What's the most nerve wracking part of going to college? What'll really get your goat in the end? The stress from entrance exam style tests like the SAT, ACT, and/or AP tests? The stress and pressure of choosing which college is the exact right choice? The agonizing stress, pressure, and anxiety from barely having enough money or having way too much money to know what to do with (check your privilege to see where you fit I realize that most are not rich or fiscally responsible enough to not have to worry at all about money for college rest assured any jokes are all in good fun)? Yes, yes to all of that. But what's potentially even worse in both the long and short runs is being away from your significant other for months at a time...
Imagine yourself in a committed relationship it's meaningful you're in love and you don't plan on the depth and devotion fading nor do you plan and falling out of love any time soon-maybe you don't have to imagine and maybe your relationship involves a lot more or a lot less than that. Either way I've been there. I am currently and I can tell you that long distance love is not for the faint of heart. No matter your level of relationship (Although a strong one will ultimately stand the test of time and distance a lot better than a more casual or already dysfunctional situation) it's hard to be away from each other. All you see is other people and you may be in a place completely different from where you grew up where the only person you know is yourself. So here's some tips to cope with being separated from the one person who can and will be there for you:
1. Record, Recite, Relive
Do everything in your power for them to be able to live vicariously through you for both of your sakes. Take pictures all around campus your first weeks and beyond. Take pictures of everything! Your room, all the buildings, fun art work, the dining hall. It's easy to feel alienated and desolate when you can't even conceptualize the life that the one you love is currently living no matter how long it's been or how far away you are.
Speaking of recording, a good idea is to keep a diary. Not for yourself but for that special someone! Whether it's a plain notebook, a binder, a composition book, a legal pad, a book that says diary, a nice moleskin...whatever form of something to write on and something to write with you have access to use it to document every aspect of your daily life. Instead of "Dear diary" entitle every entry as "Dear [insert pet name here]" or "Dear [insert boyfriend or girlfriend's name here]". Tell them what happens in detail from the minute you wake up to when you go to sleep even if you're talking to them regularly throughout the day. This is a therapeutic and helpful thing even if you aren't an avid writer like myself. Writing is a great form of expression for everyone and it'll make you feel so much closer to them to be able tell them everything that's happening especially if you treat it like a conversation instead of a letter. Keep it in your purse, tote bag, or backpack. Also remember journaling has no gender. This is a positive activity no matter who you are in your relationship.
Try recording messages for them. Facebook messenger allows you to send voice messages up to a minute long using the microphone on your phone and it sends directly to your special someone. If you have an iPhone or don't want to use messenger there are other ways to do this with your phone or on your computer. It's a great way to keep connected as we feel so much closer when we use our voices to talk. It also makes the distance seem a lot less daunting. My fiancé and I are known for sending voice messages and listening to them by my friends around campus and they think it's adorable.
All of these things are some of the ways that you can help your significant other to relive the experiences that you're having in real time. They're your memories but they'll be having memories of your recollections and it'll mean so much more for them to be able to share that with you as much as possible.
2. Make Time For Visuals
It's probably pretty obvious that the best cure to the ache of loneliness and constantly missing your lover no matter how far away, how long it's been, or what else is going on would simply be to be able to see them. Most of the time this isn't possible in person especially if you live hours away or even in another state. There are so many obstacles you could face when trying to schedule visits and allow time for tangibility. Thus the magical technology of video chatting comes into play. Whether you use Facebook, Skype, FaceTime or whatever other service you find that works for you this is a really great practice to have. Recording, reciting, and reliving mean so much more when you can truly see your favorite person in real time. My fiancé and I make a point to do so every night before bed and for an hour at least when we can. Do whatever works for you. Make it organic and have it naturally blend into your everyday routine. Skype on the way to class and while you're in the library doing homework. Who says you can't be on a call in the dining hall? The point is that you're together and spending time together and that counts for so much.
What's even more meaningful than video chatting is actually seeing each other in person. Do everything in your power to make this happen. Be respectful to your parents, take rides with friends, ride the bus back home or have your S.O. travel to the city. Be kind, understanding, and respectful to your roommate(s) as well. They don't want to ruin your good time or impede on your ability to see your partner (I'm guessing they don't) and it's a shared space. I feel like it's safe to bring it up 2 weeks in advance of when you plan on having them visit and make sure to find out the policy on guest visits your first week there.
3. Communicate, Contact....Coitus
Communication is key in any relationship at any stage but especially when one is under strain for any reason. Make you sure communicate everything you feel and implore them to do the same. Chances are the reason any relationship has problems before or after something as big as leaving for a whole year or more occurs it's because of lack of communication. If you really love this person then you should express how you truly feel though you should do that in your everyday life regardless. If they don't talk to you enough in the day let them know and make sure whatever you express and have a problem with that your complaints cannot be seen as simply bitching. Your emotions are valid and so are your partners so you need to foster a loving, understanding, and safe environment for them to be expressed especially if you plan on feeling connected and staying together.
Make sure to keep contact. The worst thing for distance is to feel more distanced by not talking enough. Send messages throughout the day, fall asleep on the phone like I do with my own partner, have phone calls and video chats through out the day. Don't forget to tell them about a class or a meeting. Make sure they understand if you do. Keep up to date on what they're doing don't simply talk be engaged.
Making time for sex in a relationship that involves sexual activity is a very important thing. This does not only have to include time for visits. Send photos (I'm not saying it has to be nudes get creative chances are they probably think you're sexy in sweats and a t-shirt if they really love you), do phone sex and role play (if you're into it) make sure that you foster the idea that you're physically attracted to each other miles away. When they can visit make sure you have time to truly appreciate each other's bodies. It's been weeks, you've been having these new experiences and so have they. It's time to rediscover what got you hot and heavy in the first place. Make sure the roommate is out and that she won't be perturbed with you having as much time as you need. She or he rather.
4. Don't Forget and Don't Blame Yourself
Don't forget that you have someone to turn to who understands exactly what you're going through when you feel sad, alone, and when the pain is too much. When you have dumb jokes and when you feel like you have no one to talk to. You don't. That's them. Even if you feel like your relationship isn't at that stage yet give it the opportunity to be. Because that person isn't your friend whose partner is also in another city or state, or your mom, or your dog, or me it's your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Don't blame yourself. I've done this to myself too many times to count. Both being sad about being away there's general strain about being away with your families and yourselves being depressed together and all you can think is that you're mad at yourself. After all, it isn't circumstance that brought you here. It was a conscious decision on your part. You said to yourself as I said to myself: "I wanna go here it's my dream school we'll make it work things'll be fine!" But then months later you find out it isn't as easy as it seems and you get bitter and guilty about the money and time spent by your parents and those around you to help get you there...It's not healthy. Take it from me. Your partner will tell you the same. That's not what they want for you. Focus on your studies and your joint happiness and all will work out in the end.