How to Maintain a Long-Distance Relationship in College

It’s 100% possible to make an LDR work in college; here’s how.

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How to maintain a long distance relationship in college

Let’s face it. Contrary to what happens on most TV shows (I’m talking to you, Gossip Girl), odds are that you probably didn’t start the semester attending the same college as your boyfriend or girlfriend.

LDRs are pretty common on college campuses, especially in September, when many girls are still dating their summer flings. However, as I’ve learned from countless friends, October and November seem to be the time when most LDRs start to fizzle out.

But don’t worry. Even though long-distance relationships in college can be difficult, I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be okay.

You see, readers, I happen to be in one myself – a very long-distance relationship that spans the Atlantic Ocean. So I feel your pain.

Here are a couple helpful tips that I’ve learned for keeping that long-distance flame burning through fall and beyond.

1. You Both Have to Want to Make it Work.

The number one most important factor in the success of a long-distance relationship is your mutual desire to make it work, no matter what.

Yes, you might like the idea of staying together despite the distance initially, but after a few months, you’ll both start to realize how tough LDRs really are. And when that time comes, a firm commitment is what will get you through.

You both have to be willing to work through the problems that will inevitably arise, instead of dropping the relationship at the first sign of trouble.

Also, it’s not enough for one of you to be committed – long distance relationships don’t work unless both parties are equally dedicated and willing to put in the time and energy required.

One-sided relationships never succeed in the long term, and this is doubly true when you add distance to the equation. If you start to notice you’re putting way more effort into the relationship than your boyfriend or girlfriend, it might be time to rethink things.

2. Communication is Key.

This probably sounds pretty obvious, but communication is key to maintaining a long-distance relationship – and it’s not as simple as just text messages and phone calls.

Sharing concerns and frustrations with each other is essential. It’s important not to bottle up your insecurities. Instead, just share your feelings with him or her. Be clear about how you feel – whether those feelings are good or bad.

Here are some of my favorite ways to communicate!

Video Chatting

Video chatting with boyfriend

If you haven’t done this already, set up regular FaceTime dates and stick to them.

When you start to miss hanging out with each other, FaceTime or Zoom is a great way to chat face-to-face and do something together. Sometimes you don’t even need words! My BF and I like to video chat with each other while we’re both working on separate projects. That way we can casually chat and do our work at the same time. It’s like being in the same room together.

However, waiting all day for your BF or GF to FaceTime you so that you two can chat is definitely not the way to go – believe me, I’ve done it multiple times. Sooner or later you realize that there has to be some sort of schedule.

For example, between studying for midterms, completing assignments and hanging out with friends, it may be hard for you and your boy or girl to get a hold of each other. That, my dear readers, is where the FaceTime scheduling begins.

Find a time every night (or every other night) that works for both of you – but keep time zones in mind! What’s a good time for you may not always be a good time for them and vice-versa.

Snail Mail

Love letter

Believe it or not, hand-written postcards and letters always feel more personal than texts and emails. Take some time out of your day to send your significant other a letter every few weeks.

And be creative!  Send poems, drawings, photos or things that remind you of each other. Send them a wallet-sized photo or one of your favorite bracelets for them to hold onto.

And the next time you see him or her, snag one of their tee shirts to wear to bed. Because even though you two can’t cuddle together, it’s nice to have something that smells like that special someone.

Other Great Ways to Communicate:

  • Emails
  • Sending each other TikToks or Instagram memes
  • Daily Texts
  • GChat
  • Phone Calls

3. Patience is a Virtue.

No matter how hard you try, you probably won’t be speaking to each other as often as you used to, but you just have to be patient. There will be missed calls and unanswered texts, and that is something that you just need to come to terms with in a long-distance relationship.

But the important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t spend your time waiting around for a message to pop up in your inbox. 

So if you’re a bit on the impatient side, the best way calm your anxiety is by keeping yourself busy. Join a campus club, start volunteering or hang out with your friends!

That way, you won’t be waiting around by the phone all day and you’ll have some great stories to share when you guys do talk.

4. You Have Nothing Without Trust.

Couple in love

Every relationship needs trust, but it’s especially crucial for maintaining a healthy long-distance relationship.

Of course, even I can’t resist the occasional stalking of who is in my boyfriend’s Instagram stories or who is commenting on his posts. But it’s important not to read too much into stories or comments by other girls — because you have to realize (even though it’s hard sometimes) that while you’re enjoying meeting new people and experiencing the college social scene, he or she is doing the same.

So don’t try to suffocate your partner by being too controlling. Jealously and drama will destroy any relationship – long-distance or not.

You really need to trust that your significant other is making the right decisions, and they need to trust that you’re doing the same  If he or she starts to question your social media activities, then maybe it’s time for you two to have a serious discussion.

Remember that one of the benefits of being in a long-distance relationship is finding out who you are as an individual. This also means finding the right balance between hanging out with new friends and spending time with your significant other.

They shouldn’t expect you to spend all your time chatting with them, and you shouldn’t expect that either. You both need to go out and enjoy college life!

Trusting your boy or girlfriend not only calms your nerves but it also leads to a happier and healthier relationship.

5. Look Toward the Future.

There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel, and one of the best ways to survive a long-distance relationship is by setting small goals. For example, start a countdown to the next time that you two will see each other.

And hang in there! What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. Whether it succeeds or fizzles, every relationship is a learning experience. At the end of the day, you’ll learn more about your own personal strengths and weaknesses from this experience.

What do you think of our guide to long distance relationships in college?

Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? Or are you currently in one? Tell me the kinds of things you and your BF or GF do to keep your relationship strong!

I would love to hear your experiences. Just leave me a comment!

60 thoughts on “How to Maintain a Long-Distance Relationship in College”

  1. I’m so happy to see this post! I’ve been with my bf for about 4 years and going on to 5. It feels so good to know that there are people in the same position as myself. In the past I’ve gotten a lot of negative comments regarding LDR. I feel that another reason why LDR don’t end up working out is because people can get influenced by what friends tell them. I believe that when you know that something feels right, just go with it. Perhaps, some friends have the best of intentions for you, however you have to be the one capable of deciding things without the influence of others. Just have trust, happiness and put the effort into your relationship, you will see that everything will fall into place 🙂

  2. Awwww this is a great article!

    My bf and I have been together for 6 years and two of those years were long distance college years. It’s not easy, and like you said, both of you have to want it, then it’s worth it!

    We live three hours apart, so we try to see each other once every two weeks, and meet up and have some sort of adventure or outing. I miss him terribly and wish I could see him every day but I am happy with the current state of our relationship. Long distance makes me appreciate the time I have with him so much more 🙂

  3. Thank you for writing this great article! I’m in my last year of college and my boyfriend may have one more semester or year to do before he can graduate. There will most likely be some long distance stuff going on, and I’ve been worried about it. This makes me feel a little better.

  4. Thank you so much for this article! My bf and i are in our 1st year of long distance, i’m studying in europe and he’s in the navy, more accurately he’s a submariner… This means that he spends MONTHS out to sea, and well the only way we can communicate is by email, which only gets sent out of his boat every couple of days… I miss him constantly, and when he gets to port, and is able to call me, we spend hours on the phone. Just to be able to hear his voice is, well, awesome, cause sometimes it gets hard to remember that i’m actually having a relationship with a physical person, and not just a computer or something… he also sends me stuff from wherever he’s at, different places in asia etc, and it’s great to be able to hold something he picked out and remember him, it brings him closer. Also he’s coming to see me in a month, so that’s good, but honestly, had i known how hard ldr’s are, i would’ve thought harder about entering into one… but now i’m right in the middle of it, i can’t just break out of it either.. the hardest part is definitely just remembering him as a person, and the way we are together. But I love him incredibly much, and we’re both determined to make this work, we’ve decided that it’s not impossible!

  5. This article makes me so happy! When I was getting ready to go to college, every article, book and friend told me to break up with my boyfriend, but hear we are over three and a half years later, still happy and still so in love. He graduates this year and is planning to get a job by me so we can live together. If you both really want it to work, it will work. That’s not to say there haven’t been rough patches, but that’s something all relationships go through whether the next town over or a few states over.
    Thank you for showing non believers of LDR’s that there are lots of ways to keep the love alive!

  6. It’s hard, but it’s definitely not impossible. And there are so many rewards of a long distance relationship – for one thing, you’re so much more appreciative of the time you spend. My boyfriend lived in England whilst I lived in New York, and after over a year of long distance living, I’ve moved to England to study abroad. If you both want it, and really think you can do it, then it doesn’t seem so bad at all.

  7. Wow! Thank you guys so much for the great responses! I’m so happy that many of you are in a similar position and are handling the LDR so well!

    It’s NEVER impossible, and if you really care about someone and you know that he feels the same way, them please try to make it work because you’ll never know unless you try.

    It’s great to read so many positive experiences. Congrats to you guys for making it work!

    @rachael – having your own song is a great idea! Thanks 🙂

  8. My bf lives thousands of miles away and we video chat loads & send letters etc. Sometimes we watch movies together online. It’s not as nice as watching together in person but its better than not doing anything at all 🙂

  9. This makes me so happy to read too!! My long distance bf lives close enough that I can visit every few weeks or so. But i’m happy to know other people are int he same boat as me and that slightly irrational fears aren’t unique to me. There’s still hope! Thanks for the tips!

  10. I know it isn’t quite the same, but I’m having an LDR with my parents and my friends while I study abroad.
    I have to let me parents know what time I’m free and I make skype dates with my friends and keep facebook messages active. I also send my parents and friends things in the post.
    Time differences can be a bitch too.
    I’ve never managed to make an actual relationship work long-distance but I definitely think these tips can apply to studying abroad :]]

    Charlotte xxx

  11. I’m in a LDR right now as well. My boyfriend leaves across the Atlantic as well, all the way in England and it does get hard but it’s worth it in the end. We see each other 4 times a year for a month at a time and I’m moving out there next June for study abroad. It’s all about goals and we try to plan little achievements throughout the year to help us. We send little gifts, cards, and notes in the mail just to let each other know that yes, we are a physical person. Skype is a great player in keeping us together. We are 5 hours apart and we’re both busy with hectic school/work schedules, so even if we can’t sit down and speak, we can leave each other on in the background as we study and we usually fall asleep together on skype. Thank goodness for technology! But LDR’s are totally worth it if you can keep your patience and trust and work towards goals. 🙂 xx

  12. LDRs are the hardest! The trust and insecurity issues bug me the most. There will always be things that you will hide from each other. LDRs never worked for me. 🙁

  13. I love aim!! So easy to get in touch with people with the technology we have today! But hadmade cards are always the most personal and thoughtful!!

  14. @crystal – glad you liked the song idea! It sounds funny in a way, but it really helped me through a lot of lonely times away at college missing my bf. I even had ‘at least we made it this far’ as my ringtone for a while, and so did my bf. It was nice to know we were sharing that, as small as it was, because every time i heard it it was instantly like getting a little encouraging hug from him. 🙂
    I still love the lyrics – “I’m so tired of the phone, Baby // I don’t like the tone // The way we say I love you // A thousand times // We say those words // But we can’t look into each others eyes” 🙂 Its a true LDR theme song!!!

    Now that we’re married, I think we both can look back on our time of LDR-ing it and see how much going through that has actually benefited our relationship. It built trust, strengthened our communication skills, gave real clarity to our relationship and what it means to us, and – more than anything – taught us that our relationship is strong enough to survive anything as long as we are willing to work on it.

    Best wishes to all the LDRs out there – you can make it work!!! <3


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