I met my boyfriend the summer after my sophomore year of college. I was unpacking, ready and excited to be back in Jersey for the summer; he was just rounding out his first year of post-grad – already settled into being back in our hometown.

He lived five minutes away from me, and we were pretty much inseparable all summer. When I moved back to Pennsylvania to start my junior year, it took some serious adjustment – after three months of being a stone throw away from each other, the distance between us felt unbearable.

Two and half hours of distance isn’t very long, but when you’re used to seeing each other every day, it can feel like an ocean.

If you’re heading off to college this year or moving away from your SO, don’t be afraid. Long distance relationships can be a positive and enlightening experience for you and your partner.

Here are some things that we did to keep the spark alive in our long(ish) distance relationship.

1. Schedule time to talk each day

In college I was a part of several different on-campus organizations – a sorority, the dance team, theatre, and the cinema club to name a few – I often took 4 to 5 classes, went to the gym three to four times a week, and obviously had school work to do.

At one point he was working two jobs – one that required him to be up in the wee hours of the morning and another that had him out until late in the evening.

But every night before one of us went to sleep, we spoke on the phone. Sometimes our calls were just a quick check in and goodnight while other times we made sure we each had time to tell the other about our days.

I never felt particularly anxious or upset if we couldn’t talk much during the day because we always got to talk at night. It helped to have a set time that I could hear his voice – both for my comfort and to check in to make sure that he was okay.

2. Schedule visits

This is a big one. Even if your visits can’t be very often, your partner will appreciate you traveling to see them even once.

If you have any particularly important events coming up that you would like your partner there for, give them the dates well in advance. In college, I had formals, dance recitals, and plays that I wanted my boyfriend to see.

I would make sure I got the date as soon as I could so that he could try to get the day off and watch me perform or come as my date. Set time aside every few weeks or every few months to see your partner if you can.

3. Skype

If you can’t see your partner for financial reasons, make an effort to use an application like Skype or FaceTime. Like phone calls, schedule a time during the week when you’re both not busy to speak.

My boyfriend and I skyped every Sunday after I finished my meeting for the day. It was nice to see his face, even if it was through my computer screen.

4. Get to know your partner’s schedule

This is particularly helpful if you’re in college. Know when your SO is in class or at work.
This is helpful for two reasons:

  1. If you’re not getting an answer from them, you’ll know why and you won’t be left feeling anxious or worried for their safety and
  2. you’ll be able to match schedules and pick times throughout the day to stay in contact.

5. Find a show (and watch it together – or apart)

My boyfriend and I love to watch Netflix – if you’re like us, you can use an app called Showgoers (that’s available on Google Chrome.)

It allows you to watch Netflix with your friends and chat while you watch in a little chat box beside the screen. We used this a lot during my senior year and binged the show 13 Reason Why together.

There are several applications that you can use if you can’t download Showgoers. For shows that weren’t on Netflix, we would each try to watch the latest episode by our Sunday Skype time and spend the time talking about the episode. This automatically gave us something to talk about when we spoke on Sunday.

6. Talk about your feelings

When you do not see each other often, it’s easy to feel unsure or insecure about your relationship. As I said, it’s normal to feel unsure or insecure in any relationship.

Be sure that you’re discussing these feelings with your SO and most importantly be cognizant of your partner’s feelings.

That said, it’s also important to remember to remind your significant other how you feel about them – it makes them feel appreciated and can serve as a reminder to yourself of why you’re with your SO.

An ‘I love you’ or a text telling your partner that you’re thinking of them goes a long way. Even sending them a picture or video that you think they’d like helps.

Two years later and I can sincerely say that spending that time apart – though difficult at times – made us stronger.

It’s important to remember that fostering a long distance relationship is hard work – it takes dedication and a mutual understanding.

It might not be perfect all of the time – just like any relationship, but with effort, your relationship can flourish.

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