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Sex + Relationships

Should You Go the Distance? HC’s Guide to Long Distance Relationships in College

Whether you’re trying to keep the flame alive with your summer fling while you to go back to school, parting ways from your longtime boyfriend for the semester, or if you’re just starting out in your first long distance relationship and don’t have a clue, we’ve consulted collegiettes across the country as well as Julie Spira, dating expert and founder of CyberDatingExpert.com, to bring you the best guide to long distance lovin’ in college.

Is a LDR is right for you?

Collegiettes be warned, being in a long distance relationship isn’t always easy. LDRs aren’t always romantic like they might seem in the movies and Nicholas Sparks novels. They can be riddled with screaming matches and Skype drama sessions. So before jumping into a long distance relationship, you should consider whether this type of relationship is right for you.

Stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • How long will the long-distance last?
  • How busy will you be?
  • How busy will he be?
  • How often will you be able to see or talk to him?
  • Will you be exclusive or will you date other people?
  • Do you trust him?

Depending on the answers you come up with, you may decide that a long distance relationship isn’t right for you or you may realize that – with commitment – you can both make it work. If you will be going long-term without seeing each other, will both be extremely busy, or will hardly be able to keep in contact at all, then a LDR may not be right for you. “Before you start a LDR, decide on how often you’ll be in touch and your favorite form of communication,” Spira says. “I recommend that you send a morning text to each other and schedule a good night date call via phone or Skype.”

Setting the rules of your long distance relationship

What’s important to remember is that there should be clear-cut rules for your relationship: you should know whether you will be exclusive and how long the separation will last. Being upfront and honest can save you a lot of heartbreak later on.

Spira says that keeping expectations realistic in your LDR can be very important. “Even if you have a busy day scheduled, take a quick digital moment and send your sweetheart an email, flirty text, or post an e-card or song on their Facebook page,” Spira says. “If you’ve made the decision to be exclusive and not date others, stick to your commitment. If you’ve agreed to casually date others, you don’t need to kiss-and-tell. Decide together how often one will travel to see each other and try to stick to our plans.” So what are the things you should discuss in terms of boundaries?

Talk out some of these issues with your guy:

  • Are we exclusive or not exclusive?
  • If we’re not exclusive, can we talk about other dates?
  • How do you feel about partying? Going out? What’s OK and not OK?
  • Can you bring other people as dates to formals?

Samantha from Villanova University has been in an ongoing LDR with her boyfriend Teddy for two years. She agrees that setting and discussing the boundaries to your LDR is the best way to be on the same page.
“If he’s not okay with you going to a frat formal, don’t do it,” Samantha says. “Similarly, if you’re not okay with him dancing with other girls, then he shouldn’t do it. Or if he’s not totally thrilled with the idea of a sexy Halloween costume when he’s not going to be there, you should probably rethink it. They can’t be outrageous boundaries, you both should definitely understand that it’s totally fine to go have a good time with your friends. But at the same time, you should respect them and not act (or dress) like you want to go home with someone else.”
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Spending time together

Take the time to visit each other as often as your schedules (and budgets) allow.

Amy, a recent grad from the University of New Hampshire, says that scheduling visits ahead of time helped in her long distance relationship with her boyfriend who went to Boston University. On most Friday nights, her boyfriend would travel into the town’s train station and would depart for Boston shortly after on Sunday afternoons. Although their relationship wasn’t always smooth, in the end, she says it was definitely worth it.

“We definitely had our fair share of bumps in the road,” she said. “But we were really committed to each other and I think he saw that, because he proposed to me in my senior year of college.”

Even when you can’t be with each other face-to-face, there are other ways to be together.

“Skype is your best friend,” Samantha says. “Texting and phone calls are great, but nothing compares to actually seeing their face. Sometimes it makes you miss them more, but I think missing someone can be a good thing. It reminds you of how strongly you feel for someone, and it makes seeing him that much more special since it’s not something you do every day.”

So what other ways can you keep in touch? “Let your smartphone become your digital personal love assistant and send cute video messages to each other during the week,” Spira says. “There’s nothing like hearing his voice and seeing him tell you how much he misses you. You’ll be able to replay it over and over again and can start creating your digital memory book together.”

Keep it fun

When you’re in a regular relationship, it’s easy to meet with him on campus whether it’s for a cup of coffee or an impromptu lunch between classes. But when you’re in a long distance relationship, you have to be a little more creative. Check out the below list for some cute, romantic ways to keep things fun and flirty (even miles away).

  • Plan a romantic reunion
  • Meet for a candlelit Skype date
  • Send each other care packages
  • Write love letters to each other (yes, we do mean old-school snail mail)
  • Create a pin board via Pinterest to post photos of places you’d like to visit together
  • Leave cutesy voicemails every week
  • Watch a movie together (popcorn included) via Skype
  • Book a romantic break together
  • Send an iTunes song that reminds you of them

Remember to trust him

Trust is key in any relationship, and even more so in one that’s stretched across miles.

“Trust is a big part in any relationship,” Samantha says. “But even more so with LDRs because there is absolutely no way it’s going to work if you’re constantly worrying if your boyfriend or girlfriend is messing around with someone else at school. I think in our case, it helps that we talk every day and tell each other what’s going on in our lives—even little stuff like what we had for dinner or how a poster keeps falling down in the room. When you communicate regularly, it actually almost feels like you’re right there with him.”

Spira says that it’s only natural to feel insecure in a LDR, but that you shouldn’t always jump to conclusions. “If your boyfriend has a lot of female friends or if he’s unreachable, don’t jump to conclusion that he’s in the arms of another woman,” she says. “Keep the communications open. I you see party shots posted on Facebook, the other woman just might be his roommate’s girlfriend and not a substitute for you.”

Most likely, if you do have reason to not trust him, then you should reconsider being in a LDR with him anyway.

Enjoy the independence of your distance

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy the perks of being independent. Annabelle from the University of Nottingham in England says that it’s important to remember that even if you’re committed in a LDR, don’t forget to have fun!

Annabelle spent a year abroad in the States and away from her boyfriend. She agrees that continuing to live your life is important.

“I still had a brilliant year and did everything that my single friends did,” Annabelle saysd
If you’re serious about making it work with your guy, even across miles, there are ways to defy the distance! As Spira says, “Long distance relationships aren’t for everyone, but if you feel a strong connection with someone, technology can become your best friend. A girl should understand that there will be many special occasions where her boyfriend can’t be at her side. If he’s ‘the one,’ you shouldn’t let distance get in the way of love.”

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.
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