Girl talking on phone

I’m just going to come right out and say it: Long-distance relationships suck. Being someone who has gone through one, hearing “It’ll never work out” and “I’m not sure why you try” just deflates morale and honestly made me doubt my efforts.

Having a long-distance relationship with someone is no easy feat, especially with the holidays right around the corner. Being in college doesn’t make it any easier. The impending happiness of couples all around you can increase insecurity, but don’t fret.

Long-distance relationships are a constant uphill battle for some people. For others, the time is seen as an opportunity to let the relationship grow. These relationships are all about the outlook; if you choose to constantly wallow in self-pity, the relationship will end up imploding pretty quickly.

Understanding the cons of having this difficult relationship are crucial to its success. Sadness and lonely nights are inevitable, and many emotional and physical aspects of relationships are unachievable when you are going through long-distance. However, understanding this and working around adversity is what allows the relationship to flourish.

Seeing the situation as a stepping stone to a more solid foundation in your relationship is a positive mindset. Take this distance as a chance to step back and peer in on the relationship as a whole: Do you see the relationship progressing? Is the distance temporary? Are you still able to maintain a healthy relationship? If this relationship is long-term, use the distance as an opportunity to better the relationship. If you plan to live together later in life, it would be beneficial to understand living apart as well.

When you think of the distance as a roadblock to a happy relationship, some rethinking is in order. Being completely truthful, balancing a healthy long-distance relationship can be time-consuming and exhausting for both parties. Considering this, you’ll know (without a doubt) if the relationship is meant to go through that situation.

Though there are a lot of downsides when you decide to enter a long-distance relationship, there are a few positives that make the loneliness worth it. As someone who has been in a successful long-distance relationship, I can say the simplest things become increasingly special. If you have found yourself in this situation and you are losing hope, don’t. Here are a few pieces of advice to help boost morale and keep the relationship healthy.

The first step is to keep communication open and effective. If you aren’t talking or enjoying the conversation, then what’s the point? This open communication also encourages honesty. Setting some expectations or small ground rules when there is distance can be beneficial when the rules are respectful. This way there are no surprises and no one oversteps boundaries. Saying this, avoiding possessive communication is key. There is truly no need to talk for 12 hours every day — that will quickly grow old. There is a high chance neither you nor your partner’s schedule allows excessive communication anyway.

After a while, the little things become increasingly important in the relationship, especially doing things together. This seems difficult, considering distance and possible time zone differences, but it is possible. Play an online game together, video chat and take a walk, online shop together, the list goes on. Being spontaneous and creative in these ideas makes the distance feel much smaller than it is.

One thing that helped me stay positive was watching a TV show with my partner. Though we weren’t physically watching it together, it was nice to talk about it after watching an episode. Small things like a TV show and social media create shared experiences and add another common interest to the conversation.

This sounds cheesy, but have a common goal in mind. Create a timeline, have the hard talks about the relationship. “When will I see you again?” “Do you think we have a future together?” Long distance is hard to maintain for long periods of time; everyone plans to settle down eventually. Having a common goal together eases insecurities. It is less stressful if both of you work toward a goal that, in the long run, ends up with you together.

Lastly, take time for yourself. These long-distance relationships are draining — there’s a reason why they have a negative stigma. Enjoy time with your family and friends and avoid isolation. Pick up a new hobby, excel in your studies. Yes, you are alone right now, but you do not need to be lonely.

Long-distance relationships are difficult, there’s no getting around that. Take the distance as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship or decide if you truly want to undergo the distance. If not, it’s OK. This situation isn’t for everyone. Saying this, do not let anyone tell you your relationship “will not work out.” No one else decides that but you and your partner. Besides — distance makes the heart grow fonder.

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