Life

How To Make Your Study Abroad Romance Last

The sun is shining, summer is almost here, and with it, comes the question that thousands of college couples will face: should we stay together over the summer? In this week’s installment of Ro&Co, Arushi is back, and sharing her tips for handling a long-distance relationship.

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Hi! I’m so happy to write for Rosana’s blog again. Dating in college is a popular topic of discussion. Should you break up with your high school partner? Should you jump into a long-term relationship one week into college, or ~discover yourself~ and keep things casual?

I can’t answer those questions for you, but if at any point in your college life, you have faced the break up versus do long-distance dilemma, then I can help you get some clarity. I met my boyfriend when I was in Italy for study abroad, and although I’m back in Chicago now, we have been happily together ever since.

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The short answer is that there is no magic formula. There are many articles online that attempt to answer this question, but I didn’t find anything that I didn’t already know. Yes, you need to communicate well, have a long-term (or semi long-term) idea of where the relationship is headed, and know when you will see each other again. That’s the easy stuff. How about handling the stressful, emotional, hormonal, intoxicated mess that is college?

Every couple has different expectations and a different story, so I won’t tell you what you should do. Instead, here are 5 golden don’ts Google searches never told me:

Don’t be petty

I would highlight this point and have fifty neon arrows pointing toward it because that’s how important this is. Sometimes college can push you to the brink of absolute frustration, or you might be surrounded by people with their on-campus partners. It is also possible you’re occasionally jealous about people your partner interacts with in their social or professional surroundings.

While I can’t give you one specific solution on how to deal with all of that, I can tell you one thing: don’t be petty. If the good ol’ be-petty-to-get-attention monster creeps up on me, I usually check myself with this question: If he did the same thing, would it bother me? Doing or saying something just to get back at your partner never helps, and it is even harder to resolve when you cannot physically be with each other. Some people I have talked to told me they found themselves harmlessly flirting with people whenever they fought with their partner. As a general rule of thumb, if you fought with your partner this morning, intentionally leading on that flirty barista later on in the day is not going to help your relationship.

Don’t be stupid

You would think this is an intuitive one, but it’s really not. When I say don’t be stupid, I mean it in two ways. The first is more obvious: don’t put yourself in a situation that could end badly. Take your common sense–and if necessary, a friend you trust–to your ex’s party, for example.

The second way is not so obvious, but equally important. Don’t be stupid and forget about the other parts of your life that are important as well. College has so much to offer professionally, intellectually, and socially. Although long distance relationships require effort, it’s important to hold onto the other aspects of your life. You can Facetime the partner after your midterm tomorrow, and you can make time for lunch with your friends if you really try to. I usually maintain this balance by allotting time slots to things. For example, I could set an hour aside today to Facetime him, three hours for homework, and another hour to get food with a friend.

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Don’t do it because “Why not?”

Temptation is everywhere, but college is notorious for bringing out the demon. If your reason for doing long-distance is “why not?” or because you want to try and see how it will go, then it’s probably not a good call. If you don’t think that the person you’re with is your perfect match, and the only one for you, then that uncertainty will haunt you on bad days. This could lead to either resentment with an eventual breakup, or to one of you cheating with an eventual breakup. In my case, my boyfriend and I did not question the decision to do long distance for even a second when it was finally time for me to leave Italy. In fact, that certainty is what makes our bond stronger with each passing day.

Don’t forget it’s 2018

I’m not just talking about how lucky we are to have Skype, Facetime, instant messaging, and faster transportation. Indeed, in 2018, we don’t have to wait for our trusted owl to fly back with our lover’s winding letter written on the finest piece of parchment in all the land.

We also don’t have to forget to appreciate our partner once in a while. Sometimes, when my boyfriend is stressed about an exam, I order his favorite food on an Italian food delivery app and it reaches him while I’m sitting in another continent. On important days (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.), or when we just feel like it, we use Amazon or other websites to send small (or big) gifts, flowers, or anything else to show that we’re on each other’s minds even from so far away. Of course, this costs money, so we also remember to appreciate in non-monetary ways that aren’t exclusive to just 2018–like literally telling each other!

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Don’t give up at the slightest inconvenience

The internet will tell you not to give up on your relationship when you are deciding between starting long distance and breaking up. I’m telling you not to give up on your relationship at the slightest inconvenience when you have already made the decision to do long distance, i.e. don’t give up on the relationship just because it gets rough sometimes! Even the worst fight in the world can be overcome if you just communicate and remember how much you care about each other. Note: This does not apply if you’re being mistreated or abused.

Whatever you decide to do with your love life, remember that at the end of the day, your happiness matters the most. If you think being with your partner regardless of the distance is what will make you the happiest, then you know what to do! Much love.