Relationships are not easy things to manage during college, no matter who you are. Both people are busy with classes, clubs, work and of course, a social life with friends. That leaves only a limited time to hang out and be with your significant other during the school year. But at least when you are both on campus, you can resolve problems in person, laugh together, cry together or just cuddle together. When you’re in a long-distance relationship, however, the game changes entirely. It is no longer just about balancing commitments to each other and every other activity you have, but also about overcoming the many obstacles distance puts on having a successful relationship. I discovered this very quickly in my study abroad adventures.
My boyfriend and I met and started dating this summer knowing that I would be studying abroad for a year in France. I would be leaving in August and coming back in April, with only a few weeks during winter break where we have the opportunity to see each other. We knew it was going to be hard, we knew that there would be difficult times, and we knew that it would be a test for a relationship just to make sure it wasn’t only a summer fling. But here we are, five months later. Have there been difficult moments? Yes, of course. But in the end we have made it work. For those who are contemplating doing a LDR in the future, here are a few tips I can give you from my own personal experience. Do keep in mind that every couple is different and some things that worked well for my boyfriend and I will not work for other couples.
Communication is the infamous guideline when trying to build a successful relationship, but the way the game is played changes while abroad. Especially if there is a large time difference like the six-hour difference my boyfriend and I are currently living with, opportunities to communicate are limited to portions of the day, or even just certain days of the week. While we have amazing technology such as FaceTime and Skype, sometimes it is just not possible to communicate as much as you would like. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure to talk about what you are thinking. If you have a fear that distance will or is affecting your relationship, do not be afraid to talk about it. Relationships evolve and change over time so sometimes just talking about a few small things will add up to big results. Sometimes just a few texts can clear up small problems which add unnecessary stress to managing a distance relationship.
Jealousy is a concept that changes slightly, given the differences in experience. With distance, essentially every week you and your significant other will be doing fun and exciting things without each other. Sometimes there is no easy way to do those fun things together over Skype. As a result, you get jealous of what your significant other does and how they are having fun without you, even if you are also having a lot of fun. In this case, it is important to remember that since both of you are experiencing different things, it gives you more to talk and share about, which can strengthen the bond of your relationship. It can be hard, but recognizing that the other person is likely feeling the same way is important and communicating those feelings can really strengthen a relationship.
Distance is hard. Sometimes one of the best ways to deal with it is to cry, whether it is to your significant other, your best friend or your pillow. Expression of emotions is important and if you keep your sadness or worry built up inside, it will affect your everyday life. Crying doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. You will also cry from happiness when you see your significant other coming down the stairs to let you into his apartment after being apart for four months. Emotions are integral to relationships so being able to properly deal with your own feelings will create positive byproducts for your relationship.
Doing long distance is hard. I can say firsthand that it is honestly one of the hardest things I have done. But at the end of the day, you learn through your struggles. And if it is meant to be, it will work out for a happily ever after ending.