Long Distance Relationships Can Work: 5 Keys to Success

14 million couples consider themselves being in long distance relationships.

Among those relationships, 32.5% of them are college relationships. Throughout the five years or so that I’ve been attending college, I have been in two long distance relationships. One of them was with a guy named Zach who I had been dating since my junior year of high school, and the other one is with my current boyfriend of over a year and a half, Robert, a former co-worker.

Zach and I had been dating for a little over two years when our senior year of high school came around. We were both applying to colleges and debating on whether to attend the same school. As much as I wanted to go be on the same campus as Zach, I thought it would be better if we went to different schools.  I was afraid that the luxury of seeing him whenever I wanted would get in the way of me doing well in college, and I really wanted to graduate. Zach agreed that going to separate schools would be better.

From the time we made the decision of attending separate colleges until it was move-in day, Zach and I spent a lot of time with each other. He reassured me that us being on two different campuses wouldn’t put a damper on our long-term relationship. He attended a university an hour and fifteen minutes away, and I opted for the community college five minutes down the street. I had faith that if our relationship was really meant to be, it would somehow work out.

I will admit that the first few weeks of him being away were hard. I got so used to him living about five minutes away that him being over an hour away was quite a change. Since I couldn’t actually see him in person like I normally would, I had the urge to call him all of the time. We would talk to each other on the phone numerous times each day, which wasn’t so bad because his work load hadn’t picked up yet. I didn’t even need to be on the same campus as him to be distracted by the fact that he was gone, and I found myself slacking in my studies. Eventually, it got to the point where Zach could hardly talk on the phone because he was too caught up studying and hanging out with his new friends.

A little over seven months later, he broke up with me. Although there were many reasons why the relationship didn’t work out, being away from each other for most of the time definitely didn’t help. Over the course of those several months, I was only able to visit him at school enough times to count on one hand. Part of why I couldn’t see him very often had to do with the fact that I didn’t have a reliable form of transportation. As a result, I had to take a Greyhound bus, and that’s definitely something that adds up over time. My parents weren’t very fond of me visiting him alone at school, which is another reason why I was limited to only seeing him a few times.

Not having a successful long distance relationship didn’t prevent me from trying another one, though. About four years later, I began dating my former co-worker Robert. At the time, I was four months into the school year at the college I transferred from, and he was two and a half hours away in my hometown working. Using what I learned from my first long distance relationship, I have managed to keep a healthy and stress-free relationship with Robert over the past fifteen months or so that I’ve been in school. It also helps that I’ve been home during both summer breaks to spend time with him.

70% of long distance relationships fail due to unplanned changes.

Be part of the 30% who have thriving long distance relationships by keeping these lessons I learned in mind:

  • Make your relationship an ongoing conversation. Robert and I use text messaging as our main way of communicating with each other throughout the day when I’m in class, and he is at work. I send him frequent updates on what I’m doing. For example, a picture of unappealing meal I’m eating at the dining hall, or a simple message about an awesome grade I got on an assignment. At least a couple times a week, we’ll video chat on Skype. We also occasionally talk on the phone. Keeping in constant contact with your significant other is key to maintaining a healthy long distance relationship.
  •  Make time to see each other in person.  Most couples visit each other less than twice a month. Robert has been nice enough to visit me fairly often at school by car. Fortunately, my college isn’t too far away from a train station, so I’ve taken advantage of that whenever he hasn’t been able to come up. We’ve make a point to see each other at least once a week, and sometimes more than that if we are lucky. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to see their significant others that often. If this is the case for you, be sure to make the most of the time that you do get to see each other.
  • You might have to make sacrifices. There have been times when my schedule has conflicted with Robert’s, or a family emergency came up that prevented him from visiting me, so we’d go longer without seeing each other. If this happens, try not to get too upset. Talking on the phone or Skype is still a possibility. Keep in mind that just because you can’t see your significant other right then doesn’t mean you never will. College is a short fraction of your life, and if the relationship is truly meant to be, you’ll both be able to get through not seeing each other for a while.
  • Keep yourself busy. When I was working and going to community college while Zach was away at school, I still found myself with a lot of down time that made it easy for me to mope about him not being around. Since Robert and I have dated, I’ve become really involved with extracurricular activities that have helped take my mind off not being with him. 
  • Look forward to the little things. It might be a week or more until you see your significant other, but you have a Skype date that night. Seeing him on the computer screen is better not than not seeing him at all. Maybe you don’t have time to talk on Skype and have to resort to phone calls or text messaging. Either way, be thankful for the little ways you’re communicating with your significant other in that moment. 

Source: http://www.longdistancerelationshipstatistics.com/

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Britni Roberts

Britni Roberts

Britni Roberts is a senior at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois pursuing a degree in English Writing. She has been an Editor for the North Central Kindling humor magazine, Assistant News and Arts Editor for the North Central Chronicle newspaper, as well as a DJ and Rock News Reporter for WONC-FM 89.1, her college’s radio station. She enjoys listening to music and spending time with her friends, boyfriend, and his cat Willow.