Last fall, you met your significant other in college. You two began dating, developed exclusivity and, after a while, became practically inseparable. It’s totally normal; college relationships almost exist outside of the real world, because for once in your life you share the same agenda, goals, and residential street name with the person you love. It is amazing, but it is temporary, and now — just as you knew it would — it is coming to an end.
By “it” I mean college — the relationship can survive. Sure, it’ll be a different dynamic; at times you’ll be frustrated, lonely, and you will miss your loved one so much you think your heart is going to burst, but maintaining the relationship, and the happiness within it, is possible. College is at time of growth and change, after all; the relationship you’ve formed within it should progress in the same way. Distance is a scary monster, and though it can’t always be killed, its influence certainly can be weakened and overcome if you’re serious about one another. Whether your college sweetie lives an hour away or several states away, keeping a positive attitude and the mindset that your situations are only temporary (you’ll be back to school in a few months!) will get you through this necessary evil.
1. Be optimistic. Look to the future, to the time you’ll get to spend with each other, rather than dwelling on your situation. It is completely okay to let your SO know that you miss them and school, but if that’s the only thing you talk about you’re going to overlook potential opportunities the two of you have to grow as a couple now. Distance is bad for a lot of reasons, but it is a true test of how much you really care for one another. Plan things in advance, continue to tell them the mundane details of your day, make decisions with your loved one in mind, and so on. Maintaining that positivity is essential for both of your sanities. When you are together, cherish the moment by enjoying their immediate company. Cry when you leave them, but not a moment before.
2. Clear boundaries. Trust is important in any relationship, but it is absolutely essential when you’re going the distance after months of inextricable time together. You need to be clear with your SO about what you expect and what you’ll give in return (and vice versa) this summer so you’re not surprised or disappointed by the way communication between the two of you has changed. You just have to trust that, no matter what, they love you and want to be with you.
3. Phone sex. Or some variation of that. Sorry, parents everywhere, but we are young, sexually charged adults that feed off of more than just emotional attraction to keep our relationships alive. Remind your SO what they’re missing in sexy and creative ways; it keeps the relationship exciting and will definitely make them miss you even more. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.
4. Integrate him/her into your home life. Merging your two worlds together can be a lot harder than you think. Sure, everyone at school accepts you two as one entity, but what about your SO’s family and friends — people who knew them, their habits, their mistakes, their maturational process, long before you did? If you really want to make your relationship work, use whatever time you have—be it frequently throughout the summer or just one afternoon — with the people they love wisely. Their opinion of you and how you affect your SO’s behavior could carry a lot of weight in your partner’s mind. Likewise, make your SO feel comfortable at your home. You want them to be themselves, but that’s going to be difficult if all they’re focused on is how to make the best impression. Colliding your two worlds can be a little strange at first, but like so much else in a temporary long distance relationship, it is all about give and take.
5. Healthy mix of the familiar and the new. Whether or not you can be together this summer, it’s important to keep up with the traditions and habits the two of you have formed at school. Your favorite pig-out meal at 10pm in the dorms was Chinese? Get some Chinese when you reunite. Have a mutual love for looking at funny Vines? Send them to each other to lighten the mood. Alternatively, introduce your SO to things you love but have never done with them before, or things you’ve always wanted to try but never could. Reliving old memories while continuing to make new ones is a great way to remind your SO that the person they fell for at college is still here, and is willing to adapt to whatever situation as long as they’re by your side.
6. Most importantly, have patience. Wait for the text, the day they visit, the vacation you have planned together, or your return to school with rationality and dignity. Accept that they have other things going on, just like you do, and that they might be too busy, tired, or forgetful to call you when they said they would. Trust me, I know how frustrating it will be, but rather than getting upset and acting on your emotions (and in your SO’s eyes, a little bit crazy), wait it out. There is always an explanation.