As I looked in the mirror I asked myself if this is what I wanted. It had been less than a year since I started dating her and now had to make the decision if I wanted to continue dating her when I went off to college. I like so many others, had to decide whether a long distance relationship was something I wanted to get into. Before that moment I had never even thought of the hard work that a long distance relationship took, but rather only thought about the key word of that sentence: Long Distance.
When my girlfriend first told me that she would be going to a college close to 500 miles away from me, it felt like my world had stopped for a second in time. Now I realize that this statement may be an exaggeration, but understand that at that moment in my life, basketball, being able to drive wherever I wanted, and hanging out with my friends and girlfriend my life. Perhaps it was the hormones or the sense of panic, but I told her that I would make it work. We would get through it.
That was a little more than 4 and a half years ago. Odds against me, I am proud to say that I am still with her. After I tell people how long I have been going out with her and that we did the whole long distance thing, the first thing they ask me is how I did it. To respond to this, I wish I could say something short and simple like: “Patience is key,” but if it were that simple then why do so few long distance relationships last?
As I write this, seniors in high school are probably beginning to get college acceptance letters that will shape their future as well as their current relationship. While one’s future can’t be compared to a high school relationship, for some, that relationship means the world to them. So the big question becomes what do you do? You are about to go to a college that is a fair distance away and are put in the position of deciding the future of your relationship. For some, the decision to end it then and there is the best solution. For others, a long distance relationship is one they are willing to attempt.
Understand The Situation
The first thing that needs to be understood is that this is not some church retreat that the other person is going to and will be back in a week from. This is the real deal. 10 minute drives to see them will now become 3+ hour drives, and talking on the phone for minutes, will turn into hours. When my girlfriend and I first went off to college I remember the first week we must have talked on the phone for at least 10+ hours that week and argued for at least half of them.
Before we both went our separate ways we never really sat down and talked about the changes that we would encounter. When you go off to college you enter a whole different atmosphere where you can re-invent yourself, and be and do what you want. Just because the other person doesn’t call you every minute you are free, doesn’t mean that they don’t care for you. Take time to sit down and talk about what you expect from the long distance relationship and express your concerns. Guys, I know it’s hard to be ‘express’ yourselves sometimes, but would you rather try and ‘express’ yourself when the girl is already on the plane and 4 hours away?
Learn To Talk
When you are in a long distance relationship your cellphone becomes your best friend. For this reason, I suggest that you switch over to some plan that will allow you to talk late into the night with your respective other. When talking with your girlfriend/boyfriend it is important that you make the time you talk as meaningful as possible. If that person only has 10 minutes to talk that whole day (it happens), make sure you ask them how their day is going and be interested in the new experiences they are being part of in college. The biggest advice I can give to guys is: Don’t play cop. When you ask your girlfriend how their day is, don’t ask for every detail like you are their parent. While it hypocritical of me to say this, I am saying it because I feel that if my girlfriend wasn’t the understanding person she was, any normal girl would’ve dumped me. It is hard enough as it is to be 4 hours away, they don’t need us to make things harder.
Think Before You Say
The biggest reason people start fighting over the phone is that they over-think what the other person is saying or someone says something without thinking. When someone is in a long-distance relationship, it is important that you think before you say. I am telling you this from personal experience. I have on more than one occasion said something ‘stupid’ before thinking about it. It may feel like what you are about to say is important, but in reality when you are stressed and mad at the other person, what you are about to say is fueled by emotion and irrational reasoning. I have found that the best strategy is to stop and think about what you want to say then re-word it in a way that won’t offend them.
Guys Don’t Want To Share
Plain and simple. When it comes to their girlfriend, guy’s don’t want to share time with them with others. While I can’t say this is true for 100% of guys, it is my general feeling that most guys hate to share. Most specifically, share with other guys. If a guy hears that their girlfriend is going to hang out with Jill, they will not care. But once Jill becomes Bill, then the red flags go up. Perhaps it is built into our DNA, but guys are naturally predatorial. Just like with a lion and his pride, another male in the picture threatens him. With that said, guys we’re not lions. Learning to bite your tongue is the best thing you can do. Make it clear that you are uncomfortable, but you don’t need to tell them over and over. Here is the on point I am trying to make: If you want a long distance relationship last, don’t try to control it, let it run its course. All you can do is do your best to work as a ‘team’ to work things out and understand each other.
I know it is a lot to digest and that their is more I can write, but if I did that this post may turn into a book. If you have any questions please feel free to ask and I’d be more than happy to offer you some helpful advice. For anyone that is still thinking about whether a long distance relationship is for them here are some words to think about:
Contrary to what the cynics say, distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It’s for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It’s for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don’t see it nearly enough. Distance is just a test to see how far love can travel.