Going into my freshman year of college, my boyfriend of three years and I decided that we really wanted to make things work. We were nervous, scared, and sick to our stomachs thinking about just what a year apart may do to us. We knew going into this journey together would be far from easy, but luckily, we came out of it even stronger than we started.

Here’s what I learned about myself and our relationship after spending a year apart.

1. Jealousy is the enemy.

To start off, I would consider myself to be an incredibly jealous person. However, I didn’t realize how much it would truly affect me until I went away to college. Just the thought of Jackson going out and meeting new people (and possibly new girls) would put knots in my stomach, but in order to keep things working, I needed to let that jealousy go and remind myself that Jackson is incredibly selfless and committed to me.

2. Communication is key.

I cannot stress this one enough, COMMUNICATION IS KEY! There have been days where our schedules were incredibly hectic, and it was difficult to carve time out for each other, but even just little good morning and goodnight texts make a difference. If you're walking from one class to the next, try to call them on your way. You’d be surprised by what a five-minute conversation on the phone can do, especially in times of extreme stress.

3. Trust is everything.

In order for your relationship to grow, you need to be able to trust your partner. If you’re even considering trying a long distance relationship with someone you can’t trust, don’t even bother. It will end ugly, and you will get hurt. If you ever have any doubts about trusting your partner or yourself, you both need to reevaluate your relationship.

4. Long distance is expensive.

Whether your flying, driving, or taking a train to your partner, it won’t be cheap. If you plan on visiting your loved one often over the school year, save as much money as you can. Plus, if you're anything like me and love to send little gifts, that favorite candy bar your boyfriend/girlfriend loves adds up after the 6th or 7th time sending it. Save wisely!

5. Sacrifice

Long distance relationships are all about sacrifice. In order to have more time together or to speak more frequently/for longer periods of time, you need to sacrifice something. Whether it’s money, your time with new friends, or even sleep, you’ll end up losing one (or all three) of those things. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before you start.

6. Putting too much pressure on your partner only results in negativity.

When you put too much pressure on your boyfriend/girlfriend to make time to speak to you, you may be pushing them away. If your partner is truly and 100% committed to making things work, I can promise you that they find any and every chance they get to talk to you, and when you make them feel bad for not putting enough into the relationship, it will only hurt you. They love you just as much as you love them, so cut them some slack.

7. Daily phone calls/Facetimes are necessary.

Although texts may seem good enough, a phone call or Facetime makes you feel so much closer to them. Just seeing them smile or laugh can turn your entire day around, and that’s something you won’t get out of a text. Even if you can just talk for 10 minutes before you both go to bed, it’s always worth it.

8. Independence is crucial.

Yes, it does feel nice to be able to sit down after a long and stressful day and cry to your partner over how much work you have in the next coming week, but the point that most people overlook in a long distance relationship is to allow yourself to grow independent and be able to do things without your partner. You cannot always rely on your partner because of how different schedules (or time zones) may be. It’s not like you can drive over to their house and cuddle your problems away, so you need to find a way to handle some situations on your own.

9. Make time for your partner, but don’t let it consume your life.

Making time for your partner is incredibly important, but when it starts to interfere with you being social or making new friends, it may hurt you. As I mentioned in number 8, you need to learn to be independent away from your partner. College is all about expanding your horizons and meeting new and potential life-long friends. Take advantage of it and don’t let your partner hold you back from making great connections with new friends.

10. In the end, it’s always worth it.

No matter what, seeing my boyfriend after being months apart is easily the most amazing feeling. Every day that we spend apart just makes me love and miss Jackson even more. Although it can get incredibly difficult sometimes, I would never want to be apart from him. I know that if we continue to love, trust, and sacrifice for each other, it will always be worth it.