I know what you’re probably thinking: “Page, you shouldn’t be complaining, you are in a strong, loving relationship. Why are you even writing this?!” I’m not sure I have a great answer to that, because you’re right––I am with the love of my life and in all the movies and sitcoms, things should fall into place when this happens, right? Wrong. Way wrong. I’m in my third year of undergraduate studies at Winona State University and I have been in a committed relationship for around three years as well, and I’m sure that my S.O. would agree that maintaining mental, physical, and emotional stability has not been easy. It’s constant work, and sometimes it gets exhausting having so much on my plate, but that’s just the reality of true love. It’s not this unattainable, magical, love-at-first-sight feeling you get. You have to earn it, and you have to constantly keep contributing to the relationship in new ways in order to preserve what you have through the draining demands of college life. So here is a little bit about how I make it work for me; feel free to try any of these if you are looking to go long-distance with your S.O.
1. Don’t Underestimate the Power of A Quick Text
It is easy to get caught up in the research, the papers, making sure you’re on time for class, making notecards for exams, scheduling office-hour drop-ins, and the overall chaos of everyday school that you forget to communicate with your partner. It is also really easy, however, to send a quick, “I love you <3” or even just a “(:” to let them know you’re thinking of them even when you’re not there with them. Trust me, it helps to know that you’re not alone when the homework starts to pile up, or when you’re sitting in your dorm alone late at night (maybe crying and watching “New Girl” with a pint of Halo Top).
2. Schedule Your Weekends Wisely
Some weeks are too hard––multiple papers are assigned, you work every night, your room looks like a tornado ripped through, and you forgot about that Communication Studies midterm. These are the weeks that I call my boyfriend and tell him that I want to visit. He lives 230 miles away from my campus right now, so driving isn’t that big of a deal, but scheduling it beforehand always helps. A lot of times, his presence alone is enough to make me feel comforted, which helps me get the motivation I need to start digging through research or start writing that creative, non-fiction draft I’d been putting off. We make time to do fun things, too. We find joy, however, in just sitting together in the quiet library working in each other’s company with the promise that this phase in our lives will be over soon Its light at the end of the tunnel.
3. Google Meets Saves Lives
Sometimes we get too busy to even talk about our days with each other. Life happens, and it’s hard to break your brain out of work-mode when you’re already in deep. That’s when we realized how AMAZING video chatting can be. I’ll be doing my homework in Winona, and he will do his 230 miles away, but it’s like we are together…just through a screen. We sit in silence, both of us understanding that this is not ideal, but it is helping us feel less overwhelmed with loneliness.
4. Write About It
I know, I know. I’m a writer––it’s what I do all the time, constantly. But even my boyfriend––a very type-A pre-med student––does this sometimes. It can be so helpful to sit down with a journal and hand write some of your worries, hopes, desires, needs, or joys down on the page. This helps me visualize what I’m feeling so I don’t get so stuck in my head about it. Keeping a journal has infinite benefits, but this can help show your progress as a person, and as an acting part of your relationship. You’ll look back later at what you wrote during these hard times and laugh, but it’s all part of the process.
5. Know About Their Education
I would say that this may be the most important piece of advice I can give you. If you want to stay connected through the long distance, you need to insert yourself into their “school life.” Ask them what their course schedule is! Figure out what classes they love and which ones they hate. Is there a professor they have that really irritates them? What are their friends like; do you know their names? By keeping these little details in conversation, you’re making sure that their focus is still on school, but also letting them know that they have your unconditional support.
A lot of these things seem really simple, but their effect is productive and extremely beneficial. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that if you want to maintain a relationship while at separate colleges, you need to communicate openly and honestly. Set the groundwork for a successful long-distance relationship before you are separated; discuss if it is something you both want and how you are going to make it work.
Hug them tight every time you see them, talk to them when you can, and know that college isn’t forever. You can get through this if you believe you can. Love isn’t something that can be placed on the back burner to slow-cook while you go study for four years, and friendship can’t be ignored. True love always bridges the distance. When you miss them late at night or while you’re walking to your 8:00 a.m lecture, remember this quote by Margaret Atwood: “I exist in two places, here, and where you are.” True love always bridges the gap between