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Long Distance Relationships

Last fall more than fifteen million students enrolled in the nation’s colleges and universities. How many of them will enter into long-distance relationships this summer?

Study results show that 78% of college students have had an LDR (long-distance relationship) at some point during their college career, and over 25% are in LDRs now. Obviously this population is prone to laughing in the face of a geographic challenge.

But do they know what they’re getting into? “They may not be familiar with the types of issues that crop up in LDRs,” says Caroline Tiger, author of "The Long-Distance Relationship Guide: Advice for the Geographically Challenged" (Quirk Books).

For example, how do they go about maintaining the level of intimacy they’re accustomed to? What if they can’t see each other every weekend?

How often should they talk on the phone? Tiger, an LDR expert, is well-equipped to answer these questions and many more. Here are her top five tips for surviving a summer-break LDR (long-distance relationship):

1. There’s no “right” number of times to call each other.

Some couples call each other at 10 p.m. exactly every night. Some leave a window of time open each night for their partner to call. Some talk every three days. Do what feels right for you, but make sure you talk about it early on and agree at the beginning of the summer about timing and frequency.

2. Don’t fight over e-mail.

Because there’s no voice inflection or body language to provide context, misunderstandings and arguments can happen way too easily. Here are some signs that you should cease and desist: CAPS (the equivalent of yelling) have crept into the exchange; emoticons went out the window a long time ago; you’re typing and hitting “Reply” without stopping to think.

3. Get a life.

Between visits, maintain your independence and individuality. Have a social life, hang out with friends—don’t just sit by the phone. Do things that your partner doesn’t like to do—is she allergic to peanut butter? Stock up on Skippy. Doesn’t like chick flicks? Invite some friends over for a Nora Ephron double-feature.

4. Keep the flame lit.

Go the extra mile with creative gestures that’ll reassure your LDP (long-distance partner) that he or she is in your thoughts. Send care packages that contain reminders of your shared history. Have lunch delivered to her at the office where she’s doing an internship. Burn him or her a CD.

5. When you do visit, don’t dwell on goodbyes.

“The goodbye can hang over your heads for half the weekend if you let it,” says Tiger. “Don’t. In an LDR, time is precious.” Spend the afternoon or morning before he or she leaves with friends. Do something active, in a group or with a few others, to keep your minds off of that moment. Treat it like it’s a Band-Aid that needs to ripped off…quickly!

About the Author: Caroline Tiger is a freelance journalist who has written for many publications, including Self, Marie Claire, Men’s Health, and Good Housekeeping. Her last book was "How To Behave: A Guide to Modern Manners for the Socially Challenged," also from Quirk Books.

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