Many students decide to continue being a couple even when they go off in different directions. Is your relationship strong enough to survive the separation? Are there strategies for making the relationship work? Is a long-distance relationship even wise? These questions don’t have easy answers, but you can start addressing them by considering the following:
Long-Distance Relationships Aren’t Easy
- College is one of the most life-changing experiences you will have. During your college journey, you’ll be forced to figure out who you really are—both professionally and personally. Sometimes, it’s difficult to balance your time making those amazing self-discoveries and still having time for your nightly phone dates.
- For many students, dating around is part of their social development—and we’re not just talking about sex. It’s hard to be part of the college scene when you’re busy counting down the days until you can pack your bags to visit your partner. You may also face a lot of peer pressure to date someone at your own college.
- Starting college means adapting to a new home, new professors, new friends, new pressures and responsibilities. Getting used to the college environment and rising to meet academic challenges is going to take lots of energy. You will have to be creative to schedule study time along with working on your long-distance relationship.
- Because you’re far away, there’s no chance you’ll be able to watch your partner’s every move. You have to learn to trust your partner to be in a successful relationship. It’s as simple as that. You won’t always know where they are or who they're with.
Questions You Both Need to Ask
What are your expectations? You both need to be on the same page. Ask the important question: “What are you expectations for this relationship?” If you can’t lay all your cards on the table, the result will be miscommunication and, quite possibly, the demise of the relationship.
Will you be exclusive? While some couples vow to remain 100 percent monogamous, others acknowledge that college is a time of growth and self-discovery. Do you want to be exclusive? Remember, being allowed to see other people and actually doing it are two different things. Sometimes, just having some freedom is enough to keep both parties satisfied.
Are you the jealous type? It can be quite frustrating to explain your whole day to someone who doesn’t quite understand your life anymore. How will you react when your partner has a social life entirely separate from you? How will you feel when your partner turns to new friends in a crisis? Jealousy must be overcome to maintain long-distance relationships.
How will you keep in touch? If one of you expects a call every day and the other thinks checking in once a day via texting is enough, there’s going to be a problem. Remember, sometimes less can be more. If you’re “checking in” every night before bed, you may have difficulty keeping it exciting, or you may have nothing new or exciting to say.
How often will you visit? If you’re within easy driving distance of each other, you may decide to visit every other weekend. If you’re a plane ride away, you probably won’t be able to visit that frequently. You’ll have to balance your need to reconnect with the time and expense of travel. Also, think twice before making a surprise visit—if you catch your partner at a busy time, you both risk being disappointed.
For the Long Haul
The college experience will change you and your partner. Whether or not you’ll stay together is something you will need to decide during the good times and bad, but you’ll need to allow each other to grow as individuals.
It’s not easy. If you feel the need to cry once in a while (or just vent really loudly), don’t hold back. Make sure you have a solid group of friends at your own college that you can turn to. Find out where the counseling center is and make an appointment. Relationship problems merit this type of attention. The stresses of a long-distance relationship can impact your academic and social life. Get your feelings out there instead of keeping them bottled up inside.
And if you do decide to end your relationship, take the high road. Don’t write the person off in an e-mail, text or IM. Treat your breakup with the same amount of regard and respect you gave your relationship. And if you’re the one being broken up with, try to see the positive side—there’s a whole college of people out there waiting to meet you.