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How to Handle a Long Distance Relationship

Let’s look at the facts: a long-distance relationship is something you said you would never do, but somehow you managed to end up in one. Well, at least that was what it was like for me. I started dating someone the fall of my senior year of high school despite the reality that we were going to different colleges the following year. Now that we have both moved to our separate schools 12 hours apart, we have begun to figure out how to do long distance. Here are some of the things we have learned:

Have Something To Look Forward To

My girlfriend and I decided to start a TV show together before we left for school, and we watch one episode per week. The catch is that we are not allowed to watch it without one another. Having something to bond over every week helps us feel closer and spend time together like we would in person. If possible, planning a visit helps tremendously as well. It gives you something to look forward to and a goal to work towards.

Be Open and Open-Minded

The most important thing, and often the hardest, is clear communication. When you’re away from someone you are used to spending time with, you realize how much of your interactions with them depend on cues that get lost over texts, emails, letters, or video chat, and it can be hard to tell what the other person needs or wants from you. The simplest way to handle this is to just ask them. You cannot read each other’s minds, especially from afar. Being up front about how you feel, what you need, and what you want can be tough but it saves a lot of time and trouble when done in an open and positive way! Send each other letters, post cards, emails, texts, or quick Snapchats. Long distance couples don’t have the luxury of experiencing everything in the moment, and it can be difficult to make time with schoolwork and extracurriculars. Video chatting even for a few minutes can help maintain a long distance relationship. There are also other useful apps such as Couple, Voxer, Pinger, or Viber for bi-national couples.

Take It Day By Day

One of the most daunting aspects of going into a long distance relationship is the commitment that you feel like you are making. It’s true, long distance takes a lot of effort, and many people who are not serious about each other decide to forgo the stress and time it takes to manage a long distance relationship. However, being in a long distance does not have to mean that you have committed yourself to marriage or to spending the rest of your life with them. I have found that looking too far ahead makes me feel anxious, doubtful, and trapped, and those are not good things to feel about your relationship– especially since someone else’s feelings are involved. So remember, take it day by day. You don’t have to know if you want to be together forever. Do you want to be with them today or tomorrow? Do they make you laugh? Do they make you happy? Remembering things like this is often all you need to get through rough patches.

It’s not hopeless; long distance can work! It just takes time and effort, but when it works it has the potential to be a very rewarding and satisfying part of your life.

Catherine Fahl is a student at the College of William and Mary navigating long distance love, school, and friends with the help of lots of coffee, tea, and waffles.  
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