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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Long Distance Relationship

The school year is coming to a close and with final exams wrapping up, there’s a chance you finally found time to meet the guy of your dreams. He’s smart and funny, not to mention a total stud. There’s only one problem standing in the way of your newfound summer love and it’s a matter of miles. Maybe you’re a New England sweetheart and he’s a California surfer dude; maybe he’s a debonair European and you’re heading back to the states after a semester of studying abroad. Either way, you’re now weighing the possibility of doing a long distance relationship for at least the duration of the summer. While the summer seems short-lived, it’s hard to imagine not being able to call your boy up and suggest an impromptu round of drinks at the downtown bar whenever you want. Long distance relationships, no matter the time (and miles) spent apart, are challenging. We consulted Love Stylist Tristan Coopersmith on LDRs.

“LDRs are rigorous relationships,” Coopersmith says. “They take unique investments such as giving up that Friday night frat party in lieu of a Skype date. So you need to ask yourself, what’s it all for? How serious is this relationship? Where does it fit when you think about your future?”

With the advice from our expert and college girls across the country, we’ve listed five questions to ask yourself when you’re deciding whether going long distance is the answer.

How long will the separation last?

Distance is a strain, even on the strongest of relationships. If you’ve gone from spending every weekend with your boyfriend to only seeing each other once a month or so, you’re going to get lonely. Therefore, you should have an idea of how long you’re going to be apart from each other and what the end date will be if there is one. Mara, a senior at UCLA says that having an end date in mind made things easier in her long distance relationship. “I knew I could last a few months without [seeing] him, but having a timeline was motivating to get me through it.”

How busy will you be this summer?

Chances are you’ll be busy this summer. Even though I’m sure most of us would love to spend the summer days ahead lounging in a pool-side beach chair sipping cocktails, you’ll more likely be volunteering to help kids in Ghana or riding the subway in New York City for your internship. No matter what plans you’ve made, you should take your schedule (both yours and his) into consideration when deciding whether to commit to a long distance relationship.

How often will you be able to talk to him and will you get to see each other in person at all?

If you haven’t already, sit down and talk about a schedule. Consider these things: How will you travel? How frequently can you make the trip? Do you have the time off from work, internships, or other responsibilities to visit? Will you alternate visits? Can you even afford to visit each other? Will you split travel costs? And even if bus-hopping and jet-setting aren’t in your summer budget, you’ll still need to find the time to keep in touch. Do you want to text, call, Skype, instant message? Are you someone who wants to talk every day or is once a week best? You can always make changes, of course, but having an idea of how you’re going to keep in touch before you separate will save you a lot of headaches (and goodnight-calls-turned-into-fights) down the road.

Will you be exclusive or not exclusive?

If you haven’t had that “talk” already, you’ll need to decide if you and your boyfriend will be exclusive or if you’ll be OK with him dating other girls while you’re apart. There are no rules, and what works for one couple might not work for others, but you and your partner need to be able to agree on what you’re allowed to do. Amanda, a junior from Emerson College says that choosing to have an open relationship with her boyfriend during their time apart made an LDR more manageable. “When you’re in a long distance relationship, you’re committing to someone without any of the benefits of being together,” she says. “We weren’t super serious, so we decided together that being able to date other people was the best decision for us.”


Do you trust him?

It takes a lot of trust to make things work in a relationship, let alone one that stretches across state lines. If you’re going to be monogamous, probably the most important question you can ask yourself when deciding to go long distance or not is a simple matter of trust. Do you trust him? Does he trust you? No relationship (at any distance) is going to last if you’re constantly worrying about whether he’s being faithful or not as our expert agrees: “With great distance can come great doubt so you must be sure that the trust meter in your relationship (and within yourself!) is sky high,” Coopersmith says. “Maintaining trust in an LDR is imminent as well. Making sure to show up on time for Skype calls, visiting when you say you will and meeting other stated expectations is crucial in maintaining trust.”

Andrea, a sophomore from UConn, says that a lack of trust in her LDR during her semester abroad made her miserable. “I wanted to trust him, but he was pretty flirty with girls at school, so I knew it was a possibility that he was going to be doing things behind my back that he wouldn’t have done if I wasn’t miles and miles away,” she says. “So as a result, I spent most of my time abroad worrying about him. If I had to do it over, I would definitely ask myself if he was trustworthy.”

These can be difficult and awkward questions to ask, but they’ll save you a lot of heartache (not to mention fights) later on.

“All relationships have spoken and unspoken rules, including LDRs. And these are critical to a relationship’s success,” Coopersmith says. “Once your ‘rules’ are established, ask yourself what you would do if one was broken? Say for example, he kissed another girl, took another girl to a formal because you couldn’t make it, etc, how would you feel? What would it mean? Role play your reaction and the likely consequences.”

It’s true in long distance relationships (just as it is in any relationship), that it’s important to have a shared understanding. Before you decide to jump headfirst into a LDR this summer, you should both be able to agree on dating parameters and defining your relationship (are you exclusive or non-exclusive?). Even if you decide in the end that a long distance relationship isn’t right for you, you should feel comfortable enough to say so to your guy.

Alexandra is a graduate from the University of New Hampshire and the current Assistant Digital Editor at Martha Stewart Living. As a journalism student, she worked as the Director of UNH’s Student Press Organization (SPO) and on staff for four student publications on her campus. In the summer of 2010, she studied abroad at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, in England, where she drank afternoon tea and rode the Tube (but sadly no, she did not meet Prince Harry). Since beginning her career, her written work has appeared in USA Today College, Huffington Post, Northshore, and MarthaStewart.com, among others. When not in the office, she can be found perusing travel magazines to plan her next trip, walking her two dogs (both named Rocky), or practicing ballet. Chat with her on Twitter @allie_churchill.