Going the distance with relationships in college

Going the distance with relationships in college

By Simran Devidasani

Scrolling through the Illini Crushes & Confessions Facebook page, one post stood out to me — “Shout out to all the people in a long distance relationship. Whether you’re a couple miles away or 10 thousand miles away, kudos to you for staying committed. True love conquers all.” 

I then proceeded to pat myself on the back for my relationship of over two years.

The summer before college started, everyone asked me that one crucial question, “are you guys going to stay together in college or break up?”

When I told them that we were planning to stay together, everyone erupted in “aw’s,” but warned me that long-distance relationships usually don’t end too well.

And while it’s only been a little over a semester into college, I can proudly debunk the myth that long-distance relationships don’t work.

But unlike in high school where you just stay in a relationship because your worlds are more connected, there’s a lot more effort and planning involved in long-distance relationships.

The first step to committing to the relationship is mental preparation. According to West Virginia Student’s Center of Health, there are many crucial questions you and your partner need to answer before stepping into this situation: What are your expectations from the relationship? Are you the jealous type? How will you keep in touch? 

While it may seem easy to answer such questions, it takes honest thinking and answers from both sides.

Over the summer, my boyfriend and I had conversations about our expectations from each other, limits as to opposite-gender interaction and our long-term plan.  What did we agree on? 

We discovered that we’re willing to make it work, because neither of us had interest in exploring other potential relationships in college or fulfilling the stereotypical college “hook-up” lifestyle. 

Being open about our thoughts and preferences helped us figure out what we wanted from this relationship, which was simply to try to make it work.

Of course, making promises are easier than actually carrying them out. Because of this, communication is key.

With everything new in college such as adjusting to an independent lifestyle, classes and even different time zones may pose a challenge. While it was easier back home to just call or meet up with your significant other, in college, we’re constantly faced with new opportunities.  

Because of wanting to experience everything that is new, we get carried away and may forget to keep in touch with our other half. According to eharmony, however, using technology and keeping in touch is important in maintaining the long-distance relationship — without being overbearing, of course.  

How do my boyfriend and I keep in touch? 

Firstly, by adjusting to each other’s availability and scheduling times to talk. We decided that Friday nights were our day off from each other to leave time for socializing. Interestingly, even though we came up with this schedule, we ended up talking sporadically based on both our availability and moods, but at least the schedule set up a promise to keep in touch. We’re even going to try mailing letters to each other once and a while to mix things up. 

In all honesty, though, it comes down to the effort you put in and the drive to make the relationship work. If, at the end of the day, you don’t want the relationship to work, you’ll find excuses to break up. But if you mentally prepare yourself to have certain limitations because of your relationship, it can work.

According to the University of Illinois Counseling Center, there are many new concerns that come into play when one does a long-distance relationship, such as money problems, communication break downs and flexibility of roles. In other words, you may want your other half to come visit you, but they may be thousands of miles away, which leads to the issue of spending. The best communication is done in person, so there can be many miscommunications through a virtual connection. It comes down to both of you understanding and having patience. With my boyfriend, I’ve missed a few promised video chats, but he understood that being in college, anything can come up at any minute. 

Relationships are a social experience in the end. We’re constantly trying to mingle — whether in high school or in college. While it’s true that college changes you, even socially, being in a long-distance relationship isn’t a burden on that change, but rather, a helpful hand. 

Being in this type of relationship teaches you patience and determination.

Ultimately, long-distance relationships are what you make of it. Situations can be difficult, but it’s up to you to rise to the challenge. 

And trust me, there’s nothing quite like seeing your significant other after months of waiting.

Simran is a freshman in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]