Ten ways to survive a long-distance relationship

Helpful tips for dealing with a long-distance love

WRITTEN BY: Janelle Vreeland
Ten ways to survive a long-distance relationship

Whether your high school girlfriend is going to the college two states away, or your new boyfriend just got called to his second tour of duty in Iraq, those who know the perils of long distance love will tell you it's a struggle. But those who have made it through the perils will also tell you it's definitely worth it. Here are a few ways you can help your love survive the miles.

Be honest with yourself.

How serious are you about this person? Are you the type to really commit and stay committed, even when you are faced with a myriad of temptations? A college campus can be soaked in alcohol and fraught with parties whose sole existence is to get people to wear less clothing. You need to be sure that you can make a go of it honestly.

Trust.

You have to let each other make friends, have lives, and live freely even if you can't be there to witness every moment of it. Trusting your partner in this new and major way is a great example of how a long distance relationship can make you two even stronger. If you can get through this, you can get through anything.

Frequent communication is key.

Hello, texting! You can do this all day long, despite oceans, freeways, and whatever mountain ranges divide the two of you. Webcams, Skype, social networking sites, and the good old fashioned telephone are essential tools to help you stay connected. It's that every day connection, the sense that you know who he is talking about when he brings up the crazy guy in his drama class who wears overalls and no shirt to school, that's what is going to keep you close.

Rethink your situation.

I have a good friend who, after trying to go to a school five hours away from her boyfriend, is actually considering transferring. Now, there are definitely other reasons that influenced her decision - she's not crazy about her current school, she has a good chance of making the other school's track team, and it's equally close to her parent's place, but being closer to him is a big factor. Whatever benefits caused her to choose her current school are no longer worth the sacrifice of losing time with her boyfriend. If the long distance thing isn't working, maybe you should think about how important this person is to you. See if you might be willing to make a big change in order to be with them. 

Have something to look forward to.

Count down to the next time you get to see each other. Instead of thinking, "I have to get through two more years of this," think, "I only have two more weeks until our winter break visit!" It's about creating something good to anticipate. 

Show your love.

When you don't have the intimacy that day-to-day and face-to-face life creates, you have to find a way to create intimacy in your own way. Tell the other person how you feel in as many ways as you can. Send care packages. Write love letters. Dedicate a song to them on one of those cheesy radio shows. Do whatever you can to get your message across; you may find a romantic side you never knew you had.

Know that it’s not permanent.

Unless you are in some sort of Back to the Future III"-like relationship where your girlfriend is in 1885 and you are here in 2008, you are probably going to be physically together in the same space at some point again. If you can just endure the pain of separation for a finite amount of time, your reward may be huge. You know, I think Doc actually did get together with his 1885 true love, via time-traveling flying train. So, there's that.   

Get creative.

I had an old friend whose girlfriend went to study abroad in Spain. They knew they would have to withstand three months apart. In order to soften the daily blow, she handed him a 90-page stack of papers before getting on the plane. They were attached by two binder rings which he hooked to the top of his bunk. The papers would hang down over him and each day, he was supposed to flip to the next page. I'm not sure what she wrote, but I imagine each day was a message just for him. It was very sweet, and very creative, and a way to get to his heart every morning.

Keep something of theirs close.

 I am not to embarrassed to admit that I did indeed sleep with a jean (yeah, I said jean) jacket belonging to my 9th grade boyfriend because it smelled exactly like his cologne, which I'm pretty sure was something like Tommy Boy. The point is that you can keep something of theirs to help you feel like they are not so far away. Sleep in his T-shirt, put her picture somewhere you will see it right when you wake up, do what you can to make them feel close. To this day, whenever I travel, I always bring a T-shirt that smells like my guy. He's a chef, so that smell is usually cologne mixed with the slightest hint of filet. Still, it's a reminder.

Construct a time-traveling, flying train.

Okay, I just wanted to reference "Back to the Future III" one more time in this article. Seriously, though, you should get to know his or her "world." Even one visit to your boyfriend or girlfriend's campus or town can give you context. When she says she's going to the Irish pub down the block, you will be able to picture the Guinness posters clearly. You can feel a little bit like you are there with her, even when you are not.

Long distance love isn't all bad, you get the luxury of missing each other, and reunion make-out sessions! The best thing about a long distance relationship is that if both of you want to make it work – you will. If the relationship is the real deal, it will withstand everything – even miles between you.

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