Navigating College Long-Distance Relationships
Navigating college can already be difficult enough without the added complexity of a long-distance relationship. With classrooms, internships, and social activities, managing time and distance can put a strain on any relationship. Despite this, it is possible to have a successful college long-distance relationship. Here, we’ll give you some tips and advice on how to make it work.
1. Challenges of a Long-Distance College Relationship
College brings a variety of changes into someone’s life, and while this time of life is often full of growth and opportunity, it can also be difficult. When both partners in a long-distance relationship attend college, the challenges can be heightened. Here are a few challenges you can expect to experience in a long-distance college relationship:
- Scheduling: Finding time to talk on the phone or Skype when your and your partner’s schedule don’t match up can be difficult. With the pressures of homework, tests, and social activities, it can be challenging to find any free time, let alone when you’re both available.
- Feeling connected: With physical distance between you and your partner, it can be hard to maintain a connection. It can be easy to feel distant from each other and miss out on day-to-day aspects of your relationship.
- Trust: Long-distance relationships can be very demanding trust-wise. Since you’re not able to physically be together, it can be difficult to have faith in your partner and trust when they’re not with you.
- Social activities: Having to attend social activities alone while your partner is far away can be daunting. You may find yourself feeling lonely and wishing for their presence.
These are just a few challenges you may experience in a long-distance college relationship, and it can be difficult to navigate. With understanding, communication, and trust, these obstacles can be overcome, and you can enjoy a stronger, more secure relationship.
2. Keeping the Spark Alive
1. Quality Communication
Long-distance relationships can be full of emotional hurdles, but if your communication is solid, you have a greater chance of having your relationship flourish in college. So prioritize quality conversations with each other, if you don’t have the time to jump on a call, write a thoughtful text or email instead.
Show your SO care and understanding by listening closely and straying away from jumbly and vague responses. Show your interest in what they do and how their day is going. Let them know how important they are in your life.
2. Make Time for Each Other
With a busy college schedule, it can be hard to set aside time each day, but you should prioritize having regular communication. Even it being 10 minutes a day could make a difference and help keep your spark alive. Get creative and find meaningful ways to connect that works with both of your tight schedules.
How to Connect:
- Watch a movie together on the phone
- Send each other handwritten letters or cards in the mail
- Share funny photos or videos from your day
- Set up Skype or Facetime dinner/lunch dates
- Play an online game together
Whatever you do, have fun and cherish the limited time you have together. When special occasions take place, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays, do something meaningful to celebrate the times. It will add to the feeling of togetherness and make it feel as though you are closer. Revel in the depths of your relationship no matter how far away you are.
3. Staying Connected
Long-distance relationships require more effort and upkeep than those that are able to see each on a day-to-day basis. Here are some tips for despite being at separate schools:
- Voice and video calls: Schedule regular phone, Skype, or Facetime calls so you can still see one another’s faces and hear one another’s voices.
- Send physical reminders: Exchange handwritten love notes, mail postcards from new cities or memories from home, and leave special packages or notes in one another’s dwellings.
- Create shared experiences: Find movies, books, and podcasts that you can both enjoy and have conversations about.
For an extra connection, create shared online spaces such as a shared calendar or document repository. Being able to stay in each other’s lives despite the physical distance can provide a much-needed connection and reassurance.
- Share memories: Whether that’s looking through old photos together online or creating a timeline of events that you’ve been through as a couple.
- Create new traditions: It’s important to make an effort to have fun and spend time together. So, come up with new activities that you both enjoy and use that as an opportunity to connect while you’re apart.
4. Scheduling Quality Time Together
- Choose a few weekdays that you and your partner will dedicate some quality time together.
- Figure out what makes the most sense for both of you in terms of what days and times you can commit and prioritize that time to spend together.
- Figure out the best ways for each of you to communicate and connect during quality time.
- Understand that college life is busy for both of you and there is limited time, so agree on what kind of boundaries you and your partner need in terms of consistently reserving quality time together.
- Discuss what both of you are comfortable with and stick with that.
- Make sure that you and your partner leave equal room for your own individual lives and how you spend that time.
5. Coping with Jealousy and Insecurity
If you’re in a college-long distance relationship, jealousy and insecurity can easily become an issue. It’s important to address how jealous and insecure you’re feeling honestly, rather than letting the emotions fester and cause more problems. Here are some tips to help you navigate these rocky emotions:
- Talk openly about feelings: Talk about how you’re feeling with your partner and make sure to always be honest. Communication is key to a successful long-distance relationship.
- Remind yourself why you are in the relationship: Jealousy and insecurity can often lead to doubt. Whenever you feel that way, remind yourself of all the positive things in your relationship and why you chose to be with your partner in the first place.
- Focus on yourself: Most of the feelings of jealousy and insecurity stem from comparisons with others or feeling like there is something WRONG with you. Instead of stewing in those negative emotions, find ways to focus on yourself and build your own self-esteem.
- Seek advice: Talking to a trusted friend or relative that understands your relationship may help give you more clarity on the situation. Sometimes having an outside perspective can be refreshing.
At the end of the day, try to remember that college-long distance relationships don’t have to be doomed. With some honest communication and self-reflection, you can make sure that jealousy and insecurity don’t become an issue in your relationship.
6. Creative Ways to Spice Up the Relationship
Set up a virtual date night. It may not be as romantic as a traditional date night, but it can still be really special nonetheless. Try to set up a specific time to engage in activities such as watching a movie, playing video games, or having dinner together. Make sure to set up the atmosphere; put on dressy clothes, use decorations or fun props, light some candles, and play romantic music in the background.
Create a memory box. Create a physical box full of pieces of paper, photos, and other small trinkets that will remind each other of your relationship and the fun times you’ve shared. You can write cute notes, slip in little gifts, or write down favorite memories. Make sure to take turns swapping out items in the box and mailing it to each other every now and then.
Make surprise care packages. They don’t have to be expensive or extravagant; it can be something as simple as a favorite snack of theirs, or a piece of art you created for them. You can even order online and have it shipped directly to them!
Unusual ways to stay close:
- Make YouTube playlists for each other.
- Start a fun text exchange game.
- Play virtual board games or video games together.
- Write love letters.
- Host themed dance parties.
- Send each other goodnight selfies.
- Download a shared game app.
Make sure to communicate and be intentional about finding new ways to make your relationship thrive despite the long-distance. These tips will help you keep the spark alive and bring the two of you closer.
7. Giving Each Other Space
Making Time for Friends and Family: One of the most important things in a successful long-distance relationship is recognizing that both of you can have a life outside of each other. That means to spend time with friends and family, as well as take part in activities that make you happy. Doing so allows you both to grow as individuals and fully enjoy one another when you have face-to-face time.
Being Independent: One of the advantages of being in a long-distance relationship is that it gives each of you the opportunity to be independent from one another. Without the constant physical presence of the other involved in daily life, you are forced to rely on yourself. This “independence” allows you to be more self-sufficient and confident when it comes time to spend time together.
What to Do:
- Be honest about your need for time apart.
- Give each other space to grow as individuals.
- Allow yourself to have a life outside the relationship.
- Make time for yourself and your hobbies.
When both of you are able to take time for yourselves, it can help make you stronger when you come back together. You’ll have more to talk about and more to bring to the table, making your time more meaningful.
8. Making It Work Despite Distance
Maintaining a healthy relationship while in college can be challenging enough on its own. Add the complexity of distance between you and your significant other while navigating it, and it can seem like an insurmountable feat. But, all hope is not lost. Here are a few ideas for keeping the spark alive and making it work despite the distance:
- Set aside time for each other. Just because you’re apart in terms of physical distance doesn’t mean you have to be apart in terms of emotional distance. Set aside a few days or hours a week that you can dedicate to talking to each other. Planning ahead helps ensure you’ll make the effort.
- Live in the moment. As cliched as it may sound, living in the moment is great for maintaining close ties over miles. Don’t fret over what has happened, focus on the now. Enjoy the conversations you have right now, not worrying about what’s going to happen later.
- Stay busy. Keeping yourself busy is the best way to avoid thinking about the distance between you and your significant other. Balance out your time and focus on your studies, work, and hobbies. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your needs.
If you’re having difficulty compromising and working out disagreements, don’t be afraid to turn to a trusted friend or counselor. Talking things through with someone who’s not directly involved can help you better understand different perspectives and reach a middle ground.
Navigating college long-distance relationships inevitably comes with its own challenges. With creativity, an open mind, and dedication to making it work, you can keep the flame alive, no matter the physical distance.
Although navigating college long-distance relationships is not easy, it is far from impossible. With a good dose of honesty, patience, and trust, you can make it through. If you find yourself in the vulnerable position of a long-distance relationship, stay optimistic and remember that it doesn’t need to be the end—it could be the beginning.