Going from high school to college can be a huge transition. Not only will you have to figure out how to do your own laundry (don’t ever use bleach, use cold-cold for everything) and your diet will consist of all the different flavors of Ramen noodles (shrimp is delicious, add soy sauce or Sriracha sauce), but you may also find yourself having to deal with a younger boyfriend or girlfriend still in the trenches of high school life. Bridging this “great divide” can take some extra work on both of your parts, but no worries, we both promise that it can be done. Here are some tips:
Have a calling schedule. It doesn’t matter what time you and your partner agree to talk; just try to have a time and stick to it. The key to overcoming the distance is to keep each other involved in the other’s life. Tell them about the little things—what the food is like, how much you hate Ramen, even how gross your community bathroom is. Of course, the big things, like your new friends, parties and classes, are important too, but to maintain the closeness, each partner needs to feel a part of the other’s everyday life. Also, with a schedule, neither of you have to wonder about when the next time you hear from the other will be.
Understand the other person’s experience. Yes, your girlfriend or boyfriend may still be talking about homecoming and football games, but that does not make those any less valid than your fraternity party, all-night cramming session or mean RA. Accept that both of you are in completely different worlds right now and try to support each other as best you can. Remember, sometimes your partner does need you to solve everything, but many times, they just need you to listen them and validate whatever they are feeling.
Surprise each other. This can really help. Even if you can’t surprise them in person, surprise them with cookies, flowers, care packages or anything that will brighten their day.
Make sure both of you are aware of where the relationship is going. Look, long distance relationships require a big investment of time and effort. Before the school year starts, make sure this investment is worth it. Are both of you on the same page? If the high school partner decides not to go to the same college, can both of you deal with that?
Balance your commitments. Both partners need to maintain an active life outside of the partner. Whether it’s your freshman year of college or senior year of high school, we don’t want you to look back on the year and regret what you didn’t do. Keeping organized (cough, cough, calling schedule) will help you juggle your relationship with all of your commitments and keeping you from having any regrets.
Reconcile your insecurities. If you are feeling anxious about your partner spending time with other people while you’re away, remind yourself of your great qualities as a partner and trust your partner’s faithfulness, instead of trying to control who they can and cannot hang out with. No one wants to feel trapped by a controlling or overly needy partner, so communicate with them about your feelings without smothering them.
Remember, the stresses of a long distance, college-to-high school relationship does not mean that you ever deserve to be talked down to or criticized by your partner. No matter the situation, you always deserve a healthy and happy relationship.
Are you and your partner in different schools? Different age groups? What are ways that you make it work?