By Isabel Pulgarin
“Absence sharpens love. Presence strengthens it.” -Thomas Fuller
Sophomore graphic design student Alyssa Leal knows the breadth and depth of Fuller's words.
“My boyfriend and I first met back in our freshman year of high school and started dating officially since our senior year. We’ve been dating for almost 2 years now.”
Last August, her boyfriend, Sebastian, transferred from Florida International University (FIU) to Orlando’s University of Central Florida (UCF) for their better programs in his career path.
“The hardest part about long distance for me personally would be how some-
times we are both so caught up with school and our work schedules,” she said. “It’s not only hard to plan when we can see each other but it takes time away from how much we can spend talking to each other at night, whether it be because we are tired from our long or because we have homework or a test, which is completely understandable."
Staying positive can be hard. You are bound to feel lonely and sad at times, but it’s how you support yourself and your partner that counts.
Inspired by Leal and relationship writer Keay Nigel, here are six suggestions for your long-distance romances.
1. Stay in sync
Hang out with each other. Just because they can’t be physically there doesn’t mean they can’t still be there. FaceTime and videocall as often as you can. Be that person in the club and in the concert that calls their partner and puts their phone in the air to show them around.
“Every night we talk on the phone until we fall asleep and talk about our day. Occasionally we watch movies and TV shows through a software called Netflix Party which is great for anyone going through long distance,” said Leal.
2. Trust your partner and be honest
Establish boundaries and expectations. What are the commitment levels? Set ground rules so you both avoid any dangers in trust and feeling powerless when something happens without you there. Disclosing rather than withholding will do wonders for you both.
“Listen to your heart, but don’t just rely on it. Make sure you also listen to your mind,” wrote Nigel.
3. Visit each other whenever and wherever you can
Whether it’s halfway somewhere, in their area or yours, meet each other as long as you can carve out the time in your schedule. Go on dates. Have experiences together.
“The best part about [our relationship] is that whenever we are reunited, it’s as if the distance or time apart doesn’t affect us. Like if we spent every day together,” said Leal. “It honestly makes our relationship stronger, it builds trust, and builds independence.”
Use the times you meet up to go to new places and try new things. Make as many memories as you can together. And surprise each other occasionally.
“One of my favorite memories this year would be whenever he tries to plan a surprise visit. The weekend of Halloween was just that. I was heartbroken because I couldn’t spend my favorite holiday with my favorite person,” she said. “It was also a hard adjustment for me because we had only been dealing with the distance for a few months only, so it made me sad. Little did I know, the whole time he was texting and planning with all our friends and family his arrival. It’s a memory I’ll never forget, and I’ll cherish it forever.”
4. Have a spoken end goal
This journey is a learning opportunity for you both. So, look at it as one.
Talk about where the relationship is going because it’s inevitable that something or someone is going to give. You don’t necessarily have to make a timeline but establish what you both want from each other.
Love languages are good to know in general for any relationships you have, but they are definitely the key to long distance ones to make sure both your needs are met.
5. Exchange memories and mementos
Send them any pictures and video you come across that you’ll think will make them smile. iPhone has the feature where they share memories and even make video memories.
Exchange mementos and personal objects to give each other something physical to hold onto while you’re apart.
“Memories have power,” wrote Nigel.
6. Send letters and gifts
Nothing pulls at the heart strings more than reading the handwriting of a loved one and reading a letter in their voice. Sending surprise gifts and mailing letters are intimate ways to send love, taking it back to simpler times.
Just look at “Dear John” and “The Notebook.” Had Allie read Noah’s letters, they would have ultimately gotten together sooner rather than after she was already married. Noah even wrote a book about their love for him to remember and remind Allie every day after she gained Alzheimer’s.
The Buccaneer conducted a poll of 230 students and found about 46 percent of students have had dates virtually with about 53 percent saying they never had.
“One thing I will say about distance is that it is not easy. My advice for anyone who is about to go through it, or who is going through it, is to have trust in your partner. Don’t be scared to communicate any feelings you’re feeling good or bad,” said Leal. “Sebastian and I always try to remind ourselves that at the end of the day, we both truly love each other and plan to have a future together, no matter the distance, the journey will be worth it in the end and will make us stronger. There is no one I’d rather experience this with than him.”