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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

I Survived a Year of Long-Distance: Here’s What I Learned

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

As my first year at UCLA is coming to a close (what?!), I have lots of accomplishments to look back on proudly. Final exams, club projects, and GPA are great and all, but my proudest achievement is without a doubt surviving (almost) a full year of a long-distance relationship.

Long-distance is no joke. It’s tough, and it takes a strong relationship to survive so much time apart. But it was without a doubt the right decision for my girlfriend and I, and I would do it again a million times over. So, if you’re considering going long-distance next year, here are all of the things that I learned and I think you should know:

You have to adapt to other love languages

I’m a physical touch girly, and when you’re in a long-distance relationship, it’s almost impossible to show love that way. In a similar vein, quality time is harder to access since your relationship seems so distant. When this is the case, you have to adapt to other love languages.

This can be hard if you haven’t practiced showing or receiving love in other forms. If you aren’t used to this kind of effort, you or your partner may not be getting the love that is needed. After all, you’re having to show love more often in a form that you might not be used to, or might not be as meaningful to your partner. When you enter a long-distance relationship, it’s very important that you practice showing love often in all forms, not just the ones that you’re comfortable with.

Phone calls aren’t the same as video calls

My girlfriend has an Android (shame on her), which means Facetime isn’t easily accessible. We made the mistake early on of defaulting to phone calls since that was easier for us. But I can’t emphasize how different phone and video are. Hearing your partner’s voice isn’t always enough. Seeing them face-to-face offers so much more connection than just hearing them, even if you aren’t in person.

There’s lots to do virtually

I couldn’t believe how many activities there are you can do without being physically present. The COVID-19 quarantine gave us one good thing, at least, and that is the widespread ability to hang out with someone without being physically present with one another. 

There are a number of cooperative video games (my girlfriend and I’s favorite is Stardew Valley) that you can play long-distance, and programs like Teleparty for watching movies, TV shows, and YouTube while you’re apart. Long-distance doesn’t have to be just talking on the phone. Spice it up with some activities.

You need a life outside of your relationship

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This is one that I struggle with and am still trying to improve on. You’d think that while you’re long-distance, it’d be easier to have a life outside of your relationship. And while that may be true for some people, for me, being long-distance gives me an excuse to stay in my dorm talking to my girlfriend all day. 

Because so many of your conversations rely on talking about your lives, it’s important to have a life outside of your relationship. Whether you have a vibrant social life or not, it’s important to have hobbies and activities that don’t surround your partner. Read a book, play a game, or watch a show by yourself. Then you can have the fun activity of trying to describe the first season of Game of Thrones to your partner like I did.

Long-distance isn’t for everyone. In fact, I know only a few relationships that are benefited by the experience. It requires dedication, commitment, and a relationship that doesn’t rely on physical affection or exciting activities. But for the right people, a long-distance relationship can make your bond even stronger. It can be challenging, but you’ll gain useful skills in order to survive other difficult ordeals. So good luck my long-distance girlies, and enjoy your summer with your love!

Jessica is a first year English major at UCLA. She loves both reading and writing, having even published her debut novel "The World Above the Waves" in 2022. When she isn't delving into literature, you can find her playing d&d, listening to music, or wherever either her twin sister or girlfriend are. She's so excited to be a part of the Her Campus team.