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Managing your long-distance relationship while in college

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SBU chapter.

Saying hello to a new year at college sometimes means saying goodbye (for now) to your significant other. From 50 miles to 5,000 miles apart, long-distance relationships are difficult. There are no more “on my way” texts followed by your partner knocking on your doorstep. There are no more in-person movie nights where you spend the majority of the time being indecisive and scrolling through Netflix for two hours. That person is not physically there for hugs, kisses, and wiping away the tears after a horrible day. Long distance sucks. Despite the unfortunate reality of the situation, there are ways to balance your hectic college life and make time for your relationship in ways that make it all worth it.

While at separate colleges, my boyfriend and I are 398 miles or a seven-hour car ride apart. He attends Stony Brook University while I am at St. Bonaventure University (both SBU- how cute!). I am very thankful that we are still in the same state, and that when we are home on break we are only ten minutes down the road. However, it is still hard. To cope, we like to send each other texts mocking the couples that walk hand and hand around campus and joke that we are going to meet each other at the dining hall. At the end of the day, I would not change our situation because it has grown our relationship in a way that never would have happened if we were together all of the time. Our communication, patience and trust have increased exponentially.

For your long-distance relationship to succeed at college, it is imperative that you make time for the other person while giving them ample space to live their life independently. Especially as a freshman, it is easy to go into school and use your relationship as a crutch, relying on constant phone calls and messages just to get through the day. Everything must be done in moderation, therefore, communicating too much can tarnish the value that your conversations have. That being said, do not let life get so chaotic that you aren’t talking to them at all. My boyfriend and I were trying to navigate our respective college lives as freshmen last year and we did not call and text as much as we wanted to. What helped us was looking at our schedules and then setting a few times a week where we would have no distractions and we could catch up. Sending that “I hope you have a great day,” or “good luck on your biology exam” goes a long way!

In addition, take advantage of the technology we have. On the weekends my boyfriend and I would use Teleparty which is an extension on your computer browser where you can watch movies and videos together and chat while doing so. You can play video games together from miles away, you can call each other while going on a walk, or you can make a private Instagram or Snapchat story to update them on your day-to-day life. There is so much technology can offer.

My next tip would be to actually write out old fashion letters. My mom tells me stories of waiting for letters from her long-distance military boyfriend when she was a college freshman. He would send her mail from Italy and Guam, and get pictures developed so he could send them to her. How Nicholas Sparks is that? Everyone loves getting mail. Especially when you are first entering college and you are missing the people you love. There’s something cathartic about ripping the seal to a letter and anxiously awaiting to see what is inside. Last year I sent my boyfriend letters and packages with his favorite snacks, silly socks, and things I thrifted. Every letter he sent me I hung up on the back of my desk so that I could reread it when I was missing him or going through the roller coaster that is called college. This is your sign to purchase some stamps and look up how to address a letter to someone, because you probably have not done it since your sixth-grade teacher made you address a letter to your future self.

If you are able, visiting each other is a great way for your long-distance partner to get to know your school and your new friends. Setting that date to visit them gives you something to look forward to and makes the distance a bit more manageable. This is my sophomore year of college and my boyfriend is coming to visit for the first time since we have had a bit of trouble with figuring out transportation. He will be here in two weeks and one day (but who ‘s counting?)! He is so excited to meet all my friends I have spent countless hours talking about, and see the place where I spend most of my year. I have a countdown app on my phone where I can check the time until we see each other again which helps me look forward to that date. It can become unhealthy to check the countdown too much. While it is good to have the visit to look forward to, make sure you are staying present and focusing on your school work, friends, and other things that you do on campus.

The most important thing when managing your long-distance relationship is to shift your perspective. Many people think that long distance is not worth it. They may think that way because they are too focused on the things they can not have instead of the things that are strengthened as a result of it. People are easy to give up when things get difficult. However, people in a lasting and healthy relationship will support one another and work together to endure the hard parts. College is stressful. You are battling homesickness, being independent, doing school work, having a job, being a part of clubs and missing those that you love. I’m here to tell you that it is possible to have that relationship that lasts even when the outside world says it won’t. As they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder.

Kim Mitchell is a member of the SBU Her Campus chapter. This is her second year writing for the site. Kim covers advice and experience pertaining to college life and emotional well-being. She also covers popular media such as trending telivision shows and books. Kim is currently a senior at St.Bonaventure University. She is pursuing a bachelor of arts in psychology and a spanish minor with aspirations to attain a masters in clinical mental health counseling. When she is not writing you can find Kim singing in her church's worship band, outside enjoying nature, or curled up with a good book. She is always down to challenge you in a game of Mario Kart, knowing full well she will probably be in last place.