It’s no secret that being half of a long distance relationship is never easy – but as someone who has been doing long distance for nearly two years now, I can tell you that what the naysayers won’t: When you truly care about someone, it’s always worth it. After spending my entire college career (so far) 10+ hours from my favorite person, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make long distance work. Thinking about trying an LDR for yourself? Read this first.
1. Communication is key.
Newsflash: Successfully doing long distance is going to make you a really good communicator really quickly. Because your face-to-face interactions with your significant other are going to be limited to only a few times a year, learning to effectively communicate and maintain a relationship via phone/text/Skype almost entirely is a must. Keep in mind that your partner can’t see your facial expressions on the phone or hear the tone in your voice when you text, meaning that it’s important to be extra careful to avoid misunderstandings. Which brings us to…
2. Make sure you’re both on the same page.
Are you both in it for the long run? Are you completely exclusive with one another? How often can you afford to travel to see one another and who is responsible for paying for it? Deciding to continue a relationship despite distance involves having some pretty tough conversations before deciding to go for it – but they’re also important conversations that are totally worth having. Making sure you’re both on the same page will ensure that your expectations are the same as your S/O’s and that nobody’s feelings will get hurt.
3. Make use of that front-facing camera.
Skype, FaceTime, and then Skype some more – video calling is the best way to almost feel like you and your partner are together even if you’re miles apart. While texting constantly or calling each other every night are important, face-to-face communication will make you feel closest to each other – and TBH, you’ll soon see that there’s nothing better than being able to FaceTime your boyfriend and vent after a blah day.
4. Long distance “dates” are a thing.
Right now, me and my boyfriend are addicted to watching House of Cards, on Netflix “together” when we have time. Before that, we also simultaneously binge-watched Parks and Recreation and Scandal. When it comes to doing long distance, it’s going to take a little bit of creativity to feel connected to your S/O. Find time to watch a movie or TV show at the same time while you text or talk on the phone throughout or plan another little “date” that makes you feel close to your partner – as with any other relationship, it’s still important to make time for each other.
5. The little things add up.
Text him and tell him you love him and are thinking about him. Send her flowers. Send a care package filled with his favorite candy. Write a handwritten note. Sometimes the most meaningful ways to show you care from a distance aren’t actually even that hard, and it shows your partner that you’re thinking of him or her even though you’re separated by distance. When you put in the effort it shows you’re willing to go the extra mile to make the relationship work out. (Oh, and there isn’t a single college student on earth who doesn’t love getting candy/food/flowers/basically anything at all in the mail.)
6. Plan your visits in advance.
Even if you’re close enough to your S/O’s school that “long distance” doesn’t involve booking an expensive plane ticket (lucky!), it’s important to plan time to see each other in advance. This ensures you’ll never have to go too long without seeing each other and will make the most out of the times when you can travel to be together during a break or long weekend. Not to mention that having a specific date in mind for the next time you’ll finally be reunited doesn’t exactly hurt when it comes to keeping your sanity either.
7. Be involved in each other’s lives.
It can be hard to truly feel like a part of someone’s life when their school, friends, extracurricular activities, and social life are completely separate from your own. If at all possible, try to actually visit each other at school, where you can experience your S/O’s life on campus and meet a few of his or her friends. (I once went with my boyfriend to his giant Chemistry lecture – hey, you gotta do what you gotta do!) It’s a small detail, but it’s one that can make all the difference.
8. But also make time for yourself.
Making time for your long distance boyfriend or girlfriend does not, however, mean dropping all of your Friday night plans with your besties just to spend every single weekend Skyping your partner. Especially at the start of a LDR, it can be easy to fall into the trap of wanting to spend every moment of free time texting or on the phone with your S/O. While it’s important to be there for each other, long distance is all about balance – make sure you’re not letting your relationship get in the way of experiencing all of the amazing things your own school has to offer.
9. Stay honest with each other.
Tempted to hook up with that cutie from your calc class and think it won’t hurt your S/O if he or she doesn’t find out? Think again. Unless you’ve mutually agreed to not be exclusive, cheating and lying to your partner is a big no-no, even if you think there’s no way for him or her to find out. Long distance is hard, but it’s never an excuse to cheat – and staying completely honest with each other is what will keep your relationship strong despite the struggle of an LDR.