What happens when sweethearts have to split up to attend different colleges hundreds of miles apart?
Can they deal with the strain of being apart while keeping the relationship fresh? Many students boldly give it a try because they’re convinced they’ve found their true love, the person they’re destined to marry.
What can these folks do to make things work? Let’s take a look at some long distance relationship tips endorsed by relationship experts. By the way, married couples in long distance relationships can also benefit from these tips!
- Be thoughtful: Every couple of weeks, send a hand written love note the old fashioned way, via the postal service. Hand written letters feel more personal than emails or text messages. If you’re the super romantic type, write and send a love poem every once in a while. Flowers, chocolates, balloons, or gift baskets also make thoughtful gifts that your partner will enjoy. And as always, homemade gifts are always appreciated.
- Focus on the positive: Gregory Guldner, M.D. is the author of Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide. According to him, “Couples who appreciate the positive aspects of their separation are more likely to stay together.” Some of the positive aspects of a long distance relationship are the ability to take advantage of educational opportunities, the exhilaration of reunions, and the extra time to focus on personal growth.
- Stay busy: Don’t spend time waiting for an email or a text message from your partner. You’ll get frustrated and concerned about the relationship. Stay busy by joining clubs, volunteering, or hanging out with friends. Guldner believes that “Companionship with friends helps strengthen your relationship and reduces the loneliness and depression reported by people in long distance relationships.” With certain schools with accelerated learning programs like Cardinal Stritch University, staying busy shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish.
- Keep dates: Keep all the telephone and online dates you’ve scheduled. Being prompt let’s your sweetheart know that you’re still reliable and eager to spend time together. Setting up the dates in advance builds excitement.
- Confrontations via email: Caroline Tiger, author of The Long Distance Relationship, believes that fighting over email is a bad idea. “It’s too easy to misread meanings,” she says. She also mentioned that if you’re concerned about ruining an in-person visit, wait until the middle of your time together to address a contentious issue. “That way, you’ve been able to reconnect, and there’s enough time left to make up.”
- Share something in common: Some long distance partners like to rent the same movie and have a long distance movie date via the telephone.
- Webcam: Talking on the telephone is great, but take advantage of modern technology and have a conversation via webcam. Use a free service such as Skype. To spice things up, dress up for your webcam dates! Try to schedule webcam chats every other night or so at specific times.
- Plan visits: Get together as much as possible. Looking forward to the visits makes the time apart easier to deal with. Plan some romantic and fun activities.
- Space to grow: Dr. Sue, a life and relationship coach based in Los Angeles, wrote, “the best long distance relationship advice for scholastic couples is to give each other space to grow as individuals.” She added, “growth and learning are what college is all about, and these are the years where a lot of your tastes, personality, and interests are going to change. Be open to change, and don’t let your relationship limit you.”
In order for long distance relationships to work, both parties have to be equally dedicated to the relationship. Enjoy the relationship, but try not to sacrifice too much.
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What advice do you have to share for long distance relationships? Let’s talk in the comments below!
Brian Jenkins, a BrainTrack.com staff writer, contributes feature articles about careers in marriage and family therapy, among other career fields.