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Do’s and Dont’s of a Long-Distance Relationship in College

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

My boyfriend and I have been friends for six years and together for over three years now. He’s seriously the most incredible guy I’ve ever met. He’s kind, smart, funny, handsome—the total package.

Kaleb and I are both 18, but this year he is a senior in the high school we both went to and I am a freshman at Penn State, forcing us to be long-distance for a year. Luckily for us, our long-distance relationship is temporary since he also committed to Penn State for the fall (We Are!), but going from seeing each other almost every day to once a month certainly wasn’t the easiest.

Over the past few months, I’ve been able to compile a list of tips and tricks both from my experience and from where I’ve seen other friends’ long-distance relationships go wrong. Whether your long-distance relationship is temporary like ours, more long-term, or simply a potential relationship you’re considering entering, here are some do’s and don’ts of long-distance.

D0: Facetime as often as you can

The great thing about long-distance relationships in 2022 is that you don’t have to rely on letters or texts sent back and forth to talk with your partner. I love getting to see Kaleb’s face, see where he is, what he’s up to and feel like I’m there.

When I say to FaceTime as often as you can, I do mean as often as you can. If you’re just sitting and doing homework, FaceTime them! Even if you’re just sitting there in silence typing away at an essay, you can feel like you’re there with your partner and feel them in the room. Kaleb and I have spent so many nights on FaceTime together while I do homework, read, clean my room, do laundry, talk to my roommate, literally anything but talking to each other. And that’s perfectly okay because we get to see each other’s faces and feel like we’re together.

Don’t: miss the big events

Obviously, this can’t always be helped, but do your best to make it to all of your partner’s bigger events. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, award ceremonies — these can all be incredibly lonely without your person there to support you. If they have a birthday on a Tuesday and you can’t possibly miss your classes that day that’s completely fine, but make an effort to go visit them the weekend before or make sure a package from you will arrive at their house on their big day! Show them that you’re thinking about them and that you care, even if you can’t be there.

do: visit whenever possible

This goes along with trying not to miss the big events, but seriously, if the opportunity pops up to see each other, TAKE IT, even if it’s slightly inconvenient. That hug and kiss you’ve been missing for weeks will make everything feel so much better. Visiting each other really can feel like a refresh button. If I’m feeling stressed from school and meetings and rehearsals and tests and whatever else is going on that week, the quickest and easiest cure-all is a big hug from my favorite person and a breakfast date at our favorite cafe. Make an effort to see each other as often as you can as long as it’s not at the expense of your mental health or bank account.

don’t: sacrifice your college experience

I’ve watched multiple friends struggle with this one. College is fun and there’s always so much going on, from football games to parties to concerts, and more. I knew one girl who avoided joining a club she was interested in because she worried it would take too much of her time and she’d never get to talk to her boyfriend. I knew another girl who wanted to go out with friends but felt like she couldn’t because her boyfriend wasn’t comfortable with it (and she knew he watched her Life360 like a hawk).

There have been nights where I’ve felt a little weird about hanging out with friends and not texting Kaleb for a few hours because I didn’t want him to feel like I was ignoring him. It’s an easy trap to slip into, especially when you’re an extrovert/introvert pair like Kaleb and me. I want to go out, he wants to stay in, I feel bad about leaving him just sitting at home (forgetting that he actually enjoys the night in).

At the end of the day, you only have a few short years of college. If you want to join that club, do it! If you want to go to that concert, do it! Remember that a healthy relationship isn’t controlling. You shouldn’t have to ask your partner for permission to go out, but it would be nice to let them know what you’re up to! Enjoy college and remember that you only get to do it once.

do: tell each other everything

Keep your partner updated on what’s happening in your life. When you get that good grade you were hoping for, tell them! If you get that award or you get a solo that you auditioned for, let them know. If you think your outfit is cute that day, send them a picture. If you think you look like you just crawled out of a garbage can one morning, make a joke about it.

Tell them that you just bought a smoothie or that you might meet up with some friends for dinner. Keep them involved with the little stuff, because if you were closer in proximity, they’d already know about it. Make it feel like they’re there with you. Your partner loves you, loves your little habits and loves being able to picture you going about your day-to-day routine.

don’t: forget to call

As Gen Zers, texting tends to come much more naturally to us than calling. However, I’ve gotten in the habit of calling Kaleb probably three times a day because there’s just such a huge difference between calling and texting. Getting to hear his voice is one of the highlights of my day.

Now, I get that phone calls feel like a bigger commitment than a text and if you’re a busy college kid, the idea of carving out time for a call can be daunting. However, if you go to Penn State, you know how long some of those walks are. I love calling Kaleb on my twenty-minute walk back to my dorm from class on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. When I’m sitting in my dorm doing homework at 8 p.m., I love calling him so I can be working consistently without having to check my phone for text messages. Sometimes those are the phone calls that end up going from eight to midnight while we both just chat with each other and do our own things. I promise you have little nuggets of time throughout your day to call, so take advantage of them.

do: get creative

When you’re miles apart, date nights can get difficult. I love Teleparty so much for movie nights. Teleparty is a Google Chrome extension that Kaleb and I use so that we can watch Netflix at the same time on our computers with a little chat bar on the side to talk to each other. I get so excited after a stressful day to pull out some ice cream and comfy clothes, then get settled in to watch an episode of Criminal Minds together.

About a month ago, Kaleb found another adorable app called NoteIt where you get to leave each other handwritten notes that go straight to your partner’s phone or iPad. There’s nothing better than waking up to a little “good morning beautiful” note in Kaleb’s handwriting. Both of these apps are completely free, and I’m sure there are others out there that would work for you! Just remember to think outside the box when it comes to dates.

Long-distance is never easy, but I promise it isn’t as horrible as some people make it sound. If you love your partner and you think they’re worth doing long distances for, then I promise you’ll be just fine. Although I will admit, I’m very excited for this year of long-distance to be over and for the rest of our lives together to start. Good luck!

Emma is a third-year Elementary and Early Childhood Education major at Penn State University. When she's not writing, you can usually find her singing, reading, painting, going on walks, hanging out with friends/her incredible boyfriend, and drinking iced chai lattes. Outside of Her Campus, Emma is the President of the Penn State Singing Lions, a Students United Against Poverty Ambassador, a member of the Phi Eta Sigma honors fraternity, and works at an after-school program.