3 Conversations to Have With Your SO Before Starting a LDR

Graduating from high school and going to college is arguably one of the biggest changes you go through as a young adult. You pack up and leave behind friends, family, and boyfriends/girlfriends to go to a whole new place. Some people go far, some stay closer to home, but there’s no questioning that going from seeing friends and family every single day to hardly seeing them is tough. It’s different.

My junior year of high school, I began dating a boy who quickly became my best friend: Zakary. He was a year older than me so I only had one year with him before he went off to college. The year went by quickly, and soon enough, I was hugging him goodbye, knowing that I would only be seeing him on weekends. It was hard, no doubt, but I still made the most of my senior year with my friends. Then came my time to head off to college. I spent my first year at college with Zak at Michigan’s Dearborn campus before transferring to the Ann Arbor campus. I’m now well over halfway into my second year of college, first year here, and I still have never been happier to be dating my best friend. 

When you make the transition to college while dating, a lot of things start changing. I’ve always read articles and heard people say that it’s best to “just break up” so you can find yourself without being “tied down”. I’ve always found this troubling. People will ask, “well don’t you worry if he/she is going to cheat?” You can even validate those fears by reading Collegefession tweets about people confessing their unfaithfulness for the sake of comic relief. All of these stigmas circling around carrying on a relationship beyond high school are often times enough to end a relationship without anything problematic actually happening in the relationship. I want to help you turn away from those negative stigmas and decide based on your own personal relationship, not what others say might happen. Here are three things to talk about with your significant other before deciding if you want to enter into a long distance relationship:

1. Love

If you two haven’t said (and genuinely meant) “I love you”, the college commitment might seem like a little too much. It’s important to discuss how you feel about each other. Is there a future? You don’t have to commit to marriage, but if you can’t see much for yourselves in the future, it should be a red flag.

2. Distance

How far apart will you be from each other? An hour or two? 2,000 miles? Converting a relationship to long distance comes with some stress and emotional response. Will you be able to see each other every couple weeks or will it be longer, and most importantly, are you OK with that time frame? I will say that you can survive longer apart than you first think you can. Discuss with your partner what you are both comfortable with and how you will do things to make up for distance like phone calls and Skype dates. 

3. Growing Up

Growing up is stressful. Classes get harder each semester and the pressure of finding a job in the real world seems to grow quickly. Is your partner someone you feel comfortable talking about this with? You’re going to fail exams and not get the internships you want. Can you support your significant other when they’re dealing with these things and will they do the same for you? Will you be working during the school year/summers? Talk about how to work around your busy weeks and weekends juggling school and work to make time for each other.

I want to tell you that it’s okay to date someone past high school. It’s also okay to be single. What’s not okay is saying goodbye to someone you care about because you’ve heard that long distance relationships don’t work or that you can’t make time for yourself and love someone else too. If you truly do love someone, I promise you that it’s possible to date them in college. 

On the other hand, if you’re unsure that you’ll be able to handle a college relationship because you don’t know how you feel about your significant other, I can tell you that you absolutely have to want it. You do have to be prepared to spend time apart when all you want is to be together. You do have to be prepared to stay up with the other person when they need to talk, regardless of if you have an 8 a.m. exam the next day. You do have to be prepared for it to suck sometimes. But I can promise you that the risk is worth the reward if you care deeply for the other person. You very well may find the person you're going to marry in the years including and following shortly after high school. It may be your high school love or it may be a new love you meet in college. Regardless of who it may be, follow your heart and remember that all of the “relationship goals” and other things about relationships you read online are far too general to always apply to someone as unique and individual as you. Don’t be fooled!

As for me, I’m lucky enough to have gone through these difficult yet wonderful last three and a half years of growing and changing with my best friend by my side. I love you, Zakary!