Whether you’re still with your childhood sweetheart or starting something new your freshman year, a relationship in college is a whole new ball game. You may be lucky enough to have your SO just a few steps down the hall – or a quick run across campus – for a large part of the year, or you may be pining after your SO from across the country. Either way, you’re about to become no stranger to what’s arguably the worst part of college relationships: distance. Here are five ways you can prepare for the transition to a long distance relationship with your SO, whether you’re both about to depart to different campuses for the better part of the next four years, or you’re stressing out about your first holiday break apart.
1. Communicate Beforehand
Communication is key in any relationship, but absolutely critical in long distance relationships. Prior to your separation, talk to your partner about what the distance will mean for the relationship. Some couples may choose to forge an open relationship for the summer months, while others might devise plans to remain closer than ever.
Carsen Zink, a sophomore at the University of Florida, plans to FaceTime with her boyfriend a lot, for example. It’s the closest thing to face-to-face communication, and while they know it’ll be hard to match up with each other’s schedules, they’re confident about the time apart. “[We plan to] FaceTime a lot — at least a few times a week,” Carsen says, “[and between that and texting, we’ll be able to] make three months apart work.”
Understanding that both of you are on the same page about what the time apart will look like will make the break a lot easier. Knowing that your partner is fully set on making the relationship work will help to curb your anxieties about the relationship failing, or your partner losing interest.
2. Control Your Jealousy
Being apart for such a long time can be worrisome, so it’s important to trust your partner. That means not going off the deep end every time their platonic female friend pops up on their Snapchat story! Remember that it won’t be like it is when you’re together; you’re not going to every social gathering together, where you don’t have to stress out about what your SO is doing.
For the time they’re partying and socializing without you, it’s understandable that you might feel jealous. However, constantly picking fights over these worries will cause problems in the relationship.
Allan Smith*, a junior at the University of Florida, places the blame for the termination of his last relationship on the constant fights he and his girlfriend had over the summer they were apart. “She was constantly getting mad when I went out with my friends, even though she was hundreds of miles away from me,” he says. “Of course I missed her, too, but what was I supposed to do? Sit at home alone all summer? All of the fighting made me realize that we would never work long-term.”
If you really love and care for your partner, you should be able to trust them and avoid this mistake. If you find yourself unable to trust them, maybe it’s a good way to realize that the relationship just isn’t going to work.
3. Stay Busy, & Have Your Own Life
The time apart is going to be torture if all you do is sit around and think about your SO and what they’re doing. When you’re in a relationship at all it’s important to remain independent, and when you add distance it just reinforces that.
Sophia Kremp*, a junior at Florida State University, did whatever she could to keep herself busy when she was apart from her SO. “To avoid constantly thinking about my boyfriend, I made sure to fill up my schedule,” she says.
Of course you’ll still think about them – it’s okay to miss them! – but at least you’ll still be doing things that you enjoy, and remembering that you don’t need them in order to have a good time.
4. Get Creative
Nightly phone calls and habitual good morning texts are great and all, but if you’re going to make it several months without seeing each other, you’re going to have to go a little further to remind your partner of how much you care for them.
“I would send my girlfriend a care package every month, and fill it with things she loved to remind her of how much I care about her,” says Brandon Johnson*, a sophomore at the University of Florida.
Madison Ray, a freshman at the University of Florida, would also do little things to remind her girlfriend how much she loves her when they each left campus to go home. “[I’d] make my girlfriend my #WomanCrushWednesday, and give her a public shoutout about how much I missed her,” she says.
Going the extra mile for your partner is a great way to make sure they don’t have any worries about how you feel about them. Reminding them of how much you love them, even from miles away, is a good way to keep the spark alive in the relationship.
5. Plan Ahead
Before going into periods of long distance, it’s important to plan. Just like you planned ahead when lining up your seasonal jobs or summer internships, and planned which bikinis you’ll be wearing at the beach or outfits you’ll be wearing to the bar, you need to plan for your relationship.
If you and your partner live only a few hours away, plan ahead for times that you can visit each other for a few days, or even just a few hours. If you live a little farther and have the means to do so, plan a time that you or your partner can fly to see each other, or meet somewhere in the middle. Like Carsen, plan for FaceTime dates, or times to watch episodes of your favorite show together over text.
Making the effort to spend time with your partner, even when you’re separated by so many miles, will really show how serious you are about the relationship. Even better, you’ll make some pretty amazing memories.
Long distance can be hard, and it’ll certainly test your relationship, but if you want it to work, it will. Once you and your partner can reconnect, your relationship will be stronger than ever – and you’ll be happy that you made it through.
*names have been changed