When I graduated high school in 2009, I had planned to go to the University of Iowa, a school that was around 4 hours away from my hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. It was never my intention to meet a boy I wanted to date right before leaving for college, but as it turns out that’s exactly what happened. I planned on breaking up with him at the end of the summer, I really did. I had a lot of reservations about starting at a new school, in a new state, with a boyfriend. I’d heard the horror stories, and I wanted to start all over at Iowa. But then life happened, and the thought that breaking up with him over a little thing like 4 hours seemed stupid. We could make it work!
Alas, we did not “make it work,” and I was miserable. So miserable that it was a big contributing factor to my transfer of schools. And then we broke up. About a year or so after that relationship, I started dating a boy from Oklahoma. Needless to say, that one didn’t quite work out well for me either. Basically now I like to consider myself a long distance relationship expert.
I realize there are a few certain people who can make this kind of a thing work, and some people who actually enjoy long distance relationships, but alas, I am not one of them. However, if you’re brave enough to enter into a long distance relationship, the definitive guide is below. There’s only two rules you need to follow.
1. As cliche as it sounds, communication is everything. For the jealous girls (don’t be embarrassed, I’m one of you), it is actually the seventh circle of hell when you’re expecting a text and one does not come. In a long distance relationship, communication is literally all you have. You can’t be physical with each other all the time, and there’s really something to be said about just being in the company of your person. An LDR doesn’t give you that opportunity as often.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to communicate now (looking at you, FaceTime). I don’t know if this needs to be said but, if you make a “skype date” with your person and then you cancel, it will feel as painful as a break up. Also, for you college freshman – let your person know what’s going on! I had just joined a sorority at Iowa and there were times I felt like I couldn’t bond with my sisters because my SO expected me to be home and waiting on him. I know it’s stupid, but if I had communicated my feelings better, it would have made a world of difference. Also, respect your partner and their concerns. It’s a very hard to do a LDR right when there is no trust. Don’t betray it, or give them a reason to think that you might.
2. Being at the same place in your life helps tremendously. My 2009 boyfriend was 21 when I was 18. He was able to go to bars and legally drink. I was still stuck in basements of frat houses. He wasn’t really in school, I was taking a full 15 hours. Same with Oklahoma boy. He dropped out of school and was working full time. I was trudging along as a college sophomore, still taking monetary help from Mom and Dad.
These things do not seem like a big deal, but they really are. College students are monumentally busy between work, and homework, and spending ALL DAY in class. If your person isn’t really into the college thing, they might have a hard time understanding why you seemingly “don’t have time for them.” It also helps to have an end in sight. For two college students, graduation is a likely end to the distance. For Oklahoma? It came down to me moving to Oklahoma (which was absolutely not going to happen) or him moving to Nebraska (also, not going to happen). We would have been stuck in limbo forever.
If you’re brave enough, and strong enough to enter into this treacherous test of love – kudos. I’d like to hear all about it. I was clearly missing the boat, but my mistakes are your lessons, ladies.
Molly is a senior journalism/English major at a school you haven’t heard of in a state you haven’t heard of. She’s obsessed with Chandler Bing, English bulldogs, and cheese. Follow her on twitter @gwacamolly, or check out her website accordingtomolly.com