If you’re in a long distance relationship right now, or even considering it, you’ve probably read countless articles on how to get through it. You’ve probably heard the phrases “Have Skype dates!”, “Stay in touch!”, and “Be strong!” more than a dozen times, and let’s be real, when all the articles and advice columns say the exact same thing, you start to wonder, do any of these people actually know what they’re talking about? If you’re tired of reading impersonal sentiments from people who don’t understand your situation, fear not, because here’s how to survive a long distance relationship – written by someone who’s actually done it.
Halfway through my senior year of high school, I started dating my best friend, Zach. Our relationship came so naturally that I was head over heels immediately, and we both knew that we wanted to commit to this for the long run. Unfortunately, there was a constant elephant in the room, and that was the fact that he was a year younger than me, and at the end of the year, I would inevitably go to college and leave him to complete his senior year of high school alone. My closest option was two hours away, and the farthest was across the country, and guess which one I chose? After making the decision to attend a university over 1,000 miles away, we discussed our options, and after several tearful conversations, we decided to do long distance. When we told our friends, the reaction was surprisingly negative, even from the biggest supporters of our relationship. I was constantly asked, “Don’t you want to avoid being tied down in college?” Despite this, we stuck with our choice, which brings up the first point – don’t let the doubt go to your head. People will say you’re making a mistake, but if you’re confident, ignore them. Only you know your relationship.
With that being said, make sure your partner is on board. Long distance relationships are hard work, and if one of you is less enthusiastic about it than the other, it won’t work out. Talk openly about what you both expect from it – how often you’ll visit, when you’ll be able to talk on the phone or Skype, and what you can do to make it easier on each other. However, it’s worth noting that no matter what you do, you will argue. It’s not a negative reflection on your relationship, but settling into a new dynamic that allows for limited communication and almost no physical contact will be stressful no matter what. Do what you can to fix the issues that come up – for example, at first, my boyfriend and I bickered because I would stay out late with friends and not have time to call and say goodnight. To solve this, I started calling him before I went out, so he wouldn’t have to wait up for me. Finding solutions to the little problems that come up prevent them from ballooning into larger issues later on.
As time goes on, its important to understand that you will get lonely. But don’t let your loneliness drive you to make decisions you will regret. It’s easy to allow the physical distance to translate into emotional distance, but remember why your partner is worth the wait. Temporary distractions may alleviate the pain of missing them, but they’ll only end up hurting you both when the emotional low passes. And when you’re doing well, celebrate it! Send your partner love letter, care packages, or little gifts – anything that says “I’m thinking about you.” Time passes slowly when you’re missing your significant other, so do whatever you can to make it a little easier.
Of course, if you’re fighting more than you can handle, or if the stress gets to be too much, know when you need to call it quits. It may be painful, but don’t let a relationship that isn’t succeeding hold you back from having fun on your own. If you’re constantly considering your other options, or regretting the commitment you made, do yourself and your partner a favor and make the mature decision to let them go.
Long distance is not easy, but understanding and expecting the difficulties that will come your way is essential to your relationship’s success. It takes bravery and confidence to embark on such an unconventional journey, so be proud of yourself for the choice you made no matter the results. The phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is incredibly accurate, so make sure to savor the time you have with each other. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and remember – it may be hard, but it’ll make a touching story when you reunite. I transferred here at the beginning of the year after Zach made the decision to attend the U, and we’re now two years strong and planning to get engaged. Take it from me – long distance is worth it when you’re truly in love.