I'll be honest, at 18, I was staunchly against the idea of continuing high school relationships into college. Was I in a relationship at the time? Of course not! Did I lecture my coupled-up friends at length about the benefits of heading to college untethered? Absolutely! "You're already going to a different college than your boyfriend," I'd explain. "You should just cut all ties and move on." It was ridiculous for a variety of reasons.
One: What the hell did I know? I was 18, had just gotten dumped for the first time, and was entering into my first-ever "Men are monsters and we don't need them" phase. Two: My sister and now brother-in-law were high school sweethearts who did a brilliant job of maintaining their relationship from different colleges. So brilliant, in fact, that they got married a few years after commencement and now have a (SUPER CUTE) son together.
The point is, High School Genevieve had no idea what she was talking about when she hopped up on a soapbox and screamed about how insane it was to try and make a relationship work when you're at different colleges. But you know who does know what they're talking about? All of the women quoted below. Because they've been there, done that, and understand exactly what it takes to make it work.
So, here are five ladies' top tips for managing a relationship when you and your SO are headed to different colleges. Take it from the pros.
I know this isn't very inspirational advice, but if you're on the fence about keeping things going or not, just don't. Honestly, even if you are totally sure that this is the person you want to end up with, I would still say take a semester or a year to do your own things, not talk, and then circle back and say, 'OK, we had our fun, but you're definitely who I want to be with.'
Long-distance is really hard, especially when you're a freshman in college. My ex-boyfriend's school was just a few hours away, so we never went more than a month without seeing each other, but I started to resent him after a while. I wanted to be able to socialize and make new friends without feeling guilty or stressing about giving someone the wrong signal. I avoided guys at parties, and I always wondered if my boyfriend was doing the same thing. It added a lot of unnecessary stress to what should have just been a stress-free time, and we broke up sophomore year anyway (turns out he wasn't as great at avoiding temptation as I was).
We text back and forth all day, every day. We spend as much time on Skype as we can with each other while we're studying, eating, hanging out. Skype sex and sexting helps, although it's certainly no substitute for the real thing. Right now I see him two times a year because we're both in school and airfare is expensive. That would be completely unbearable if we didn't have an end date, which is next year after he finishes his degree.
Mostly we watch shows and movies together because that's the easiest thing. We used to send each other care packages until it got kind of expensive and I realized that receiving gifts isn't very important to him. Sometimes to change things up we'll do multiplayer games on Steam or games like Fun Run 2/trivia competitions on our phones.
We both value physical affection very, very much, so it's not like any of this LDR stuff is easy for either of us, but I get through it because I know that there's an end date, and because we both have unshakeable faith in our commitment to each other and the future we want to build together.
Also, it helps that he's an introverted homebody programming nerd and I'm an introverted homebody med student so neither of us have the time or inclination to f*ck around.
Have a conversation about what you're comfortable with, and what your expectations or parameters are in advance. Going to parties? Great, cool. Spending the night in a rando's dorm room? Less cool.
We used to have a phone date every night. It was back when minutes were free after 9 p.m. and I had a phone alarm every night at 9 p.m. to call him and that was our phone date. It was an old ringtone, but when I hear it, it still makes me feel all butterfly-y.
One of the tricks is, no matter what, make sure you're building in time for each other. If you're in different places, you still want to talk about the minutiae of your day, so you know about everything that's going on. I don't know that anyone would have predicted that our nightly phone dates would end in marriage, but I also don't think they would be surprised.
—Katie (my sister!), 32
*Names have been changed. Quotes may be edited or condensed for clarity.