10 Dos and Don’ts For Long Distance Relationships

It’s estimated by StatisticBrain.com that 4-4.5 million college couples in the U.S. are non-marital long distance relationships. But what is it like to be in a long-distance relationship? More importantly, how do couples who spend most of their time apart make it last?

Here are ten DOs and DON’Ts of long distance relationships, as told by Miami students with experience:

1. DO CommunicateCommunication has long been the key to making any relationship last, and it is the bread and butter to surviving long-distance couples. Whether it’s a simple good morning text, Skype or a phone call that lasts for over an hour, you need to communicate with your significant other (SO) if you want to stay connected.

“Always let the other person know you're thinking of them. The smallest things can mean the most,” says Elizabeth Whitney, a sophomore whose boyfriend Dean goes to University of Toledo. “Dean and I are always in communication, whether it's texting, snap chatting, calling, or face timing. My favorite form is face timing though, it makes it feel like he's right there. Sometimes we watch movies together over Netflix–that's the best!”

“When we were kind of back home, we sucked at texting each other. We just assumed we would link-up at some point in the day so it was fine,” says Ben Weiss, a sophomore in a long distance relationship. “I’m still not very good at responding back in a timely manner and she isn’t great at it [either], but we’ve gotten better at it, which is important to keep contact going.”

“I like phone calls better than texting,” Weiss adds. “Texting is good to keep in touch, but we’ll [talk] on the phone for an hour, which is a lot better for me and I know she likes that better too.”

2. DON’T Ignore Your SO or Fail to CommunicateWhile good communication can keep you and your SO together, bad communication is the surest way to a break up, especially when you and your SO are miles apart.

Emily Hanhart, a senior at Miami University, was in a long distance relationship that didn’t work out.

“We dated on and off throughout the first two years of college and finally called it quits right before my junior year. We drug it out for too long. Every time I went to school I got so busy with classes and outside organizations that it was hard to find time to stay connected,” Hanhart says.

3. DO Be Honest“Be honest.  Be upfront with her. If there’s a problem, then address it,” says Max Trubiano, a freshman whose girlfriend goes to Ohio University.

Without honesty, there’s no trust. And if your trust with your partner isn’t absolute, the relationship won’t last. Think about it like this: if you lie to your SO about what you did last night, how likely are you to believe your SO’s excuse for what he or she did the night before? It all boils down to trust.

“We really didn’t have a big sit down chat or anything because we’ve been dating for two years now, so we obviously trust each other completely. We weren’t really worried about going away and seeing other people,” Trubiano says. “It was just kind of understood what we would do, and if anything happened we would obviously just talk about it.”

“You have to have a lot of trust in each other because you will go crazy just wondering if they will find somebody else to hang out with while you’re gone,” says sophomore Bonnie Walters. She and her boyfriend Khemaran, who goes to University of Cincinnati, have been together for almost four years.

“Freshman year was a big eye-opener to whether or not Dean and I trusted each other to be able to make it work. It turned out that we did, but we both have a bit of a jealous gene in us. After we learned to control that it was smooth rolling!” Whitney says.

4. DO Put the Effort in to Making It Work“It really just requires you to be willing to work.  And, don’t be stupid. Be willing to work and put effort into it, and make sure that whoever else in the relationship is also willing to work,” says Jacob Maxson, a sophomore whose girlfriend goes to Michigan State University.

“When Dean and I went off to college we hadn't been dating that long and we didn't discuss the long-distance part of college except for saying that it was going to suck. We knew that if we wanted it to work, it would,” Whitney says. “Oh, and care packages and flowers always help too!”

“Give it your all if that person is truly worth it, but as soon as you start to doubt the longevity of the relationship, take a break and see how much you can grow without that person,” Hanhart says.

5. DO Make an Effort to See Your SOThat extra effort to have face-to-face time helps keep the relationship alive.

“[Dean] comes and visits every few weeks. But in the meantime, we tell each other everything and anything about our days so that the other one doesn't miss out on anything. I think that's the best thing. We include each other in our separate lives and make each other feel like the other one is there,” Whitney says.

“Honestly, we just text a lot. Occasionally we’ll Skype, usually about once a week. Trying to actually see them is a great thing, but it can be difficult sometimes,” Maxson says.

Seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend is particularly difficult when the distance is especially far. Kasey Meckert, a senior, went abroad for a semester while her boyfriend Daniel stayed at Miami, so seeing each other during that time was extremely problematic. That didn’t stop Daniel from flying to Sevilla, Spain anyways!

“Before going abroad,” Meckert says, “we both talked about keeping open communication so that we were always on the same page. We texted, Skyped and talked on the phone whenever there was free time, which was hard with the time difference.”

6. DON’T Be Depressed by the Distance A relationship in which you feel depressed or strained is an unhealthy relationship. If you are so reliant for attention from your SO, you’re not allowing your SO to live his or her own life, or vice versa.

“I’ve now gone a month without seeing her and yeah that’s kind of tough, but I’m going to see her in a week. It’s not like I’m destroyed from a mental or emotional standpoint,” Weiss says.

“Don't worry about the distance, if it's meant to be it will be,” Meckert says.

7. DO Value your time togetherSince you don’t have the chance to see each other often, take advantage of the time you do get to spend together. Be the best you that you can be and show your partner how much you appreciate that time.

“Not getting to see someone means that when you do get to see them you’re normally going to get along better because you’re valuing your time with them more, whereas, when you see each other every day, you just get naggy with each other and that doesn’t happen when we’re long distance. We don’t really get sick of each other and there’s not as much stress because we’re valuing the time we have together,” Weiss says.

8. DON’T Be Afraid to ChangeCollege is a time for self-discovery and you can’t let your long distance relationship get in the way of you becoming the person you want to be. It’s equally as important to live your life without your SO by your side. You shouldn’t have to miss out on opportunities because your partner isn’t there.

“College is a personal journey for everyone and it’s up to that individual to decide who they want by their side through it all. However, you only do college once so don’t rush into thoughts of marrying your high school sweetheart mid-freshman year,” Hanhart says. “When we were dating, it was like I had one foot in one world (life at Miami) and one foot in the other (home), and I couldn’t fully immerse myself in college.”

“Mainly I would say you have to evolve,” Walters says. “Long distance changes everything and it is really uncomfortable sometimes, but you just have to embrace it and work around it.”

“I am able to go to college and find myself and concentrate on my academics without having my boyfriend here to distract me,” Whitney says.

9. DO Support Your Partner“You have to be supportive. It’s so important to be genuinely happy for the other person when something goes right for them, or be able to encourage them to try new things. You have to be okay with the fact that they are being successful even without you around,” Walters says.

Not only is college a time for you to change, but it is also an opportunity for your SO to change. Giving him or her space and supporting them even when it’s something that makes it more difficult for you two to see each other will help keep you together.

“What worked well for us was leaving enough space for each other so that neither of us ever felt like we had to hold back when it came to doing things at school or abroad. I’ve known long distance couples that set boundaries for their significant others and I think that is the worst thing you can do,” Meckert says. “I had someone at home looking out for my best interests. It was comforting to know that Danny was there to talk on the phone if I ever got homesick. He was really supportive and encouraged me to take full advantage of [going] abroad, which is something I really appreciated.”

10. DON’T Give Up Because You’re Afraid It Won’t Work OutLong distance relationships have a bad reputation for not lasting, yet according to Statistic Brain 75 percent of engaged couples have been in a long distance relationship and 3.75 million marriages are long distance relationships.

“I know long distance relationships have a really bad rep,” Weiss says. “For every horror story you have there are five success stories for how [things] worked out. The people who long distance relationships don’t work out for are very loud about it, and the people it does work out for are not necessarily speaking up as loud.”

“I'm dating my best friend and it's wonderful,” Whitney says.

By Tess Sohngen