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How to keep relationships alive, on campus and off

Thursday, July 28, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

Going away to college often causes an abrupt change in a relationship.

Sometimes it means leaving a high school boyfriend or girlfriend behind. Or it can involve coming to campus as a couple but having the rules change.

Here is a compilation of advice about relationships from students who learned a few hard lessons after they came to Mizzou.

SURVIVING A LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP

  1. Build trust. Without trust, it’s just not going to work. You will spend a lot of time apart, and it's impossible to stay in constant touch. You must give each other space to grow, and that depends on trust.
  2. Make time for each other.  Try to talk on the phone at least once a day. It may seem like a little thing, but it’s an important one. Hearing the voice from the person you miss can help, even if it's just to say goodnight.
  3. Do not rely on texting. Texting can be unreliable.  Messages can easily be misunderstood in a text or taken the wrong way. Real interaction is more important than being able to text every minute of every day. Plus, your friends on campus will be extremely annoyed if you're always glued to the phone.
  4. Use Skype. Talking face-to-face helps resolve problems. Talking on the phone is better than texting, and video-chatting is better than talking on the phone. A video chat at least once a week will make a difference. Seeing your significant other's face will allow you to connect, despite the distance.
  5. Don’t let the relationship hold you back. You have to make time to create a new life in college. This is where trust is so important. You must allow each other to meet new people and still make the relationship work. If you don’t, you could begin to resent each other.
  6. Keep busy. It is better to be distracted than to dwell on your significant other. If you are involved in activities, you will have less time to miss the other person. Remember, make time for each other, but build a life outside the relationship.
  7. Make visits a priority — but don’t visit too often. There is a balance. Seeing each other at least once a month is best, but each relationship has it’s own challenges. If you live close enough to each other and want to visit every weekend, try not to. It is important you each build your new lives in college.
  8. Remember that little things count. Sending a hand-written note or a care package can make a big difference — and not just for the girlfriend in the relationship. Noticing and celebrating small things can make up for missing each other during the bigger moments.
  9. Stay on the same page. If you are working toward common goals, things are going to go a lot more smoothly. You don’t have to plan a wedding, but if you have an idea of when a long-distance situation will end, it’s easier to handle it now.
  10. Know when to let it go. If it’s not working out, it’s OK. You gave it a try, and maybe it’s time to end it. Don’t be ashamed; every relationship is different. Don’t let yourself be tricked by trips home where things are back to “normal.” If it's not working when you’re apart, it's time to decide if it’s worth it when you’re together again.

BRINGING A HIGH SCHOOL RELATIONSHIP TO COLLEGE

  1. Set boundaries.  Spend time together, but spend time away from each other as well. Set boundaries in the beginning so you don’t offend the other when you need alone time. Designate a few nights a week for alone time or time with other friends.
  2. Don’t blow off your friends. You don’t need the same friends. Meet new people, and hang out in different groups. Make sure to make time for your friends, old and new. Have a girls’ night/guys’ night once in a while.
  3. Get involved in separate activities. You don’t have to go to every club meeting and every class together. Spend enough time apart that each has personal interests.
  4. Don’t move in together. If you live together, you are less likely to get out and meet new people. It could be tempting without Mom and Dad around, but remember to set boundaries until you get used to college life.
  5. School comes first. College-level work is a big change from high school. You may be surprised at the amount of work to do. Be sure the relationship doesn't trump schoolwork.

STAYING IN TOUCH WITH HIGH SCHOOL FRIENDS

  1. Check in regularly. Try to text good friends at least once a week. Check in and see what’s going on so they don’t feel forgotten, yet understand that you will be building new lives.
  2. Start a Facebook message feed. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with multiple friends at once. Update your friends on what is going on in your life and ask questions about them. You don’t have to update it constantly, but remember to check it regularly.
  3. Don’t be jealous of new friendships. Be prepared for change, and go with the flow. You have new friends, and they have new friends. Remember your high school relationships will always have a special place in your life.
  4. Make time for each other over breaks. This is a good time to catch up with high school friends, when everyone is home. Eventually, people will stop coming home on breaks, so be sure to take advantage of them while you can.
  5. Visit each other. Even if you see a friend once a year, it can make a difference. It’s fun to show them where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing, and vice-versa.

Bridget Murphy is a junior at MU. She has been in a long-distance relationship since her freshman year.


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Comments

Bri Robinson August 23, 2011 | 12:46 p.m.

I will have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 4 years this coming December. He goes to school at Oklahoma State and is a year older than me so we've only dated in the same state for about 6 months before he left for college. Its rough, but everything that was said in the long-distance section is 100% works. As I was reading through it I could mentally check each of them off in my head as things my boyfriend and I do. This is a great article!

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