Long-distance relationships can be hard to maintain when at college, but with effective techniques these relationships need be no more difficult than any other.[map]
College often takes us far away from our homes, families, friends and significant others. Relationships you had in high school where you saw your boyfriend/girlfriend everyday in and out of school, suddenly seem too hard to manage when one of you decides to go to a college far away from the other. Or perhaps you meet someone really great but they are from out-of-state or are leaving for an internship or a study abroad program soon.
These scenarios happen often among younger couples and in college atmospheres. Danielle Heming and Grr Hills found themselves facing a long-distance relationship after only being together for a short amount of time. Heming moved to London, England after graduating to pursue an internship opportunity in the film industry while Hills remained in Lansing.
“It is more difficult being in a long-distance relationship because you miss the presence of the person,” Hills said. “You feel separated from them and have to live with an idea as opposed to a person.”
Many people do associate long-distance relationships with being harder than other relationships. They are viewed as more frustrating, lonely and as being very hard. Though these associations are not necessarily wrong, long-distance relationships can be both healthy and happy when both partners come to some important agreements.
Andre Cross, relationship correspondent for AskMen.com agrees that couples must decide what they want when faced with a long distance relationship in his article, “Long-Distance Relationships.”
“The couple must agree on how they will deal with this separation, and even if they will remain a couple at all,” he said.
It is okay to decide that you do not want a long-distance relationship and to end things because of that alone. Making this decision early is better than not being absolutely sure you want to try long-distance and having things end up things badly with hurt feelings and resentment.
However, if both partners do decide they want to try to make it work there are some important things they should keep in mind. The Counseling Center at the University of Missouri-Rolla gives some helpful advice on their website.
The most important factor to keep in mind is open channels of communication. “It is important for both parties to be able to feel that if they need to talk or write to the other person, communication will be welcomed and met with active communication from the other,” the site states. “The quality of the relationship is more likely to increase if both people develop the ability to share feelings openly with each other.
Heming agrees that communication is key to keeping her relationship strong. “When in a long-distance relationship all you have are words,” she said. “There is no time to be physical together so you can’t try to understand one another through body language. All you have is what you honestly tell one another.”
Commitment and trust are also important to consider for a long distance relationship to remain healthy. Both parties within this type of relationship may feel more vulnerable than they would be closer together. Having an understanding as to each other’s degree of commitment within the relationship helps to establish a solid base.
Much like commitment, if both partners do not trust one another then the base of the relationship is not solid.
The Counseling Center agrees that commitment is important to decide within a relationship. Their website states, “Each will trust that the other person’s social life in his or her own town will not be a threat to the relationship. Trust is so important that if it isn’t strong, you can make a conscious effort to work on it, both on your own and together.”
Besides having a strong communications, commitment and trust base, there are things each partner can do individually to help him or her avoid loneliness and frustration. Keeping yourself busy with school, extra curricular activities, volunteering and most importantly surrounding yourself with supportive people and places are also ways to stay strong.
Hills finds that friends who are supportive are essential to help remind him that the work of a long-distance relationship is worth it.
“Having people rooting for you is important especially if they are people who have seen the couple together,” he said. “If they support your relationship and you can see it from other people’s perspectives that it is a good thing then it make you want to keep going.”
The Counseling Center at the University of Missouri-Rolla encourages people to engage in hobbies, go to student lounges to watch TV with people around and let out your emotions. Cry when you need to cry, laugh when you need to laugh. If you feel as though you are beginning to become depressed in trying to cope, seek out professional help with a counselor at the Michigan State University Counseling Center by calling (517) 355-8270.
“As if relationships weren’t complicated enough, having them across a long distance is extremely challenging,” their website states. “However, throughout time couples have had to be miles apart, and have been able to maintain a solid, happy, successful relationship until they could be together again.”

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