Nearly four years ago, I asked a boy I liked, “Are you my boyfriend?” through Snapchat. I was a junior in high school, so cut me some slack.

Throughout our years together, my ability to openly and honestly speak has not faded. If you’re wondering, he said yes to my abrupt and forward question. I give this attribute of mine some credit for the success of our relationship.

Effective and thorough communication is absolutely essential for any relationship to work, especially with 122 miles in between each other.

My boyfriend and I have been in a long-distance relationship for a year and a half. There have been both ups and downs, but we’re working with what we’ve got. Going to college, neither of us had any idea of how tough a long-distance relationship was going to be. It started out a bit tricky, but we worked together and adjusted to the change.

If you’re looking for some advice, or just need to know there are other couples out there who understand how difficult long-distance relationships can be, here are my tips for dating despite the distance.

I can’t call myself an expert, or even an amateur, at long-distance relationships, but I can say I’ve learned.

Staying attentive

Successful long-distance relationships require awareness. Both partners should pay close attention to each other’s schedules. I made a copy of my class schedule for my boyfriend, so he knows when to call and when I’m busy. In return, every week, I ask him when he is scheduled to work. This adds a bit of organization to our relationship.

Attentiveness to your significant other’s workload is essential too. If I know he worked an 11-hour shift, I’m not going to call and complain about the five hours I spent studying at the library. It is incredibly important to be aware and respectful of each other’s stress level.

Being comfortable with communication

Communication is a necessity. Our generation is lucky to have access to forms of technology that make communicating so simple, so take advantage of it. Call your boyfriend or girlfriend often; tell them about your day and ask them about theirs.

When arguments or disagreements come up, communicate meaningfully. Pursuing a degree is a difficult and time-consuming process, but don’t let it get in the way of a good relationship. Take the time needed to fix misunderstandings. Avoid impulsive or irrational decisions. Think things through.

Going the extra mile

Spontaneity or surprises do wonders for long-distance relationships. I like to send my boyfriend things in the mail, like letters or random gifts. It’s important to remind your significant other they’re on your mind, regardless of your busy schedule.

While away at school, take care of yourself, but don’t forget to be there for them.

Keep their needs in mind, such as extra moral support. My boyfriend knows I’m a bit of a stress head, so he always checks up on me and reminds me my mental health is just as important as school.

Being grateful

If you’re a sappy, hopeless romantic like I am, remember the distance between you and your significant other could be greater.

Before I get emotional after watching a rom-com, I remind myself how I’m in a good place. My boyfriend and I are lucky that only 122 miles separate us and that we both have cars and the ability to drop in on one another to visit should the need arise.

Learning from experience

I am by no means a relationship guru, but I have learned a lot since I’ve been away at school. Long-distance relationships can be challenging, but there are plenty of ways to ensure that yours is healthy and enjoyable. Always remember teamwork is absolutely essential for any relationship.

Work together, respect one another and learn as you go.

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