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Sex + Relationships

How to Make a Long-Distance Relationship Work Over the Summer

As someone who is about to be in a long-distance relationship full-time, rather than just during the academic year, I know how tough long-distance relationships can be for a couple. Between the lack of time together in person, the endless electronic forms of communication, the travel, etc., it can leave you wondering, ‘Is this even worth it?’ Well let me tell you, it is if you want it to be! To allay your fears, I will outline what to expect from your long-distance relationship, and how to make it work. Keep your chins up, collegiettes!
 
MAKING IT WORK…

According to my poll of the Her Campus staff, nearly 87% of collegiettes have been in a long-distance relationship, so you are not alone! I have broken down the summer scenarios (study abroad, going home, staying at school, internship) into what to expect and the best tips on how to make it work for your situation. However, most of the tips and tricks will work for any type of LDR so make sure to read them all!
 
Studying Abroad
 
According to my poll, 21.4% of couples were long-distance due to studying abroad. “My boyfriend is headed to Spain this summer,” says Katrina, a student at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. “I’m nervous about staying connected when we are so far apart physically.” If you or your boyfriend is studying abroad this summer, be prepared for electronic communication, insecurity due to the irregular communication, exciting stories to share with each other, and jealousy about the adventures he is experiencing without you.
 
“I imagine studying abroad would cause most couples to sweat it out, especially the partner who has to stay behind,” says Sylvia Shipp, long-distance relationship expert, author of The Long Distance Relationship Guidebook. “For this kind of LDR to work well, the person leaving would have to find ways to weave his/her partner into the new adventure so that it resembles an adventure a couple who were physically together would take.”
 
To make your relationship work while one of you is studying abroad, you can:

1. Make a Video
Unlike during the academic year, you cannot text or call each other randomly throughout the day. Instead, make a special video for your boyfriend so he can watch it whenever he misses you. You can create the video on your laptop and email it to him, create the video on Facebook and send it through a private message, or create a video and post it on YouTube (send him the link, of course!). “It can include areas of your life that are important and you wish to share, a tribute to your love, a song that has special meaning, a recording of your favorite spot where you last spent time together – it is unlimited what you can do,” says Stephen Blake, long-distance relationship expert, best-selling author of Long Distance Relationship Series. “The message is clear that you are taking the time and making an effort to make your time apart special and communicating in ways that touch the heart of your sweetheart from afar.”
 
2. Count the Weekends
While it may be tempting to have a day-by-day countdown until you next see each other, it can actually make the time seem longer, instead of shorter. “Count down how many weekends you have left before you see each other, rather than how many days,” says Dylan, a student at the College of William & Mary. “Counting the weekends you have left makes the time seem shorter.” Share the number with your boyfriend so each of you has a time frame to reference when you are missing each other.
 

Staying at School
 
When one of you stays at school over the summer, there will be a readjustment period as each of you gets used to the idea that you are no longer within ‘arm’s reach’, especially since campus will serve as a constant reminder of things the two of you share. “I’m staying at school this summer,” says Liz, a student at the University of Missouri. “My boyfriend will be at home, and I think he resents me a little for not returning home to him this summer.” If you or your boyfriend is staying at school this summer, be prepared for a readjustment period, high phone bills, feeling ‘out of the loop’ about campus events, and jealousy about spending time with school friends without you.
 
To make your relationship work while one of you is staying at school for the summer, you can:

1. Set Up a Nightly Phone Date
Since your schedules will probably vary from day-to-day, text each other in the morning to set up a time to talk that night. In this way, you can keep each other up-to-date on your lives, without a need for constant communication. “Having a nightly phone date was huge,” says Kelsey, a student at Emerson College. “It was a nice routine to get into while we were apart.”
 
2. Send Presents
While you do not need to send a huge present every week, even a small gift such as a pack of his favorite candy, or a mix CD will bring you closer together. “One of my best strategies for a successful long-distance relationship is to share tokens of love,” says Blake. “Use written notes, verbal praise, or gifts to express how wonderful your relationship is!” The small acts of appreciation will prove to your boyfriend how much you care about him and the relationship.
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Going Home

According to my poll, nearly 22% of couples were long-distance because of one person going home for the summer. If you are headed home this summer, your boyfriend is headed home, or you both are (to separate cities), then lucky you! This situation is probably the easiest to overcome. Since going home for the summer is somewhat expected of college students, neither of you will feel like you are sacrificing a part of your relationship for a new experience. If one of you is headed home this summer, or you both are, be prepared for meeting each other’s families, electronic communication, potential jealousy (exes, old friends, etc. may be home, too), and competing for time (he will want to reconnect with his home life).
 
To make your relationship work when one of you is headed home for the summer, you must:

1. Look Forward
Since my boyfriend and I only have weekends and holidays to look forward to spending together, I like to send him links to websites of things we will do together when we are in person. For example, I will be in New York this summer, and I know he is going to visit at least once. So I recently sent him a link to Serendipity’s website, and now he is looking forward to their frozen hot chocolate just as much as I am! “You will find that you, too, will thrive in this creative playful state,” says Shipp. “You transcend the ordinary in your search for new ways to express your love.”
 
2. Visit
If at all possible, plan a time to visit your boyfriend while he is at home (for ways to save while traveling, check out my past article: How to Save Money in Relationships). Not only will the time go faster if you have a set date to look forward to, you have the chance to truly connect when you visit his hometown. Make sure to meet his family, friends, and to spend time exploring where he grew up. Plan to split the cost of the trip or to meet halfway in order to make it easier on yourselves. “My girlfriend is going home for the summer, and so am I,” says Jeremy, a student at Indiana Wesleyan University. “I already have plans to visit her in June, and her family is really looking forward to meeting me.”


Internship
 
According to my poll, nearly 29% of couples were long-distance because of an internship in a different city for the summer. “You may want to experience certain things in life, travel or career, before making a commitment,” says Blake. “In this way, you may view a long-distance relationship as one of those ‘experiences’ in life.” If you or your boyfriend is spending the summer as an intern, be prepared for tight scheduling, electronic communication, an element of the unknown (new city, new friends, new job), and insecurity due to the unknown.
 
In order to make a LDR work while one of you is in a new city for an internship, you can:
 
1. Make a Movie Date
Thanks to the distance, it may seem counterintuitive to schedule a movie date – no, thank you, I do not want to see a movie alone and then discuss it with my boyfriend later. Thanks to Skype, you do not have to! “Skype has been a Godsend,” says Ashley, a student at the University of Missouri. “We like to watch movies ‘together’ via Netflix Instant –we share an account.” Since you will likely be tired after a long day of work, watching a movie together can be a great way to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
 
2. Spice It Up
Since you will likely be busy the majority of the day with work, and exhausted once you are home, it can be tough to keep the sex appeal alive. “One of my favorite tricks is to take a picture of yourself while you are getting ready in the morning, then send it to him during your lunch break,” says Dana, a student at Northwestern University. “The image of you in a bra and pencil skirt will have him imagining boss and naughty secretary scenarios all day long!” If pictures are not your thing, text him sometime during the day with an innuendo-filled message. Even something as tame as, “I wish you were here to distract me…” can throw a boy’s imagination into overdrive, especially one who has not seen his girlfriend in awhile!

POTENTIAL PROBLEMS AND HOW TO SOLVE THEM
 
I consulted two of the top LDR experts in the country to give you one-sentence solutions to your most common LDR problems.

  • He is Giving Me Unwanted Space: “The best advice I usually give couples in both situations is to communicate intentions and feelings openly when either person notices the change in perceived space,” says Blake.
  • A Pretty Girl Keeps Posting on his Facebook, and I Do Not Know Her: “To ensure its success, both partners must be open, trusting, and willing to show their feelings for the other without having the security of the usual available clues that point to loyalty,” says Shipp.
  • I Feel Like We Are Growing Apart: “Set aside time to reflect on why you love your partner, and envision the day you will be together – come together and discuss your feelings with one another,” says Blake. 

If you need more advice, Sylvia Shipp’s book, The Long Distance Relationship Guidebook is available to purchase on Amazon.com. Stephen Blake’s Long Distance Relationship Series are available at a bookstore near you. You can also visit his website or Facebook page for more information.
 
No matter what, remember to do what works best for you as a couple. What worked for your friend while her boyfriend studied abroad may not work for you. Trust your instincts – it is up to you to make your relationship work and only you know how to do it best.
 

Sources:
College students from across the country
Stephen Blake, long-distance relationship expert, best-selling author of Long Distance Relationship Series, including Loving Your Long Distance Relationship; Loving Your Long Distance Relationship for Women; and Still Loving Your Long Distance Relationship
Sylvia Shipp, long-distance relationship expert, author of The Long Distance Relationship Guidebook

Allie Duncan is a senior, class of 2013, in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She is specializing in Strategic Communication within the Journalism department, while also pursuing a Textile and Apparel Management minor. In addition to writing for Her Campus, Allie is a member of Kappa Delta sorority - Epsilon Iota chapter, the Publicity Director for Her Campus Mizzou, a Campus Representative/Intern for Akira Chicago, a Contributing Writer for Chicago-Scene magazine and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. She spent the 2012 summer as an intern at Tory Burch, and the 2011 summer as an intern at Vogue magazine. A Chicago native, Allie enjoys shopping, watching reality television, cupcakes, expensive shoes and reading magazines. She hopes to eventually land a job in fashion public relations while living in New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago.
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