Student Life

How to make a long-distance relationship work as a student

Having a long-distance relationship while in school can be hard, but it's not impossible.

Feb 29, 2016

Everyone knows long-distance relationships suck, but long-distance relationships while you’re a student are even worse. Before I met my boyfriend Matt, I was so busy trying to get an education, work, and raise a two year old on my own that a relationship was the last thing on my mind. But just moments after our first date, I can remember excitedly calling my best friend to tell her I’d found someone special.

The only downside: we live five hours apart.

The worst part about being in a long-distance relationship is that the drive is brutal—hello gas prices!—and we only get to see each other for a couple days a month at most.

Communication is Key

The weeks in between our visits are always tough, but we’ve learned to stay connected by regularly calling each other, texting, having Skype dates, and even sharing short videos about the highlights of our day. Yes, it feels a little weird filming myself on my iPhone in the middle of a crowded hallway, but it helps us participate in the everyday with each other.

We make an effort to communicate clearly and frequently to keep our relationship strong and healthy.

Since we live so far apart, we also have to get creative when it comes to going on dates. We make little challenges to complete over the month like photo scavenger hunts, who can make the best cardboard fire truck, and baking cookies through Skype. I’m not gonna lie, not all my date ideas work out (dear Skype, please get a more reliable connection). But even so, we can’t help but laugh at our antics which makes the distance feel just a little smaller.

The fact that we have to put thought into planning creative activities and can’t just fall back on dinner and a movie means that we both have to actively participate in the relationship.

Balancing School and a Relationship

Balancing Matt and school has also been a challenge. We always set our next in-person date weeks in advance, but the closer I get to that date the more assignments I seem to get. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is homework when we’re together, but school is definitely my first priority.

If you're with anyone worth keeping, they’ll support you in this. Sometimes we’ll have study dates together, or discuss a lecture I attended, or he’ll help me work through cue cards. It’s important to engage your partner in your education because it’s a pretty important part of your life.

It’s Totally Possible to Make Long-Distance Work

I watch a lot of the Canadian Youtuber Vloggingblonde because she’s in a long-distance relationship with a guy in Switzerland and is really open and honest about her experience. She’s also got the world’s cutest dog. She makes me feel more normal, even though I have a boyfriend five hours away. It can be helpful to see how other people manage long-distance relationships, and to know that other people can make it work.

I’m living, breathing proof that it’s possible to have a strong, healthy long-distance relationship while you’re a student. It may not always be easy, but Matt and I make a solid effort every day to communicate with each other, share our experiences, and celebrate each other’s successes.

We also really trust one another, and that’s key. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the moment I see Matt step out of the truck after our month apart, I know this is true.


University of Alberta

Think being a student is hard? Try being a full time single mom too! I juggle potty training, working, and a full course load.

Check out Sarah's profile »»