If you’re in a serious relationship, there’s no reason to call it quits just because the two of you are heading to college. While the collegiate years certainly bring about many challenges for a couple who goes to different schools that are located far from each other, it’s certainly not impossible for their long-distance relationship to work. Open and honest communication before you leave each other, and throughout the school year, will help you to navigate the unchartered waters of being in a long-distance relationship while in college, whether or not you ultimately end up together, explains Wendi L. Dumbroff, a licensed professional counselor.
Here, she and other relationship experts share their best tips for how to survive a long-distance relationship during your college years.
Talk about your intentions before heading off to school.
It’s important to discuss with your partner how you’re feeling about managing a long-distance relationship, ideally before the school year begins. “Just as adult couples need to discuss their relationships, and create boundaries around what is and isn’t okay for them, these older adolescents and young adults also need to be open with each other about these issues,” says Dumbroff. “If a young couple can find the courage to be honest with each other, and have a discussion about the reality of their situation, they may be able to negotiate guidelines to help them navigate their new social terrains in separate locations.”
Be supportive as possible of each other’s endeavors.
When you’re missing your significant other so much and wishing you were by his or her side, it can be hard to see them becoming so distracted by so many other things aside from you. But remember that college is a time for exploration and development. Rather than hinder each other’s development, try your hardest to support it as much as possible. “This is important because couples that can stand the test of time learn how to be individuals, as well as how to share those individual achievement with each other,” says Dawn Michael, Ph.D., a relationship expert.
Create a realistic schedule for when you’ll see each other.
If you’re going to school only a few hours’ drive from each other, it’s not unrealistic to anticipate seeing each other once every two weeks or so, but if you’re going to school across the country or, gasp, world, from each other, that’s a much different story. No matter the distance, Dr. Michael urges long-distance couples to schedule their visiting dates as far in advance as possible. “This will alleviate much of the guesswork that often causes fighting and misunderstanding,” she says. “It also shows that you can and want to make time for each other.”
Continue to figure out your own life’s purpose.
Just because you’re in a serious long-distance relationship, which naturally takes up a great deal of your time and energy, is no excuse not to focus on yourself the way you should during your college years. “This means that you stay connected to your life mission and life goals that are important for you, with or without the relationship,” explains Audrey Hope, celebrity relationship expert in Los Angeles, California. “This life commitment to a purpose is the foundation of you, no matter what happens—it is the foundation on which you must rest and your partner will respect you for it.”