I figure there are a lot of people trying to handle this problem right now. Whether you go to the same college and have to spend summers apart, or live near each other but go to school far away, I wanted to share what I’ve learned in a year of long-distance love in case it helps someone.
1. Communicate deeply and regularly (for more specifics to do this, see 4 and 5)
- This is the most important tip I can give. Issues which could cause tension can be simply resolved through good communication. For example, last semester both of were flirted with and in some cases asked out by classmates and because we told each other (and laughed about it) a potential relationship issue was resolved without conflict. Also, if you are feeling lonely, hurt, happy or passionate, share it. It will help your partner stay emotionally involved in your life.
2. Find cost effective ways to stay involved in each other’s lives
- Sending postcards
- Hiding tiny toys in each other’s stuff/mailing each other tiny toys (if you’re relationship is that silly)
- Introduce each other to friends and room mates over Skype
- Visit each other’s college campuses
- In general you want to remind the other that they are in your thoughts through your gifts. This can be done in many tiny ways, which may be more effective than in 1 or 2 big ways (love letters every week vs 2 bunches of roses a semester).
3. Be sweet and kind to each other
- College and missing each other is can be really tough emotionally. When each of you is surrounded by strangers who do not know you, what you may need most is a kind friend to sound off on.
4. Find a way to see each other virtually (part of regular communication)
- Using Skype
- Using Adium (for Macs), Spark (OS agnostic), Jabber (Windows only)
- NOTE: as I am writing this during Matt and my noon call, I wanted to point out that regular communication doesn’t have to be a laundry list of the day’s activities. We often have activities we do during calls to keep involved in each other’s lives. For example, for about a month we spent 15 minutes of each evening call looking at Lolcats and giggling. A different week of calls we spent casting George RR Martin’s epic series with current actors. Tonight we may take Myers-Briggs tests together for fun. Nothing expensive, nothing heavy, just silly stuff to do as a couple.
5. Find a way to see each other physically with regularity
- If you are within a 12 hour trip, you can see each other through a multitude of ground resources. I love Amtrak, can tolerate Greyhound, and don’t drive but that is an option for some people. This can be cost effective–round-trip to Washington DC from Pittsburgh is $79 on Amtrak, usually $65 on Greyhound. With the cost of gas and car up keep, the car may cost something comparable.(My tolerance for ground travel tops out at about 12 hours, yours might be more or less)
- If you two are farther apart, your options are more severely limited by your finances. But you still have cost effective options. You can sly to see each other Thanksgiving, school breaks, Holiday breaks and summers. With careful planning, these occasions can be very special–and in between, you can keep the relationship going strong through Skype and IM clients (not to mention silly little gifts).
Anyway, there are many ways to handle long distance relationships but these are the best ideas I could put together today.
“In order to get out of car, open door, get out, lock doors, and then close doors.” — In a car manual.