When Mike* and I started dating, I knew it was going to be hard. My freshman year of college I had dated around, but never found anyone who I was seriously interested in. I decided to move off campus sophomore year, because I didn’t want to go home over the summer. I loved West Chester, and was determined to forget all about my small rinky-dink home town. There was nothing there for me there anyway, except my family, of course. I decided to visit home around July, for my birthday. My old boss asked me to pick up a shift at the restaurant where I worked in high school, so I did. And guess who was working? Mike my high school “thing.” We had never dated, and our “thing” was very short- lived. But I was heartbroken when we ended, and had always wondered “What if?” Well, I guess he was wondering the same thing. Long story short, our nine month anniversary is on April 21.
My friends joke and say how lucky I am, that I don’t have to deal with him all the time, that I don’t have to fit him in my schedule on top of clubs and schoolwork, that I don’t have to shave every day, etc. The funny thing is though, I do have all of those problems, and more! I may not have to physically deal with him, but we text throughout most of the day, which can get distracting- just as much as if he were actually there next to me. We talk on the phone and/or Skype ever night. Sometimes I’ll prop my computer on my nightstand and leave Skype on all night! What I’m the most jealous about is that I don’t get to spend an hour at night cuddling on the couch, or just sitting there doing homework together- just BEING together is what I am jealous of.
So, here is some advice for all you long distance couples just starting off, first hand experienced by yours truly.
1. Make time for each other every day.
Because you are not physically seeing each other every day, this is, in my opinion, even more important than in non- long distance relationships. Send that “Good morning, have a good day” text. This lets him or her know that you are thinking of them. Mike calls me every morning before he has to go to work to 1) make sure I am up as well and 2) say good morning in person. Like I said, we text as much as we can throughout the day, which is hard with class and work. Sometimes, I’ll sneak in a five minute call during his lunch break when I’m rushing to my next class, just to hear his voice instead of read his words. At night, we usually Skype. I’ll sit and do my homework with the computer on the table, and he’ll play Call of Duty. When we need to say something, we do. It’s ALMOST as good as being there in person!
2. Don’t take everything personally.
The day or two before Mike comes here or I go home are the days we fight the most. We’re frustrated because we’re so close to seeing each other, but still have another whole day or two of class, work, homework, etc.; and then a three hour drive on top of that. I’ve learned to not take anything personal that is said during this time. People say things they don’t mean when frustrated. If your partner thinks it is a direct attack on them, this leads to a pissed off girlfriend/boyfriend upon your arrival, which is the exact opposite of how it should be!
3. Schedule time to have important talks.
Sometimes, something your partner does may upset you. It is very important to address the problem immediately, to prevent it from becoming a habit, but there are certain times to have these kinds of talks. Right before bed after a long day is not one of them. Neither is texting them when you have to go through the whole day before you can talk together on the phone. Try and schedule these talks on nights when you have time to devote yourself to the conversation, not half listening/ half doing homework. Also, if at all possible, have these talks when you’re apart. When you only have a weekend together once every three weeks, the last thing you want to do is spend it fighting/serious talking.
4. Remember to include friends on your weekends together.
I was guilty of this when we first started dating. When we only had two days out of 20 together, I did not want to share him! However, it is important to introduce each other to each of your separate friends groups. Jealousy can easily arise from either party, especially because of new friends of the opposite sex, So it is important to have your friends meet your significant other so they can put names to a face, and not instantly get mad when you say you can’t talk because you’re hanging out with so and so. It is also important to introduce your friends and significant other because you want them to be friends too. This makes hanging out much less awkward, when your significant other is friends with your friends.
5. Travel evenly.
Mike and I are three hours apart, which is a long drive for a weekend. To break it up, we usually do every other weekend, or every other weekend that we see each other. Sometimes, when I have a lot of school work one weekend and can’t afford to spend the six hours total in the car, Mike will come down two weeks in a row, and then I would reciprocate. This is a big one though, to avoid one partner form feeling like they are doing all the work!
Long distance relationships are truly a balancing act. While it may seem difficult at first, it gets better with practice, I promise! If you love someone enough, together you can overcome anything.
Ashley Cantasano is a second-year student majoring in Communication Studies. She can be reached at AC784683@wcupa.edu.