My boyfriend and I just celebrated our two-year anniversary. I was sitting in my dorm bed, got a facetime call, spent two hours laughing and smiling till my face hurt, and then hung up. Sitting in the aftermath of the conversation, I felt completely happy, but it got me thinking, how can some couples be so successful at long-distance relationships while others break up almost immediately? Personally, I believe that long-distance relationships are very much worth it if you know that you want to be with your partner. However, there are certain things that can keep your relationship going strong despite the distance between you.
Have A Strong Foundation
The reason that my relationship with my boyfriend works so well is because we dated for a year in person before going to college. This allowed us to become comfortable with each other as people before transitioning to only seeing each other on a screen. It also allowed us to spend quality time together to grow a relationship that can be maintained through long-distance. It’s important for you and your partner to create this foundation to make the distance seem smaller when you’re apart.
***Disclaimer: Although I think it’s helpful to start your relationship in person, a foundation can be built online as well. If you’re starting your relationship long-distance, I recommend talking more frequently at the beginning to really get to know each other and visit each other often in the first couple of weeks.
Be Open About Expectations
Before my boyfriend and I went to college, we sat down and talked about our expectations. How many times a week would we talk on the phone? How often would we visit each other? These questions were essential in maintaining a balance between living our own lives while also including each other in our lives. For us, it’s best that we text occasionally throughout the day with updates like “I did well on my test” or “getting food with friends soon” so that the other person knows what’s going on that day. We also like to talk on the phone about 5 days a week, usually to talk about our days before bed. This is just what works best for our relationship and setting these expectations at the beginning of the semester avoids small arguments or misunderstandings about how we communicate.
Make Time For Each Other
Going hand in hand with expectations, really following through with your commitment to each other, and planning your schedule is very important. If I know that when I’m talking to my boyfriend before bed, I make sure my homework is done before the phone call so I can give him my full attention while we talk. Following through with the expectations about communication is so essential since you’ve already talked about how to best maintain your relationship. One way to make sure that your partner feels valued is to ask them what times they can talk and really make it a point to ask them how they’re feeling throughout the whole long-distance part of the relationship.
In addition to making time for each other during the week, make sure you have plans to visit them throughout the semester. My boyfriend and I like to visit each other about every three weeks because the first semester we were apart we tried to see each other twice during the semester, and realized that we wanted to see each other more than that. By visiting each other frequently, you’re reinforcing that original foundation that you built. I know that in visiting my boyfriend, I felt more connected to his college life because I was able to meet his friends and see the campus that I hear him talk about. By putting a face and picture to the name, I can better visualize his life when he tells me about his day and I feel like I’m more a part of that part of his life.
Have Your Own Lives
It’s so important in any relationship that both members have their own friends, interests, and hobbies. It allows each person to have outside connections and support that makes them a more well-rounded individual. It’s good to have different interests so you can introduce your partner to them and also have your own hobbies that are independent of your relationship. So many people get lost in their relationships and do everything with their partners, so it’s nice to have the separation. This is easier in a long-distance relationship because you’re already physically apart and can make your own friends on campus. Make sure you’re joining clubs that interest you and making friends that you like so that you can grow as a person and be happy with yourself. This will make the relationship better because you will be bringing positive energy and happiness.
***Disclaimer: With this, many people can become jealous of their partner’s new friends or hobbies and tell them to not hang out with new friends or participate in certain groups. This behavior is not healthy and should be avoided at all costs, and if it persists may be a sign that long-distance isn’t right for your relationship. As someone’s partner, you should be happy for all of their new friendships and activities as they’re making your partner a happier and better version of themselves.
Trust Each Other
With supporting each other’s lives, you have to trust your partner while they’re away. They are in a relationship with you for a reason, and that’s because they very much like you and want to be dating you. I know that jealousy can come up so easily in college, believe me, I’ve felt it, but you have to trust that your partner wants you (because you’re awesome!!) and that if they didn’t, you wouldn’t be dating.
Have An End Goal
I’ve found it helpful that my boyfriend and I are dating for marriage, so we have a goal in mind on where we want our relationship to go. This is reassuring to me because whenever I’m having a bad day or if we ever get into an argument, I remind myself that we have a shared hope of where we want our relationship to go after college. This is also helpful because I know many people are unsure of their jobs/future education after their 2 or 4-year institution, and can be nervous about how those plans will affect their relationship. The fact that my boyfriend and I want to get married at some point after college helps me to remember that we will figure out the future together in a way that’s beneficial to both of us. Having a goal in mind of where you want your relationship to end up can have some mental benefits that will ease some anxiety and help you both persevere through any difficult times.
Recognize That Long-Distance Isn’t For Everyone
All this being said, long-distance relationships aren’t for everyone. Some people need to see the person they’re dating every day and that’s completely valid. You should only do long-distance if you truly want to and if it brings you happiness. Long-distance relationships are work and they can be difficult, so it’s essential that you really want to be with that person and are willing to put in the time and effort to make it work. And, if you start long distance and realize that it’s not making you feel happy or you no longer feel close to your partner, it’s absolutely ok to change your mind and admit that you don’t want to continue the relationship!
Long-distance relationships are a lot of work and communication, but when they’re with the right person, they are so special. My boyfriend and I spent our first year together in person and our second year mostly long-distance, and despite that, I fall more and more in love with him each day. When you find your person and talk about what you want in your relationship, it can bring so much happiness and fulfillment to your life.