As the semester comes to an end and students pack up and get ready to head elsewhere for the summer months, it can mark the beginning of long-distance relationships for some K-State students.
The common stereotype says that long-distance relationships don’t work out, and it’s no secret that they can be difficult. But as students from across the world gather in Manhattan, they are bound to happen. With the emergence of new technology and the right mindset, attitude and facts, many couples can make it through the summer months apart.
One of the cardinal rules of long-distance relationships is communication, said Dorinda Lambert, director of counseling services.
“The biggest mistake that couples make is that they do not communicate what their expectations are and that they begin to make assumptions about each other,” Lambert said. “The assumptions are usually that they will only be thinking about each other while they are gone and that they won’t have any social activities while they are away from each other.”
A lack of communication can doom a relationship from the start, especially when distance added to the equation, Lambert said.
“Couples who lack that right mindset and expectations usually jump immediately into conclusions about unfaithfulness,” Lambert said. “Be clear what your expectations are during the summer and when you get back to campus.”
Setting expectations for each other will lay the foundation of the relationship for the next couple months. Expectations could include anything from how often the couple will communicate to what kinds of interactions are appropriate with the opposite sex.
When there is a lack of physical contact, the communication aspect of the relationship becomes more important, said Stephanie Iszory, junior in biology.
“Try and keep in contact even if it’s just texting or mailing a letter to each other. It’s the small things we do to still make each other feel special,” Iszory said.
Iszory has been in a long distance relationship with her boyfriend for the past year. She is currently living in Manahttan while he attends law school in Chicago.
Calling and texting keeps them feeling close, Iszory said, adding that doing small, romantic things can help couples feel connected when miles apart.
“He’ll order me Jimmy John’s if he knows that I missed dinner or send me flowers if I’ve had a rough week,” Iszory said.
There are many small things couples can still do together even though they are apart, such as watching TV shows or movies together at the same time, ordering each other flowers or food, writing love letters or reading a book together.
“Long distance relationships require creativity as a couple,”Lambert said. “Communicate what you two like and do not like to do.”
And of course creativity is made a little easier with the abundance of social media. E-mail, video messages, Facebook and Twitter are just a few ways couples can stay connected when the physical aspect of the relationship is not possible.
Another important factor of long distance relationships to consider is the fact that both partners will have separate social lives for the summer.
“Being apart this year has proven that we can both be independent and lead separate social lives without growing apart,” Iszory said. “We are open to each other about everything and we allow each other to be ourselves.”
Getting into arguments while living miles apart can be a difficult challenge, Iszory said.
“I like to deal with issues in person, and that’s obviously not an option when we’re so far apart,” Iszory said. “My advice if you get into arguments over the phone would be to hang up and cool down for a couple minutes, and then call each other back and try to resolve the argument.
Although living apart from a partner for any length of time can be a challenge, there are many tools available to help partners connect across a state, nation or country. Living apart can even help a relationship grow stronger, Iszory said.
“We’ve been together for two years, and it is difficult not seeing each other every day, but it’s always so exciting to see him when I get the chance, and it really has made us stronger,” Iszory said.