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Can Long-Distance Relationships Last through College?

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This Valentine’s Day, many students are taking a break from long nights at the library for an evening with their college sweetheart. Those in long-distance relationships, however, might not be so lucky. Being away from a loved one during college can be difficult—but can it still work? Read on as Harlan Cohen discusses college love and LDR’s in this excerpt from the New York Times bestselling guide, The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College.

Can LDRs last through collegeLong-distance relationships (LDRs) in college have never been so cheap and easy—that is, with free long-distance, live streaming video, email, text, Twitter, Facebook, cheap flights, and weekend visits. But still, the emotional toll of not being hand in hand, face to face, lips to lips makes it too hard for most couples to survive.

Some couples think that having a terrible time away from a partner is a sign of devotion. Not true—it’s just a sign that you need to work harder to find ways to be happy on your own. The best relationship is one where each partner can find new friends and a new life on campus away from each other. If each partner has a life on campus and still wants to stay together—that’s the sign of a lasting, loving, strong, and enduring relationship. Being miserable just means you are miserable—it’s not a sign of a good relationship. And if your partner ever makes you feel bad for being happy, that’s also not a good sign.

The hardest part of being in an LDR is all the emotions. LDRs can often isolate you from the world. Instead of thinking about college life and how to make a life in a new place, people tend to lean on their old relationships, which keep them from meeting other people who could become close friends. They can take up too much time and too much energy, and leave you feeling more alone and lost than ever once the relationship ends (and most do). They tend to become a crutch that keeps people from meeting new people and having new experiences. The flights, the road trips, the emotions, the good-byes—it’s hard, and for most people, it wears them down. And now, with so many ways to stay in touch via technology, it’s that much easier to be in one place physically, and somewhere else emotionally.

If you decide to do the long-distance thing, keep the following in mind: you must trust each other, talk about what is bothering you (never let it build up), be completely honest, and make sure you have a life outside of your relationship. If you want to take a break, be honest. Never, never, never cheat on your partner. Cheating will ruin everything that you’ve worked so hard to build during the relationship. Should you ever want to get back together, the violation of trust from the past cheating might make it too hard to pick up where you left off.

The best part: if you can survive the distance and make it through all the years apart, you’ll be that much stronger to spend years together down the road.

For more expert advice on college relationships, roommates, classes, and more, check out The Naked Roommate in the College Countdown Bookstore.

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Harlan Cohen is the author of The Naked Roommate series of books and is one of the most widely read and respected syndicated advice columnists for people in their teens and twenties. His column, "Help Me, Harlan!," is distributed by King Features Syndicate. Harlan regularly tours high school and college campuses giving presentations to students, professionals, and parents. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Follow Harlan on Twitter @HarlanCohen.

See the complete suite of Naked Roommate products in the College Countdown bookstore.