By Kaytee Lozier
For many college students, the pressure to find a significant other can be like finding a job after graduation: you want someone you like, someone you’ll succeed with, someone you’ll stick with for a long time and stay happy with. Even though you have all the time in the world to find it, you’d feel better if you just found it now.
But if you are lucky enough to find that special someone in college, what happens when choices of career, monetary issues, or leaving your partner back at school turns your rockin’ relationship into one of the dreaded long-distance variety? Of course, in this day and age it’s easier than ever to keep in touch. Do communication methods like text messaging, video chat, AIM and Facebook work to lessen the long distance blues? Or is there something about those things you can’t get from a distance- those loving glances, post-fight kisses, and intense pillow fights- that make a couple last the test of time? If your heart is set on making that long-distance relationship work, here are some tips:
1.Don’t smother your significant other. When you first start your long-distance relationship, you might want to talk to your guy/girl every chance you get, and they might be just as into it as you are, but circumstances may change as the relationship progresses. Certified relationship coach Toni Coleman says to watch out for signals that you might be going overboard, like if your partner answers your calls less often, keeps conversations short, or tells you that they are tired, busy or unable to talk as often. “Paying attention to what they don’t say will be as important as hearing what they do say,” Coleman said. “If one of the individuals wants more contact than they are getting, they should see if a comfortable compromise can be reached.” If you feel that you are the one being smothered, tell them. They might not know that they are being too clingy, or they might be feeling insecure about the relationship.
2.Be honest and open with your partner about everything. Lying to yourself or your significant other about something that is bothering you will only prolong the inevitable. Since you can’t get a physical sense of how you both are feeling, it is important to have open communication and to understand the frustrations your partner might be going through. “If the distance feels to much for one or both of the individuals, they need to address this as soon as possible,” Coleman said. “This should lead them to an honest discussion concerning their ability to handle the separation and loneliness that can come with it. Together they should explore options, and assess if they want the relationship enough to consider alternating the plan.” Your partner might want a more open relationship, and in that case you need to decide if you are willing to sacrifice what you want to make the relationship work.
3.Plan for the future. One of the most important things to have in a long distance relationship is a sense of when the distance gap will close again. It helps to have a grasp on when you will physically be together more permanently. “You have to keep asking yourself if the benefits you get from the relationship are worth the stress that the distance creates,” Penelope Trunk, Boston Globe columnist, said. “You also need to know there is an end in sight.” Try bringing up the future in one of your late night phone conversations. If he/she seems hesitant to discuss, it might be time to rethink things.
4.Make sure the effort to see each other in person is equal on both sides. If you are the only one who goes out of your way to visit your partner, it could mean you feel more seriously about the relationship. Ask your partner to come and see you. If he/she makes up excuses every time, it might be time to have one of those honest and open conversations recommended in tip number 2.
5.Use your instinct. If you find that you are having trouble trusting your partner, or you feel a sense of jealousy every time he or she brings up a person of the opposite sex’s name, then something needs to change regardless of whether your suspicions hold water. Before you go straight to the blame-game, recognize that it could all be in your head. Tell your partner how you feel and why, and together you can come up with a sensible solution.
While these tips are not necessarily fail-safe, they will certainly increase your capability of keeping a long-distance relationship healthy and happy. Every relationship is a two-way street full of miscommunications and disagreements, but you have to be prepared to work twice as hard at fixing these when you can’t just hold your significant other in your arms after a fight. If your college sweetheart makes you that happy, it might be worth the battle.
1) What is the most difficult thing to deal with in a long-distance relationship?
a. Sexual frustration (21%)
b. Trusting your partner (26%)
c. Feeling detached from their life (46%)
d. Talking about the future (7%)
2) Would you feel less guilty flirting with people if you were in a long-distance relationship?
a. Yes (40%)
b. No )60%)
3) Do you think it is more difficult to trust your partner in a long-distance relationship if they are at college?
a. Yes (77%)
b. No (23%)
4) What is the most important thing to do to make a long-distance relationship work?
a. Be honest and open (53%)
b. Be in constant communication (20%)
c. Give your significant other their space (9%)
d. Visit each other as often as possible (18%)
5) Do you think phone/cyber sex with your partner is healthy in a long-distance relationship?
a. Yes (69%)
b. No (31%)
6) Do you think anyone can make a long-distance relationship work?
a. Yes (59%)
b. No (41%)
Interesting Gender Differences:
Only 12% of girls said that sexual frustration was the most difficult thing to deal with in a long-distance relationship, while 30% of guys did. Also, 62% of girls thought anyone could make a long-distance relationship work, while only 56% of guys did. 86% of guys think it’s difficult to trust your partner if they are at college still, while only 68% of girls thought that way.