I’ve written about online dating before and how I met my partner via OKCupid. Since he lives in Columbus, we are now in a long-distance relationship.
I know a lot of people who are or have been in long-distance relationships while in college. The circumstances of college often allow you to expand your social network beyond just your campus, or perhaps you might be attending college far away from your hometown.
Though many people think long-distance relationships are bound to fail, I think in many cases, they can be great learning tools for communication, trust and respect. They’re only doomed to fail if you’re not up for the challenge or mature enough to handle it.
As I love lists, here are my tips for making a long-distance relationship work:
Communicate … About Everything: Seriously, you need to have prime communication skills in order to make something like this work. Not only do you need to keep your partner in the loop, but also you should establish a communication plan that you can both agree to stick to. Otherwise, it can get easy to become too busy or too obsessed that you focus all of your time and energy in on them. Talk about your level of comfort and coordinate your schedules to figure out what sort of communication styles are going to work the best. If you have at least some privacy, scheduling phone or Skype calls is a great way to stay in touch and hold one another accountable.
See Each Other As Often as Possible: Just like you should make time to communicate, you should make time to see each other in person. Obviously, it will depend on how long the distance is between the two of you. There are also the other factors of money and freedom: what are your class and work schedules like? How much does it cost to get to one another and who is going to pay for those expenses? Where are you going to stay when one of you visits? How are you going to eat? What are you going to do together? These are questions you should talk about before visiting.
Pursue Other Interests: As hard as it is not to obsess or want to know exactly what the other person is doing, force yourself to step away from the computer. Find hobbies or activities to do on weekends when you’re not together, hang out with friends or just go for a workout. Having time to miss each other is important, but in order to do that, you can’t be thinking about someone constantly or foregoing activities in order to spend time with them.
Have an Endpoint: When entering a long distance relationship, you need to think about the end game. The fact is that if one of you doesn’t move to where the other one is, or you both don’t relocate together, the chances of your relationship making it for the long term are very slim. You’re probably not going to want to have a relationship filled with emails and Facetime forever, so you need to figure out what the end is going to look like. That doesn’t mean that if you can’t end up together realistically, you shouldn’t pursue the relationship. It just means you’re going to have to figure out what the end point is. A lot of people think there is no point having a relationship that doesn’t have the potential of forever, but I disagree. You can learn a lot from relationships of all kinds and besides, how many people really stay with their college sweetheart until they’re 80?
The bottom line is: long-distance relationships are doable, but like everything else, they won’t work unless you do, too.
Erin Fischer is a senior studying women’s and gender studies. Email her at email@example.com.