Long-distance relationships

You've moved to university or relocated to start a new job and have left your boyfriend or girlfriend behind. Can your long-distance relationship work? And just as importantly, do you want it to?

Two phones with the cord in the shape of a heart.

Can you handle long distance?

Time apart

Find your feet: Starting life as a student or in a new job is a bit like visiting a new planet. Why? Because everything seems alien to begin with, not just your surroundings but the people too. It’s especially tough when your other half isn’t with you, but it’s vital that you make an effort to find your feet. Only then will you establish a life outside of your relationship – which is vital if this romance is going to survive.

Find your friends: Tempting as it may be to stay inside and pine for your other half, do make an effort to meet new people. You can’t expect to know everyone immediately, so set your sights on making friends with just one or two people and build from there. If they’re also new, then chances are you’ll find they’re going through exactly the same experience.

Find your voice: It’s natural to feel morose if you’re missing your partner, but don’t bottle up your feelings, otherwise you risk making things worse. Getting things off your chest can only help give you a better perspective on the situation, but don’t just talk to your boyfriend/girlfriend – there are many people and places who can help you get a more objective handle on your love life: from trusted friends and colleagues to your student counsellor, even a call home to your family.

Time together

Do you love me? Your relationship has gone from being a cosy affair in which you’re virtually living in each other’s pockets, to something a little more long distance. This doesn’t mean it’s doomed to fail – absence really can make the heart grow fonder – but it demands a lot of trust and travel cards. Only you can decide if you’re committed to making this work, just be sure your other half feels the same way too.

What are you doing this Friday? Now you’re not seeing so much of each other, be sure to make the most of your time together. Your other half isn’t going to relish the prospect of travelling across the country, only to spend the weekend staring aimlessly at the telly – unless, of course, that kind of thing clicks for you both. So talk to each other about the best way to make things go with a bang (apart from the obvious, of course) and have it all set up in advance to minimise the chances of a wash-out.

And the next? It might leave you feeling less anxious to begin with, but don’t go booking up your weekends together for months in advance. The fact is your feelings may well change as you grow used to being apart, which is why it’s so important that you’re both entirely honest with each other about how things are working out. Nobody can predict if it’ll last the distance, but a regular review will at least ensure you’re both still willing to make a go of it.

I want to call it off!

Don’t be a dawg: If your other half lives on the other side of the country, it’s tempting to think you can play away from home and get away with it. The trouble is it’s not going to leave you feeling very good about yourself afterwards, and if the truth ever does come out it’ll only leave you feeling worse.

Be honest: If you’re at all unsure about your commitment to your homebound other half, then it’s only fair that you make a clean break. Even if you swore undying love before you left, think how bad they’d feel if they knew you were just keeping this relationship afloat for the sake of one flaky promise.

Be nice: As for breaking the news, there’s no need to make them feel worse by announcing your intention to play the field (especially if you’re already doing so). Just be realistic about the situation, and stress that you both stand a better chance of happiness by parting company now.

Be strong: Of course it’ll hurt, but there is never a simple way of splitting up. It’s the downside of a relationship, but if you can handle the situation with honesty and respect then at least you can come out of this with your friendship intact. Consider the time and place before you break the news. Inviting them across the country just to ditch them in front of your new mates isn’t advisable, unlike travelling home to sort things out – where they can turn to friends and family once you’ve gone.

Photo of phones by Shutterstock.

Next Steps

  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
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Updated on 29-Sep-2015