(This article was written by my boyfriend, Mitchell Muir, and I. Mitchell writes for Norwich University's Odyssey section.)
A relationship usually starts with both individuals together, but life has shown us that being together all the time is almost impossible. We all have different ambitions and goals and sometimes, we can’t conform to someone else’s lifestyle. This is where long distance relationships come into play. For us, our long distance relationship started when we both left for college.
I (Rachel) go to Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. My boyfriend (Mitchell) goes to Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. Mitchell and I are exactly seven and a half hours away from each other while we are in school. Therefore, we do not get to see each other very often during the school year. However, through all of the craziness of our academic and extracurricular schedules, we manage to stay in close contact with one another. We start off by making sure that we talk to each other at least once every day via text, phone call, or video chat. Being able to physically see and hear your significant other is very important. By doing one of these three things at least once a day ensures that you both will have some form of contact with each other. Whether it is talking about how each other’s day was or what their favorite class is, being able to express your emotions with your significant other is very important in a long distance relationship. I also find that writing letters to your significant other at school is a very effective form of communication. Although it takes Mitchell’s mail about 2 weeks to actually get to him, it means all the more when he receives my letter on a bad day. My favorite things to send him are “open when…” letters. However, I write the letters on notecards so I can fit all of them into one envelope to send to him (it’s saves me money on stamps). Mitchell has told me that he loves receiving letters from me and keeps them close by when he really needs to read them.
Another thing to remember about long distance relationships is that your relationship is not going to be perfect! Long distance relationships are NOTHING like you see in the movies. You won’t always be able to find time to write those “Dear John” love letters or get to talk to them on the phone 24/7…….and that’s OK! As a very smart, handsome young man (Mitchell) once told me, “It’s not about the distance….or even the time...it’s about the EFFORT that you put into your relationship that really counts”. I for one always keep that statement in my mind at all times. Mitchell and I both have social lives at school. We started our relationship knowing that we weren’t always going to get to spend a large amount of time together during the school year. However, this doesn’t include all the time that we get when we both go on breaks. Even though we do not get a lot of time to be together on breaks, we still manage to be with each other and enjoy each other’s company…...even if that means becoming an active part of each other’s families! (Guilty as charged!!)
Being separate from each other for long periods of time causes for those small incremental moments to be all the more noteworthy. The breaks our colleges give us provide us with ample time to catch up. After hanging out on a daily basis over the summer, we had to adapt to a new form of communication. For couples to last for long periods of time, it is important to be able to change to new environments when necessary. So between leaving for school and being able to see each other again was almost two months. Thanksgiving was the first time since the summer that we could officially hang out. I have come to realize that our dates have become more meaningful and we find more reasons to hang out than the simple movie nights. Comparing that with how it was over the summer and I can see that it is a huge difference. Most people nowadays seem to want to stay close to their significant others because it is more comfortable and less complicated, but I will say that those types of relationships tend not to last long due to the refusal to adapt. Sometimes they can be restrictive for each other and they may not even know it. I have known friends who only go to a certain college because it proves easy availability for their girlfriends, and the fact that they consider themselves not ready for the long distance relationship. Being able to operate efficiently when far away from each other is highly important for any relationship, and being in this relationship has taught me that is undeniably true.
Long distance relationships aren’t meant to be easy. Being able to overcome such obstacles is vital for any type of relationship. For me, it is always important to impress my girlfriend, especially when she is not exactly in a good mood. Sometimes I can’t always be there for her, but it’s highly important to let her know that I can still be there for her even if I can’t physically be there. And for me (Rachel), I believe that it is very important to let my boyfriend know that I care about him and I want him to succeed in everything that he does….even if that means him traveling the world without me. I know that I will always be here, waiting for him to return with arms wide open. Long distance relationships teach us that staying in touch when times are tough means that we are both willing to sacrifice something for the other’s benefit. If you both are willing to understand that sacrifice is required for a long distance relationship to work, then everything will work out for your benefit.