Alex Mexicotte is a senior at Hillsdale College. He is majoring in economics and minoring in psychology. He is a DII sprinter on the Track and Field team and is active in PRAXIS and Gadfly Group, two economic associations on campus.
Have you caught yourself in a relationship right before moving off to college? Have you been dating the same person for a while but afraid of going off to different schools? Relax! Long-distance relationships are usually seen as a source of stress and uncertainty, but in order for them to be successful, these views have to be abolished and substituted with more positive attitudes. If you find yourself in a position like this, you have to make some decisions: One, is this relationship truly worth pursuing? And two, if so, how can you ensure that both of you are happy? Sometimes these questions can be very difficult to answer honestly but they are crucial to developing an effective strategy to sustain long-distance relationships.
Firstly, ask yourself if the relationship you are in is something that could endure long periods of separation. This means that both partners are fully committed to each other and are willing to put effort into the relationship regardless of the distance. This decision will be easier for those of you who’ve been in a relationship for a longer period of time since you will have a better grasp on the type of person your partner is and the type of relationship that you have. For those of you in a newer relationship and aren’t quite sure, my honest advice is simple: take risks!
Some of you may be reluctant to get into LD relationships because of what you’ve heard from others about them. The general opinion is that LD relationships aren’t worth it and high school sweethearts never work out. What I say to those people is that they have the exact wrong attitude in the first place. No relationship is going to last long if your expectations are negative from the beginning. You have to make a decision to go for it and be confident in your decision. This will make it much easier for you to put in the effort necessary to keep the relationship alive and healthy and simultaneously influence your partner to reciprocate that confidence. As I have stated before, if you have an interest in keeping your relationship, you have to take the risk of committing to a LD relationship and be adamant in your decision.
So you’ve decided to go for the relationship. Congratulations! You’ve completed one of the hardest parts of the LD relationship process: commitment. Now that you’ve done that, you need to develop a strategy that will sustain your confidence and commitment for long periods of time. I can tell you up front that texting and phone calls alone will not be enough to keep your relationship alive. After a few months and even years, you’ll have to get creative. Some great ways to stay engaged with each other would be regularly scheduled Skype dates or even visiting each other in person if the distance is commutable. Don’t distress if you can’t constantly stay in contact. School work will be heavier some weeks than others. It’s important that both you and your partner understand this aspect and are respectable when your workloads get overwhelming.
When you arrive on campus, you’ll quickly learn that college is about new experiences. You have 4 years (at least) to enjoy your college career. A LD relationship can deeply enrich that experience. I’ve been with my girlfriend now for over 2 years and she’s a 17 hour drive away. We are almost the worst case scenario in terms of distance. I see her once, maybe twice a semester (not including winter and summer breaks). While this is far from ideal, I’ve found a deeper appreciation for her after experiencing the difference between being physically with her and being apart. The key is to view it positively. Take it from my own experiences when I say that a LD relationship can work just as well as a normal one. It’s what you put in that makes it special.