only kills that one precious moment of each other after months of anticipation. It also interrupts your college life. Trust that you and your boyfriend have a strong enough relationship to withstand days, weeks, or months of distance. It should go without saying that you should not transfer schools to be closer to each other. The sudden change from distance to practically living together will only send your relationship into fatal shock.

With too much focus on excessively seeing him, the expensive trips will clear out your bank account, the A’s on your transcript, and your list of friends. Don’t be ridiculous and skip classes for visits! Birthdays and anniversary’s can be celebrated with equal importance on the closest weekend. Frequent visits to and from your boyfriend will detract from the formation of crucial and close friendships with people on your own campus. I have come to learn that good friends have the beautiful power to diminish the looniness you feel when you miss your boyfriend.

Just because you and your boyfriend are physically apart doesn’t mean you can’t still always have a little part of each other. Care packages filled with inside jokes and favorite candies and love letters are sure to rekindle any possible dying romance. Your boyfriend may not be the corniest boyfriend in the world. Sometimes as girlfriends, it’s our job to lead by example. Take the initiative and send him one first! Then you can casually hint for something in return, or simply be content with your job well done.

Sometimes, you will most certainly want more from your boyfriend than he is capable of producing. We must be able to admit to ourselves “boys are stupid, but we love them anyway.” There will come times when you find yourselves fighting over menial problems exacerbated by the distance. Fights are normal and healthy, but only if you learn from them. Do not let little miscommunications turn into huge fights. Always be willing to drop them as soon as you realize how dumb the fight truly is. There is this evil thing called pride that never lets you back down, but you must push aside your pride for the sake of your relationship.

This is college; it’s time to be mature. You cannot get in a fight over every picture he is tagged in with another girl (no matter how slutty she looks). Remember he loves you, and he would rather be in a relationship with you will hundreds or thousands of miles in between, than even consider hooking up with the girl standing right next to him. You are so lucky to be with someone so dedicated and caring. He misses you just as much as you miss him!

It’s so easy to forget, not having him there to hold you and tell you personally, but you are not in the relationship alone. No matter how much you miss him, how jealous you get, or how many fights you get in, please DO NOT BREAK UP. If you feel you must end things, wait until you are in person. You will receive no form of closure if you break up via Skype. That will only lead to endless torturing thoughts of what could have been. When you get back together, because it will happen, things will only be worse.

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