Let me preface this by giving some background on my relationship; my boyfriend and I started dating right before our senior year of high school. In high school, I was the girl who wanted to wait until I went to college to “find my soulmate,” and I had full intentions of doing so until I met Barrett. We had sort of an unconventional start. The first day we hung out, he genuinely thought we were not going to have anything more than a senior-year fling, ut the day after, everything changed. We spent the entire day together and, well, the rest is history. Fast forward to filling out college applications, we decided that we both wanted to go to the University of Alabama, and that is what we did. However, after the first semester, my family was unable to afford tuition any longer. I had to transfer back home to Texas, and thus our long-distance relationship began.
With our background story out of the way, let me tell you that long-distance relationships are hard. Perhaps one of the hardest things that two people can go through together. But that does not mean they cannot work. Here is a list of things that I wish I knew before starting a long-distance relationship:
- Communication is key.
I know everybody says this, but it is so true. The trick is that you have to figure out how you communicate best and how your partner communicates best. For my relationship, we focused on our love languages. If you do not know what love languages are, they are five sectors of how people give and receive love. They are physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, and quality time. My personal love languages are quality time and words of affirmation, while my boyfriend’s are physical touch and words of affirmation. While we do have words of affirmation in common, you also have to consider what love language you are best at receiving. For me, I am best at giving acts of service, while he is best at giving quality time. Now you’ll see that this doesn’t line up perfectly and that is okay. This only means that we had to communicate through our differences in what we needed to figure out the areas that both of us could improve to continue to make our relationship work.
- It doesn’t always work.
When I say it doesn’t always work, it doesn’t always work. It definitely depends on what type of relationship you have and what both of you need out of a relationship. I have seen many of my friends fall out of love or stop working in their long-distance relationship and they always come to me and ask “How do you make it work”? For that, I don’t really have the answer, because sometimes it just falls apart and that is a completely normal part of relationships. Maybe it was the timing, or the person. You might never know, but all you take from that relationship is the lesson you learned about what works for you and what does not.
- It depends on what type of relationship you have.
This is going back to the love languages. If both you and your partners love languages are physical touch, then long-distance might not be the best type of relationship for you and that is a conversation that you have to have with your partner. This goes without saying that you can make it work, you can fight and try and push to make your relationship work in long-distance and I have seen it happen. But, if your relationship fails, it does not necessarily mean that your partner did not love you enough, it just means they weren’t receiving love the way that they needed to, and that is okay.
- It takes a whole lot of work.
Long distance is hard. I have said this about a million times to everyone I meet in a long-distance relationship. When you have your partner next to you or in the same city as you, it is a million times easier to go see them or text them and say “hey, come over later”. For me personally, I did long-distance with my boyfriend in Alabama. We only got to see each other about twice a semester which was honestly the worst thing in the world but to make up for it, we talked on the phone three times a day and periodically texted throughout the day to check on each other and that worked for us. When you are in a long-distance relationship, you do not have that luxury. To see them for even a day, you have to plan in advance, then pack, make arrangements for your animals, drive or fly to see them just to come back in two days missing them all over again. It takes a lot of work to just plan to see them for a small amount of time, but if you put in that work it will further your relationship.
- It is okay to be frustrated.
When you first enter into a long-distance relationship, there is an adjustment period. It is exactly like going to college and being away from you parents. You are in a brand-new place without anyone and you don’t have the few people you love around you at all times. During this adjustment period, it is okay to get extremely frustrated. It is okay to throw things and scream at walls and get mad. I know I definitely did. It is also okay to get mad at your partner. This is an adjustment period for them too. For me, I felt like my boyfriend was not putting in enough effort when we first entered long-distance, but for anything to change, I had to communicate that with him in order for him to know that I was feeling like that. After that communication, he realized he needed to do more, and we established our system of calling. Once again, this worked for us, but you have to figure out what works for you.
- It is okay to cry.
This builds off of being frustrated. I cried so much, and I still cry because I miss my boyfriend when he is not around. College is a time filled with trials and triumphs and to not have your best friend right there with you is hard. Those hard days are even harder, and those good days could be better. What I like to say when it comes to this though, cry it out. Cry it all out until there is nothing left to cry. Take you day to be said and then get up the next morning ready to take on the world like the boss you are.
- It is okay to have temptation.
This is honestly one of the biggest things I can talk about and I wished someone told me about it before entering long-distance. Temptation is always around you but when you partner is right beside you, you are focused on them rather than everyone else. When your partner is not there, you start to notice people. What they look like, how they are behaving, if they talk to you, etc. This is how temptation begins and that is okay. It is okay to see someone and think “they are really attractive” but the key difference is that if you act on that temptation, you are not only hurting your partner but yourself. Cheating in a relationship hurts both parties and I think it happens more often in long-distance relationships simply because your partner is not there with you. My advice is to talk to your partner about your temptations and be as open and honest about them as you can. I did this with my boyfriend, and we talked it out and worked through it. Be open and communicate and your partner will understand.
To conclude, long distance is hard. I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection on both you and your partners sides. You are the only two people who can make it work. Do not let anyone tell you it is not going to last, keep the people in your life that are rooting for you relationship to last. I believe in you, and I hope these insights help just a little bit.