There's no denying that long-distance relationships take work. And when you're balancing classes, extracurricular activities, and a whole new set of friends, trying to maintain a long-distance relationship in college can be truly tough on both you and your partner. That's not to say it's impossible, of course. There are plenty of effective strategies for sustaining a LDR when you and your partner are at different schools. With enough patience and determination, you can not only keep your relationship going strong, but ensure that you and your partner are happier and healthier than ever — both together and apart.
If you put all your energy into your relationship, you may feel like you're missing out on your college experience. But if you don't make it a goal to communicate with your S.O. on a regular basis, the distance may become too much. The key to helping your LDR thrive is equilibrium. Whether it's striking the perfect balance between being independent and growing as a couple, or filling your partner in on your day while also finding the time to study for your midterm, it's important to make space in your life for all of your priorities: school, hobbies, friends, family, and your boyfriend or girlfriend.
When it comes to maintaining a LDR in college, there are some habits you should try your hardest not to form. Here are eight things to avoid doing when you and your partner are attending different universities — according to people who have been there.
1. Always putting your partner before your college friends (and vice versa).
I do think I missed out on some valuable college experiences, and had some major FOMO when I'd spend an entire weekend visiting my boyfriend and saw all the fun things my roommates were doing without me. As our college years went on, though, we found it easier to be apart and were more open to booking bus tickets last-minute, so if my friends had fun plans I didn't want to miss out on, I'd just stay, and I'd go see my boyfriend the following weekend instead.
My best advice is to find that healthy balance! Remember you love your S.O. and your friends, so make time for both and, if they love you back, both will understand if you want to spend quality time with the other. Long-distance relationships are not easy, but if you truly care for your partner and want to continue that relationship post-college, always look forward to that time. Thinking about our future together kept us going, kept us faithful, and kept us motivated to put in the work. In the end, it was well worth it!
— Jennifer, 24
2. Unnecessary jealousy.
My best advice would be trust each other. If you let jealousy start to leak in, that's the end. Your S.O. is gonna be around other people, sometimes single people. Trust that they won't ever betray you, and they should afford you that same consideration. And if you don't trust each other, just talk about it like adults. Try to figure it out, reassure each other. Sometimes jealousy is just loneliness disguising itself. FaceTime, Skype, ooVoo, whatever. Make time for each other.
Or, stop the LDR. You aren't doing yourself or your S.O. any favors perpetuating something that's not working. And it's better to stop before things get hostile in the hopes you may be able to salvage it later, rather than let it get bad and die forever.
— Tyler, 23
3. Keeping secrets from your partner.
The biggest advice I have for anyone in a LDR is communication. It's so important to be open and honest with your partner and let them know what's going on in your life. Hanging out with some guy friends? Tell him. A creepy dude hit on you at the bar? Let him know. This builds trust between you.
Another important piece of advice I have is don't miss out on experiences because he's not there with you. Go out with your friends, go on trips, and make the most of your time in school. Long-distance can actually be really cool because you can immerse yourself in your friendships and still have a kickass relationship with your boyfriend — you don't have to pick between the two. Don't get me wrong, long-distance can be hard. It really sucks sometimes, but if he's the right guy, I promise it's worth it. After three-and-a-half years of long distance, my boyfriend and I are living our dream in Austin, Texas together.
— Lindsay, 22
4. Being afraid to grow and change as an individual.
Be aware that it is a big change on top of a big change. You are both starting a new chapter in your lives and on top of that, you are learning how to be apart from each other. I think that the most important thing is to acknowledge that it's OK if you two are busy, but try to at least talk before bed about your days, and see each other as often as you can. I personally think that my relationship ended earlier [than it might have otherwise] because of distance, but I did learn a lot about priorities, communication, and respect.
— Elisa*, 23
5. Only communicating through text.
After three years of being [in a long-distance relationship] in college, we've learned that it is not as hard as people think. The best advice that I can give is to set up a time weekly or biweekly to FaceTime. It's great for us because we have the time apart, then we are able to come together and talk about how our week was. Although we do text every day, it is great to have that face-to-face communication to actually see how the other is doing.
— Elkie, 21
6. Infrequent or vague communication in general.
One behavior it's important to avoid is non-open communication. Of course, everyone knows that communication is extremely important in a relationship, but when you're long distance, it's important to be as open as possible! [My boyfriend] and I always know what the other's plans are for the day, their class schedule, etc. If we don't do this, it's hard to know what the other person is up to, and we may wonder why they aren't calling or responding to us. But when I know what he's up to, I can be worry-free and enjoy myself while he enjoys himself.
When you're long distance you don't have the luxury of seeing each other, even if it's just for a quick lunch during a busy day. So an extremely open line of communication is wildly important.
— Jordan, 22
7. Being lazy about making plans to see your S.O.
Make an effort, it will take your relationship far. With such hectic testing schedules, football games (home and away), school, Greek life, etc., my boyfriend and I would make an effort to see each other at least one weekend out of the month. Whether that meant I drove to see him during football season, or him coming to see me for a day or two, we made an effort. Some months it wouldn't work out to see each other in person, but we would make up for it and try and see each other more the next month. We would FaceTime or call each other a lot more when seeing each other in person wasn't possible that month. It becomes easier to break a month up with a trip to see your significant other. You’ll find yourself in a routine of life or school, homework, work, Greek life or other activities, and then before you know it you'll be on your way to see your significant other. Don't be lazy, be positive and proactive about making these trips happen!
— Sara, 22
8. Taking everyone else's relationship advice to heart.
Do what you think will work best for you and your relationship. A lot of people will have a lot of opinions on how to make a long-distance relationship successful. I was constantly given advice about my relationship — most of the time I never once asked for advice, but it was given constantly.
I take pride that I didn't really let external factors interrupt my relationship, and that my boyfriend didn't let a lot of people influence his end of the relationship either. While it is nice to know that people around you care and want to help, do what you believe will work for you and your partner. No one knows you or your relationship better than you do.
— Sara, 22
You want to graduate with your S.O. still by your side, so avoid making these eight mistakes in your LDR. With a little faith, frequent visits, and a whole lot of communication, you and your partner can make your relationship last through college — and beyond.
*Name has been changed.
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