For some reason, we have created this idea that doing a long distance relationship in college will be easy or doable for everyone as long as you can make time to FaceTime each other regularly. We act like this is the only thing you have to do to hold a serious relationship together. And, let's face it, if you're willing to do long distance in college, it is a serious relationship and you probably see it going toward forever because if you didn't, you wouldn't be willing to work at it as much as you have to to keep it alive.
I've been in an LDR for two years now, starting on three, and in that time I've learned a lot more than I even knew was possible. I've become close personal friends with heartbreak and pure joy, I've found out what it's like to really commit to something or someone, I've seen the importance of being in the physical presence of another person, and I've learned how to be my best self.
Anyone who tells you that being in an LDR doesn't hurt is lying. It is one of the hardest, most painful things I have ever done. Knowing the person you love and need the most isn't anywhere close to you is a terrifying and horribly sad thought. You learn to lean on friends when you can, but nothing can substitute for your S/O. You find yourself resenting couples walking around campus, happy and in love. Even during your most fun and joyful moments, there is a tinge of sadness because you can't help thinking how much more fun and great that moment would be if your S/O could share it too. You'd rather rip your heart out of your chest than leave your other half because, honestly, that would probably hurt less. Being in an LDR is like being stabbed slowly, just enough to sting slightly most of the time with sharp bursts of pain sometimes.
And what do you do about it? You keep hanging on. A big part of your relationship surviving the heartbreak of an LDR is both of you being stubborn and determined to stick it out and not to let the pain get the better of you. You can't FaceTime away that hurt (although, it certainly doesn't hurt to try).
It takes a lot of work. You both have to be wiling to make sacrifices you never dreamed of making. Sometimes, that sacrifice is time, sometimes it's money, sometimes it's something else. Any long distance relationship that isn't made of two people wiling to give up just about anything for each other isn't going to make it. Your LDR needs the same kind of commitment as your classes; you have to work hard at it and you have to do it a lot.
On those rare, blissful occasions when you're actually physically together, the sad creeps back in because you know that it won't be long before you're apart again. You have to be willing to deal with it and to set all of that aside. It's enough to drive you crazy. You learn quickly how much a hug means to you when your favorite hugger is 300 miles away. You can't recreate the easy silence you get when you're with each other during a FaceTime. And that's just another thing that you have to be OK with.
You also learn a lot about singleness. Because other than the fact that you aren't actively looking for someone to be with because that place in your heart is already filled, you still don't exactly have an S/O in the "normal" way. I know for me, I've learned that, while I could do everything without my boyfriend, I'd rather not. But, I know that I could. And I know who I am apart from another person. But this can honestly be the suckiest part of an LDR too. Because single people, while it sucks to have to wonder if you're ever going to find anyone, can at least be looking and actively trying. Those of us in an don't have that option; it's just another piece of the heartbreak aspect that we learn to deal with.
Basically, if you want your LDR to work, you can't just rely on FaceTime. You've got to be willing to deal and to be better for someone else. You've got to be willing to give up things and to take on a fair amount of heartache all in exchange for this other person that you love. For me, I can't imagine anything else. I couldn't give my boyfriend up even if I wanted to — and we're still working on mastering some of the lessons I mentioned. If you think it's going to be easy, it isn't. But, if you really love the other person, then it doesn't matter because it'll be worth it.