How Doing Long-Distance Can Strengthen Your Relationship

Ask anyone their opinion about long-distance relationships in college. Odds are the person will shake their head and provide you with a cautionary tale about a parent, coworker, or friend. On the other hand, it's hard not to fawn over those heartwarming success stories that inspire high school sweethearts and long-distance daters alike across the nation and the world. 

My story is similar to these would-be Romeo and Juliets. Girl takes an AP Psychology course, a guy follows her on Instagram, and well, the rest is history. OK, maybe not so simple, but I’m sure it’s relatable on a ton of fronts, especially in terms of long-distance. Having hundreds of miles between you and your SO can be more than challenging. It can also highlight any of the obvious cracks in your relationship. The erosion of something you once held so dear can be enough to end a relationship. However, in my experience, I have found that identifying and addressing these issues can make a partnership even stronger. Doesn’t that sound rosy? Well, my situation had an added factor: imagine having a fraternity as the other woman in your relationship. 

Ill admit, the change from my SO rushing a fraternity wasn’t that drastic, but it did bring up some important points that rang true in the context of our long-distance relationship. What’s the one thing that a relationship cannot survive without? I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “t” and ends with “rust.” That’s right, trust — in my humble, yet experienced opinion — is the single most crucial factor in any relationship, regardless of any circumstance. 

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Fraternities, by their very nature, can expose any insecurities or points of weakness either party may have about the relationship. For many, it can be the possibility of your SO expanding their social circle without you, or maybe even the large time commitment which can decrease their availability. For me, it was the question of how I felt regarding my significant other having new experiences while I was so far away. How would that change our relationship?

And it did change, but largely for the better. Instead of getting angry at my partner for having less time for phone calls, we were able to have an open and honest dialogue about how much time we wanted to designate for this essential communication. As a result of this conversation, we were able to get at what we both really wanted: a designated time each week when we could focus on our relationship.

Additionally, our respect for each other grew as a whole. One of the most meaningful things in a relationship is coming to the realization that it can be hard, if not impossible, to understand a person in their entirety. In my relationship, each of us had different values and ways that we chose to spend our time. It was crucial to the survival of our partnership that we learned to respect each other's time. I would say that many of the things that changed in my relationship were for the better. I feel that we emerged out of it with an even greater sense of communication, respect, and trust. Now I’d like to impart some of my wisdom on you by sharing some of the lessons I learned.

Related: How to Bring the Butterflies Back After Doing Long-Distance

It’s OK not to talk all the time

In the age of social media, it can be so easy to expect to communicate with people all day, and I’m not going to argue against the fact that this is largely a plus. I will say that in my opinion, constant talking can actually take away from relationships. It can be hard to regale everyone with every detail of your life 24/7, so save yourself some trouble and find comfort in reduced, non-essential communication.

But still designate time to talk to each other

That being said, it is important to find time to talk about the things that matter, and guess what? You and your SO get to decide exactly what those important things are. For me, designating an hour or two each week to talk on the phone was enough, but there are also so many great virtual dates you can go on as well. And, the best part is this is time you can take out of your week to discuss anything! I found it helpful to go over what I thought were some of the most important events of my week. I would recommend picking a designated time each week to ensure that this essential communication is still happening

Original Illustration Created in Canva for Her Campus Media

Be prepared to have those hard and uncomfy conversations

Alright, this is the moment of truth, the move that separates you and your partner from all unsuccessful relationships: having the conversations that no one wants to have. For me, it meant airing the insecurities I had harbored since college about our relationship. Doesn’t sound fun, right? Well, it wasn’t, but I couldn’t be more glad that I did it. Being able to have these conversations as a couple is so important not only because it can avoid future fights, but I have also found that vulnerability can provide some much-needed closure in a relationship, leaving you and your SO in a better place than where you started. 

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Long-distance relationships in college aren’t easy, and both you and your partner may find yourselves trying to juggle classes, clubs, and yes, Greek life, in addition to making time for each other. So, what do you do in these situations? Frankly, dealing with this combination may not be easy, but if done right, your relationship may become even stronger than when you first moved away from each other.