Surviving a Long Distance Relationship

3 Ways to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship in College

When you’ve had the most magical high school relationship or summer fling, the idea of separating to attend your respective colleges can feel grim. What if one of you meets someone new on campus? Or worse—what if you go strong until Thanksgiving only to become one of the many couples who part ways during their first school break?!

1. Talk about your relationship boundaries before you leave each other.
Although you may want to spend the remainder of your summer having fun and savoring your time together, it’s smart to talk about the difficult things before they creep up on you both.

“[It’s] a great opportunity to openly and comfortably talk about the new rules you may want to establish,” says Dr. Mariana Bockarova, Ph.D., who teaches relationship psychology at the University of Toronto, of parting ways for college. She sees this crossroads as a growth opportunity for young couples.

Some guidelines may be explicit—i.e., cheating is unacceptable—while others—i.e., how often it’s cool to text each other—may need to be ironed out, she says.

Dr. Bockarova also recommends discussing how often you’d like to call or visit each other, and clarifying any blurry boundaries, like what, in your opinion, constitutes cheating. Otherwise, she says, you risk hurting each others’ feelings.

2. Brainstorm ways to make each other feel loved.
To be romantic and spontaneous when you’re far away from each other, you’ll need to think outside the box—or, if you’re sending a care package, inside of it. And it’s never too early to start planning fun ways to make your partner’s day.

“The healthiest intimate relationships are defined by characteristics like knowledge–meaning knowing what’s going on in your partner’s life,” Dr. Bockarova says. Mailing small gifts you know they’ll love, sending “just thinking of you” texts, or planning a “movie night” where you sync up Netflix and watch the same movie are all little ways to feel more present in each others’ lives.

3. Nail down your long-distance sex plan.
“Some couples prefer to only engage in sexual acts when they are physically together, while others prefer more creative means like sexting or dirty talk,” Dr. Bockarova says. That said, you might be on a slightly different page than your partner: One of you may be dying to test-drive some Bluetooth-controlled sex toys while the other is fine with texting the occasional eggplant emoji.

As awkward as it can feel initially, ask your partner if there are things they’d like to try when you’re apart, Dr. Bockrova suggests. And once you’re separated, let your partner know if your needs aren’t being met. “If you don’t address what’s bothering you, sexually or otherwise, assumptions are made which lead to disagreements and resentment,” she says. So talk it out now—and keep the conversation going when you’re apart.

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