Surviving a Long Distance Relationship

When I arrived in Chicago last July, I was surprised to find that long distance relationships seem to be a trend among young people starting their careers in the city. A number of new grads opt to relocate for career opportunities while leaving significant others behind to finish school or wrap up other obligations. I'm still living a time zone away from my boyfriend (I'm in Chicago while he's wrapping things up in Michigan before moving here later this month), but over the past year, I've gained some insights through my own experiences and conversations with friends.
  1. The distance will make or break your relationship. Long distance relationships take a lot of commitment—they force you to put things in perspective. If you can make it work, your relationship will be better for it.
  2. Trust each other. Since you can't always be there, be open about what you're up to and trusting of each other. Don't try to be controlling or overbearing. Just be honest.
  3. You shouldn't see each other every weekend. Adjusting to a new city and beginning new friendships takes time, and it's next to impossible to build those relationships and establish yourself in a new city if you're leaving every weekend.
  4. Consider your cell phone plan. Waiting for your free minutes to begin each day will only add to the stress of being far away. See if you can work out a plan to talk for free. Text messages are also a great way to communicate the small thoughts throughout the day.
  5. Find new ways to communicate. If you have a webcam, this is a great way to have a "face to face" conversation. If you come across interesting articles or news online, email them to each other. You can also try choosing a book for both of you to read. I've found that these have all been helpful ways to stay connected despite the distance.
  6. Talk about it. It helps to know that you're not alone—I've been lucky enough to have friends in a similar situation to talk with.
  7. Know when the distance will end. Having an end date in mind has always helped me. It's nice to know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
I'll be honest, long distance relationships are not easy. If I could have avoided the distance, I would have. Still, you should never be forced to choose between your career and your relationship. It takes a lot of work to be successful at both, but it can be done.

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