To all of the Ole couples out there,

I am so jealous of you. If you weren’t aware, only 43 percent of students are from Minnesota. So, you can imagine how many out-of-towners were forced to leave their significant others behind. I, unfortunately, was one of those people. There is a ton of stigma surrounding the long distance relationship, and in the weeks leading up to move-in day, many asked me the age-old question: Are you two going to break up before you leave? 

First and foremost, stop asking! Emotional probing is inappropriate and often causes the recipient to question their commitment. Your unbelieving scoff definitely doesn’t help either. The last thing a long distance couple needs is others questioning the validity of their relationship. Keep these thoughts to yourself and please consider the feelings of others.

To my fellow Oles in long-distance relationships, 

Communication is the most important part of any relationship, so why do we long distance lovers have such an issue with communicating? Often, we do not discuss when or how we will stay in touch, even though we are lucky enough to live in the era of texting and FaceTime!  Time is a rare resource, one which we often waste with poor time-management. Make time for your partner—schedule video chats and tell them about your day before you go to bed.  These small gestures will let your partner know that you are thinking of them. 

Once you develop a solid means of communication, it’s time to listen. Take time to actively listen to your partner and evaluate their concerns and needs. When they are troubled by the state of your relationship, reassure them! Let them know  you understand their feelings and remind them that you still love and appreciate them. While you listen, I would recommend paying close attention to their interests. It can be easy to feel disconnected when you no longer share common ground. You can still support their growth and endeavours from afar; show genuine interest, and let them know you are proud.

These are all great ways to maintain an intimate relationship from a distance, but you must also be ready to handle the rough patches. It can be difficult to address these sensitive subjects through text or over the phone, but always speak up when something is bothering you. Unvoiced concerns can easily turn into resentment. Realize that distance puts you on an uneven playing field—your circumstances will be wildly different. Be prepared to share your troubles and remember to listen. 

Caring from a distance can sometimes become very time consuming. Never be afraid to take time for yourself. Living your life is just as, if not more, important than caring for your significant other. Explore what life apart has to offer! There are countless new and interesting people around you. Don’t feel guilty about having a life outside of your relationship. I would recommend it for any type of couple. Explore yourself and share what you’ve learned. 

So, that leaves the dreaded problem of trust. I would just like to say, if you don’t trust your partner when you leave, should you really be together? If you have full faith in them, it’s just a matter of combating overthinking. Even the strongest of couples can find themselves wondering if their partner still loves them. Like I mentioned before, reassurance can go a long way.  An unexpected “I miss you” or “I’m thinking of you” is all it takes sometimes. For the particularly anxious partner, don’t be afraid to ask for affirmation! It can be scary to ask, but a caring partner won’t feel forced if you do.

I will leave you with some ideas to keep in mind: While you are on the uphill climb, always keep looking up. In my opinion, caring too much is better than not caring enough. Be committed, and hope for the happy ending.