Long distance relationships (LDR’s) are difficult at any age. In college, when most people are just finding themselves amidst a sea of academic and social entanglements that require much of their every day attention, maintaining an LDR can seem impossible.
While you may find that to be true, you may also find it to be extremely rewarding despite the challenges. Some of your friends won’t understand why you’d attach yourself to someone you see on a screen more often than in real life, but you know it’s worth it for that amazing moment when you’re back in each others’ arms.
Despite your unwavering faith in one another, you and your long-distance bae will have struggles and conflict, especially with trust. This makes communication so important to keeping an LDR alive. Beyond basic texting about how your day is going or that hilarious thing that just happened to you, electronic communication can and should be more nuanced in an LDR.
Let them know you’re thinking about them
It’s always a struggle to show affection when you can’t physically embrace your significant other. How can you put the brush of a hand, a loving smile, or a gentle kiss into a text message? We rarely notice ourselves doing these simple acts that betray our feelings to our SO’s, but we notice their absence, and it can lead to unintentional neglect in an LDR.
However, there are other ways to show your SO how much you truly care about them beyond simply restating that fact over and over.
Say good morning and goodnight. Spontaneously tell them what you find to be one of their most attractive qualities. Send them an article or song or funny photo that made you think of them or a previous conversation. Remind them how beautiful they are, tell them that you were just thinking of them, or how you can’t wait to do all of your favorite things together the next time you see each other.
Send each other care packages, but just be sure to agree on the scale and expense beforehand to avoid over- or underwhelming your partner. Something sweet or intimate in the mail provides a physical reminder that is hard to convey with even the most eloquent words.
Be transparent, even if the truth isn’t easy
You and your SO could be the two most faithful people in the world and still fall into the mutual distrust that an LDR so often breeds. You are not living in the same city and may not have the same friends. You have no way to know if they are actually doing what they say they are doing at any given moment, and long stretches of radio silence attributed to a dead battery or lost signal might still raise suspicions in your mind that your SO could be cheating.
Jealousy and trust issues are common in relationships, regardless of distance. Our distrust is often shaped by the scars of previous relationships. It’s important to take each other’s “triggers” into consideration and be as patient as you can with each other’s needs.
Answer questions honestly, but try to take the initiative so your partner never becomes concerned enough to ask them. Be open about your activities and who you’re with and ask that your partner reciprocate. If you’re uncomfortable with what they say or do, say so, but don’t expect them to change their behavior for you unless it becomes a deal-breaker.
To be happy and healthy individuals, you need to have your own fulfilling lives separate from one another, especially in an LDR. But if you want to keep the LDR healthy too, you need to be as open as you can about how you spend your time away from bae, and as accommodating to their needs as you can be without compromising your own lifestyle. If your behavior is causing your SO to constantly question your fidelity or is of a nature you don’t even feel comfortable disclosing to your SO, then it’s probably time to reconsider your priorities.
Go on “dates”
Just because you can’t sit down in a restaurant together doesn’t mean you can’t go on a date when you and your partner are in LDR mode. Phone and Skype dates let you hear each other’s voices or even see each other’s faces, and having a regular “date” time and day or at least planning in advance can make the communication seem more like a date.
Beyond talking and flirting, there are a lot of date night activities you can do just over Skype. If you want to be cute and romantic, you can dress up or even separately cook the same meal so you’re “eating together”. You can watch shows and movies together (in-sync) using websites like Rabb.it, and there are a lot of multiplayer online games you can play together, from scrabble to League of Legends. You can get creative and draw together or read to one another. Simply going about your normal activities and studies with your partner on your screen can make it feel like they’re actually there, ready to provide a diversion whenever you need it.
LDR’s thrive on communication, and it’s important to make sure that you and your partner share the same expectations for how and how often you’ll communicate when you’re apart. If conflict arises and you can’t meet in person, never, ever argue or discuss important matters over text. Tone does not come across in text messages and straightforward talks can blow up into huge arguments if one of you misreads the others’ tone for the worse. Always call or Skype if you need to talk about something important, and never go to bed or let your SO go to bed angry unless you’ve already talked it out as much as you possibly can.
You can’t be lazy in an LDR. You have to show that you want it and it’s worth it to you as much as it is to your SO. That’s what makes the days you’re together matter; you know that you’ve fought for them.