Contrary to popular belief, being single at university is not the be all and end all, and (shock horror) some of us even manage to have a whale of a time at university, whilst in a relationship with someone far away. But, it is undoubtedly difficult at times. You know what it’s like in Freshers’ Week – you tell someone that you’re in a relationship, that it’s long distance – and watch their face gradually shift through the emotions of surprise, misunderstanding and then pity.
Fear not! Long distance relationships are by no means the end of the world and being in one doesn’t lessen your university experience in anyway, but it does take some effort, lonely nights and quite a lot of planning.*
So let’s get this one out the way, if you’re in a long distance relationship that you want to give your all, you’re going to spend lots of time planning. Planning when you’ll see each other next, what train you’ll get or when you’re going to FaceTime are all things that not only need to be sorted a little in advance, but will also keep you sane by knowing when they’re next going to happen. Planning to make time for each other can be really important, and there are tons of ways to make you feel like the distance is smaller such as Skyping, watching a Netflix show at the same time or playing games together on your phone.
This seems obvious, but I’m not just talking about remembering to speak to each other. This is obviously important, and scheduling times to Skype, texts throughout the day, and keeping each other in the loop with your day to day activities are sure fire ways to stop the pang of missing each other so much. But the real essence of communication is being open with each other. That means the good and the bad emotions, if you’re having a bad day, or if you’re annoyed at each other there’s absolutely no benefit to holding it in. Little obstacles can become big problems when you’re apart, so try to not let it get to that point by communicating your concerns.
This is the biggie. Long distance relationships are never going to work if you don’t trust each other. If you’re a naturally jealous person (speaking from experience), it’s going to be a challenge, but you have to remember that you’ve both decided to do this and if you didn’t want to, then you wouldn’t be together. Scrutinising and second guessing everything they say and do will only make it harder for the both of you.
4. Appreciate your time apart
Being in a long distance relationship means you will never become just an extension of each other, you’ll both have to be independent and do your own things. When you’re at university, there are so many opportunities to take advantage of, and so many new friends to be made! Whilst you’ll be missing your boyfriend/girlfriend terribly, sometimes it can be nice to know that you’re both having unique experiences and not just spending all your time together. Having your independence means you’ll have tons to discuss with each other and will teach you that you don’t need each other, but you want each other – and that’s what makes you stronger.
5. Don’t keep score
Timetables, social life, part-time jobs and the like, are all things which can get in the way of dedicating time to your boyfriend/girlfriend. One of you might find you visit them 10 times more than they come to you. Equally they might text and be romantic 100 times more than you do. It’s important to not keep score of who’s doing what, as essentially you’re both doing what you can to get through your time apart.
6. Get Busy!
Nothing makes the distance stretch further or the time stretch longer as much as wallowing does. Speaking as a lazy person, there’s nothing worse than having a thoroughly unproductive day coupled with missing your boyfriend. Getting out and doing stuff (whether that’s throwing yourself into lectures, joining lots of societies or doing mundane tasks like food shopping and cleaning) makes time go infinitely quicker, meaning the time until you see you boyfriend/girlfriend should whiz by (hopefully).
7. Appreciate that your relationship is more than physical
Undoubtedly, weeks of not seeing your other half whilst all your flat mates are hooking up with people left, right and centre can be a bit daunting at the least, and incredibly frustrating! There’s no quick cure to this one, just that being apart from your boyfriend/girlfriend will teach you that your relationship isn’t just based on convenience or physical contact, but rather your attraction to each other’s personalities.
8. Don’t let other people’s perceptions put you down
There’s the common misconception that if you’re in any relationship at university, let alone a long distance one, then you’re missing out. Don’t let other people’s opinions intrude on your feelings for your loved one, after all, you’re doing this because you want to, not for anyone else’s validation.
9. Be clear about what you expect from each other
It’s going to be difficult to maintain your relationship if you’re both reading from different rulebooks. Make sure you know what you expect of each other, that you’re both on the same level of commitment. Be open about what you both want so that you’re both on the same page.
10. Stay Positive
A big cheesy one to round off. This is easier said than done, but when it gets really tough try to focus on how great it will be the next time you see each other, and all the reasons you want to do this.
A long distance relationship isn’t for the faint hearted but if you’re both committed, the ability to live without each other can make your relationship infinitely stronger. Good luck!
*Disclaimer: I’m by no means promising these things will make your long distance relationship a breeze (in the depths of despair I’d find it hard to follow my own advice here), but they are something to try and remind yourself of when the distance is getting the better of you.