Dating

By Hannah Joseph

Dear Hannah,

I went back to school this fall and it’s creating a lot of tension in my two-year relationship. My boyfriend is really supportive and proud of me, but we just don’t get to spend as much time together as we did before. Actually, between my classes, my job, his job, and our commute (I live on the upper-west side in Manhattan and he lives in far Queens) we barely get to see each other at all. Weekdays are out of the question and most weekends I spend studying. When I do have a day off, we end up doing errands or wasting valuable time fighting because we’re both frustrated. I think the worst part of this is that there is no end in sight – I have at least another two years to go until graduation. Should I just let him go?

Cameron * 24, Manhattan queens

Dear Cameron,

Of all the trials that relationships go through, separation is by far one of the hardest. Whether it is physical, mental or emotional distance, all long-distance relationships face many of the same difficulties. In addition to the abrupt change in lifestyle, your daily support system is now missing a vital component. If you don’t see your significant other on a regular basis, you may even feel like you are already single. The relationship is losing excitement and isn’t as convenient as it once was. Ultimately, however, you are the only one who knows if you should stay with your boyfriend. If you do decide to stay with him, here are a few things that will help you make it through the cold winters until graduation.

First, set aside time to speak on the phone every night. If you’re not phone people, become them – it is more important than ever to maintain an emotional and mental connection when you’re physically apart. It will minimize fighting and you won’t spend the time you do have together playing catch up. Also, if you haven’t tried phone sex, now might be a good time to start. It reestablishes the mental associations you have built between your partner and personal sexual fulfillment. Emails, text messages and instant messages are also good communication tools, but be careful. Text and instant messaging depersonalizes fights and usually makes them much, much worse.

Also, make additional effort to get your errands done during the week. That means throw in the laundry while you study and use your commute to work and school diligently. No matter how tired you think you are Mondays through Fridays, you’ll feel much worse if you don’t get to enjoy at least some down time with your guy. If you know you will have a day together in advance, plan an activity that you’ll both enjoy. You’ll be much happier if you wake up early and spend the whole day together doing something fun than if you meet up halfway through the day with nothing to do. In the end, he’ll appreciate your efforts, and so will you.

Finally, pace yourself. Try to figure how long you will have until your schedule eases up – whether that be summer break or graduation – and plan accordingly. If you know what kind of timeline you’re looking at, you’ll have something to look forward to. Keeping a mental calendar will also make you a little more realistic about the relationship. If you won’t get to really be with him for at least another two years, and he’s not the one, you’ll want to end it before you waste any more time trying to revive a dying relationship. If you think he’s worth it, however, you’ll at least know that this situation, as long as it seems, is still temporary. Think over it carefully, and have a conversation with him. You’ll ultimately come up with a game plan – I have faith in you!

Best,

Hannah

* Name has been changed to ensure anonymity.

Originally published March 2009
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