My experience with a long distance relationship began my junior year of college during a semester abroad in Santiago, Chile. Aside from the inordinate amount of studying, my time semester abroad was a typical one...until I met Andrés.
I can remember the first time I saw him in class one day. Somewhere between us exchanging numbers and going on an impromptu salsa-dancing outing, we totally clicked. Soon we were getting together almost every day for the rest of the semester.
It was funny because I never had any intention of being in a relationship while abroad. It seems most relationships that happen abroad are just flings. But with Andrés it was different.
We weren’t sure what would happen at the end of the semester, and the date of my returned flight loomed closer, we decided to try keeping a long-distance relationship. Except this one was long, long, long, long distance, and neither of us knew what to expect.
Somehow over that last two years we have made it work. Along the way I learned some strategies for coping when your boyfriend is far away.
Use communication technology. Believe it or not there are some benefits to long-distance dating. Recent research in the Journal of Communication indicated that long distance romance fostered deeper and more intimate verbal communication.
In the era of free Skype video chat, free Internet texting apps, and email, it is easier than ever to stay connected. Sometimes Andrés and I just leave Skype video chat on while we study. That way we can share a smile every now and then or laugh together if we think of something funny. After all, sometimes it’s just about being present for the other.
Have quality communication. Since you're talking more, take time to talk about things that are really important. What does your boyfriend think about family? What does he want in the future? Are you compatible on what matters most? If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, now is the perfect opportunity to find out.
Also use snail mail. Letter-writing may be a dying art, but if you’re in a long-distance relationship, it's a worthwhile practice. There is just something special about holding and reading a letter handwritten by your loved one. When I read through my stack of letters from Andrés it is almost like looking at photographs of the relationship itself—where he was emotionally when he wrote it and how our relationship has grown and deepened.
Find ways to have fun together and make memories. It can be hard to keeps things fresh and exciting when you are so far apart but with modern technology there are so many ways to keep in touch beyond just chatting. Stream movies simultaneously. Get a good Words with Friends game going. Cook the same meal simultaneously, and enjoy dinner “together” while on video chat. Or read the same book, a few chapters a week and talk about it together.
Regardless of your proximity now, everyone’s relationships will go long-distance at some point. Whether its a week long business trip or years spent across the world, staying close from afar can be a worthwhile endeavor.