Long-distance relationships don’t have to feel far apart

Katie Langley, Associate News Editor

362 miles.

Illustration by (Emma Kogel)

That’s the distance separating me and my long term partner, a student at McGill University in Montréal, Québec. That’s not to mention an international border and a pandemic between us.

Apart from the tedious six-hour road trip, travel restrictions are constantly in flux between countries. Until recently, travelers were required to get a PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival to enter Canada from the U.S., which was often expensive and hard to come by.

Despite this challenge, my friends know me to spontaneously drive to a different country on the weekends to see my girlfriend when the daily stress of college gets too overwhelming.

I won’t tell you it’s not difficult; it’s hard feeling that the person who knows you better than anyone else is far away. I often feel like I’m missing out on her life, our lives together – things as mundane as having coffee together in the morning or movie nights not separated by a FaceTime screen.

Due to the ever-changing reality of COVID-19 and us both being full-time college students with responsibilities like tests, work and extracurriculars, it can be months between cross-border visits.

According to Dating at a Distance, as many as 75% of college students have been in a long-distance relationship at some point considering it’s not uncommon for students to decide to go out-of-state or out-of-country for school. There is hope. Refinery29 reported that more than half of long distance relationships stick for the long term, and distance has no correlation to relationship quality or levels of intimacy, satisfaction and trust. A long-distance relationship can be just as strong as any other.

But it doesn’t come without effort. If you value your relationship, you will put in the work despite the distance. With so many couples forced apart by school, work and the pandemic, it’s important to find ways to feel connected to your partner every day. Here are a few that I’ve found helpful.

1. Cyber-romance

FaceTime. Skype. Zoom. In this age, there is a plethora of web resources for nightly talks and online date nights.

Aside from daily debriefs about our days, my partner and I also video call to help sustain a sense of normality. Whether it’s a casual study session, a comfy movie night or an intimate cyber date, the internet can help make separate feel less isolated. We love Teleparty and the Disney+ Groupwatch function for watching shows and movies together.

A date can be two people in two different countries watching “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” together or reading each other BuzzFeed quizzes to find out what “Schitt’s Creek” character you are. Finding something that makes you both laugh won’t necessarily fill the void of your loved one, but it will help to make the distance a little less difficult.

2. Look to the future, but don’t neglect the present

When you miss someone, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking about how much you can’t wait to be in their space. I often catch myself thinking “Everything would be better if my partner was here.” But basing your happiness or mental health on one factor is a slippery slope that can lead todisappointment. Instead, talk about your future life together; getting a cat, coming home to each other, being an arms- length from the one you love. However, don’t forget to also support each other’s individual lives, dreams and aspirations.

3. Little acts of kindness

My partner and I send letters to each other like we’re away at war in the 1800s. If you’ve ever received a surprise message in the mail, you know how it can make your day just a little bit brighter. We can’t shy away from being sappy and lovey-dovey when we’re over 300 miles away. Some of thebest things don’t cost money; I make playlists for her all the time, and we use the NoteIt app to leave each other pictures and notes on our phones’ home screens.

If you feel like splurging on your long-distance beau, try sending them a stuffed buddy through SendAFriend or a customizable care package from Happy Box. Something as small as messaging your partner compliments or things that made you think of them throughout the day can help them feel important and cared for.

Despite what society may tell us, long-distance relationships are survivable, and healthy partnerships are worth it –- no matter the distance. When it comes to your private relationship, no one but you and your partner can tell you how to make it fulfilling. So whether you’re a world away from them or your partner is sitting right next to you, do something kind for them today.