Lasting Through the Long Distance
Long-distance relationships are heart-wrenching as they are. But attending a different college than your partner, on separate campuses with their own populations of students with whom to interact, can open up a whole new can of worms.
While separated from your partner, it is common for skepticism to come into the picture, temptations for cheating to arise, or thoughts of the life-changing decision to switch schools become an option. How can you avoid the empty feeling of being away and maintain trust?
Kayleigh O'Hara, a freshman at Newbury College in Massachusetts, claims that her relationship with her boyfriend at Rutgers University in New Jersey is “perfect.”
“He's been my best friend for years and I honestly couldn't see myself giving him up,” she said, adding that living 250 miles apart, they keep in touch via text messaging and Skype. “We like to keep each other informed of what's going on during our day, even if it seems minuscule.”
Relationship expert Stephany Alexander, CEO of WomanSavers.com and author of multiple dating advice books, agreed with O’Hara’s method of handling her long-distance situation with technology.
“Phone, text and email your partner often,” Alexander said, also suggesting taking advantage of video chat software. “Set up video chat dates on Skype just like you would a real date. Get ready for the date, share a meal or a glass of wine or a beer (or water if you're not 21) and flirt with each other like crazy so when you finally meet up with each other again, fireworks go off.”
O’Hara and her boyfriend, now in their fifth month together, met in their sophomore year of high school. The two said enduring over an entire summer apart allowed them to grow into a serious long-distance college couple.
Despite O'Hara's success, these relationships can be anything but flawless. O’Hara admitted to feeling “empty” when moving away from her boyfriend to a different state. She said it hardly takes effort to get lost in the shuffle of having fun while your partner is unaware of the single tendencies you may lead, and vice versa.
“It’s extremely easy for a person to cheat in a long-distance relationship because it's harder to catch them,” Alexander said. “Let people around you know you are taken … When your partner comes to visit, introduce them to all of your friends and don't hide them.”
For those considering the move for love, Eliza Furman, author of Kiss and Run: The Single, Picky and Indecisive Girl's Guide to Overcoming Her Fear of Commitment, advised that moving should be for other prospects, not just for your partner.
“If things don't work out you can always take advantage of all the other opportunities still available to you,” she said. “Also, don't make it all about the relationship when moving. It puts too much pressure on things to work out.”
O’Hara claimed that even though it is difficult to be alone in college, she cannot see herself without her boyfriend. “I personally choose to stay in a long-distance relationship rather than dating someone in the area because my relationship is already so good, even if we're 250 miles apart,” she said
Long-distance relationships can provide a secure and real relationship in the midst of students experimenting with their sexual limitations. “Your 20s are a time to experiment and learn about yourself through the people you date and meet. But that doesn't always have to be a sexual relationship so it's up to each person to set their own boundaries,” said Furman.
Though, if a long distance relationship seizes to withhold the distance and breaks apart, Alexander suggested letting the flame sizzle out softly and closing contact with your partner. “When breaking off a long-distance relationship, keep it drama free, kind and polite. Do not break up via text or email,” she said.
Though they will not see each other on Valentine’s Day, O’Hara and her boyfriend are planning a special get-together the weekend before.
Living miles apart does not guarantee that your relationship will last forever, but in securing a close foundation and keeping contact with your partner, you will be able to see positive differences in your relationship. Keep in touch, see each other as much as possible, and dive into the opportunities that await you.