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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Dear Erica,

I am studying abroad next semester, and my boyfriend and I are planning to try to make it work long distance for a few months while I’m gone…Do you have any suggestions for successful long distance relationships?

—T.G.

Long-distance relationships are hella hard, and that’s not pessimism—it’s realism. I have some more uplifting things to say, T.G., but on account of that difficulty, my first tip is for you to chat with your boyfriend and establish expectations for the time you’re apart.

For example, how often will you call/email? Obviously, it will take more work to maintain closeness when you’re not seeing each other for weeks and months at a time, but how much effort is “enough” to satisfy you both? Conversely, how often can you realistically promise to call one another without getting resentful or crazy?

You’ll also need to talk about relationship boundaries. What’s okay and what crosses the border into cheating? Can you go out dancing with other guys? Can he take a date to the law school semi-formal? Can pictures go up online? Do you want to straight-up open the relationship while you’re away?

I know this is an awkward convo with potentially unpleasant themes, but it will allow you to address some major issues before they arise. Many, many people do LDRs very successfully for a very long time, but it doesn’t just magically happen. It takes unique kinds (and quantities) of communication and effort, and it starts before any distance comes into the picture.

Ultimately, I don’t have “the” answer for you, T.G., but in lieu of that, here are several answers that have worked for some people and may potentially work for you.

Frequent contact:

Check in briefly multiple times daily. I’m not talking about 20-minute phone calls, but rather 20-second texts or e-mails. If your partner’s favorite song comes on the radio and you’re thinking about him, send a quick text. If you come across a Youtube video or blog post he’d love, send an e-mail. Little surprises go a long way toward keeping us connected to our partners and involved in their lives, when we’re together and when we’re not.

If you have a smartphone and you (or your parents) refuse to pay a bajillion dollars for those aforementioned texts, download WhatsApp. WhatsApp uses an internet connection to send mobile messages without ungodly additional charges on account of being overseas.

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Share Google calendars or class schedules so your partner can provide extra support (or less distraction) during midterms week, and you won’t freak out when he doesn’t text you back for awhile because he’s in the middle of a four-hour seminar.

But don’t overdo it:

On the flip side, don’t feel obligated to call every single day. Consider scheduling longer phone or Skype dates just a couple times each week. These will provide something to look forward to and will also help you avoid mundane nightly conversations that start to feel like more of a chore than a treat.

Joint activities:

Find activities you can do together even without physical togetherness. Watch a favorite movie or TV show while on the phone, or go for a run solo and log on to Skype while you stretch afterward. Get two copies of a book and read a few pages together each evening.

Old school love letters:

Write actual letters. Find (or make) some cute stationery, write your partner a note, and drop it in the mail—but don’t tell your partner it’s coming. You’ll get a little bit of excitement knowing that your letter is on its way, and a bona fide letter in the mail buoys the soul in ways email just can’t quite match.

Skype, sexting and lots ’o masturbation:

Masturbate a lot. One’s sexual needs don’t diminish when a partner becomes physically unavailable; take matters into your own hands (or vibrators or dildos or whatever), because sexual frustration can easily evolve into relationship frustration. Video chatting and sexting can also help keep us sexually connected to our partners.

Avoid pining over your lover:

Live your own life. Staying busy and involved will prevent you from sitting around and missing your partner all the time, and sitting around and missing your partner all the time will prevent you from staying busy and involved. College is short. Time abroad is usually even shorter, and I guarantee it will fly by before you know it. Don’t forget to enjoy it.

Worried that your college love won’t be able to survive the trials and tribulations of a long-distance relationship? E-mail all of your questions and concerns to Erica at sex@dailycardinal.com and learn how to keep the romance alive and vent your sexual frustrations.

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