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Long-distance relationships: Can they be right for you?

By Tina Gomez
On April 18, 2015

A college student’s life can sometimes get messy, but there is no reason why relationships should not thrive -- even long distance ones. Long distance relationships, or LDR’s for short, are not for everyone. However, if you find yourself in one, know that they can be satisfying. As someone who has been in a LDR since 2013, I have some words of wisdom and tips to make the most of your relationship.

According to a study at The (former) Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, “Overall, there are just over 7 million couples (14-15 million individuals) in the US who consider themselves in a long distance relationship.” Statistics show that lasting LDR’s are more common than you think.  

The overwhelming numbers don’t just stop there, statistics from show that up to 32.5% of college students claim to be in a committed LDR. So knowing that they are more common than you think, how do you survive knowing your partner is only a trip away? It’s not always easy, but with enough communication and creativity you can make this work.

First things first, communication is key. Make the effort to be the first person your partner speaks to in the morning. It could be as simple as a text message or as visual as a Google Hangout video call.  

My mornings usually start in a hurry as I scramble to make it to class on time, so a video call isn’t always ideal. However, nothing will make my morning quite like a text that reads, “Good morning! I hope you slept well. Have a good day in class!”

An article titled “Why We're All Addicted to Texts, Twitter and Google,” Susan Weinschenk Ph. D, states that dopamine is not only the cause for the “feel good” sensations in our brain, but  it also propels us to search for more information; therefore, we find ourselves looking to our phones for satisfaction.  

A simple text message in the morning can help keep you motivated through the day. The article continues to say that, “The dopamine seeking system keeps you motivated to move through your world, learn, and survive. It's not just about physical needs such as food, or sex, but also about abstract concepts.” So it’s clearer now that simple text messages such as a winking-emoticon can satisfy these small repetitious sparks of motivation.

Sometimes the school, work, and life balancing act becomes overwhelming and a simple visit from your partner could alleviate some stress. Before making the commitment to spend the gas or the frequent flyer miles, make sure you plan the stay way in advance. Choose a time that is both right for you! There might be local events happening in town, or it just might be the perfect weather to get out and enjoy your time together -- whatever the case, make sure that it’s the time you both can agree on.

Statistics show that on average couples meet up about 1.5% a month, and if you can make the time, I would recommend that you do.

Since time is an important factor in a satisfactory relationship, make sure you can host your partner for a week or so. There’s nothing worse than 3 days together only to find out that you both need to get back to the “daily grind”. Now, would be the perfect time to take some vacation time off from work or have some really great “excuses” for missing class.

Also, be sure to let friends and family know your partner will be in town so that they know why you’re ditching their calls. Maybe you want to introduce your significant other to your friends and family? Let them know a week in advance so that they can make plans to hang out with the both of you. Introducing your partner to your inner circle could strengthen your relationship and give you both more things to talk about when they get back home.

And once the distance becomes a factor again, make sure you utilize the most of the applications on your phone. Apps like Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and even Twitter can help alleviate some of the communication woes you both may face. It can be satisfying to know that your significant other is only a megabyte away.

LDR’s aren’t for everyone and that’s ok! If you’re testing the waters with a long-distance spark or running out of ways to keep the relationship alive, know that there are ways to get satisfaction from your love interest. There is some leg work that goes into long distance relationships, but that is the rule for most healthy relationships. As the saying goes, “Age ain’t nothing but a number” and the same principle applies to distance --go get ‘em tiger!

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