Long Distance Fear

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Dear Hoopers,
I would appreciate your advice so much! My boyfriend and I are in a long-distance relationship and it’s hard but we make it work because of our strong feelings for each other. However, our relationship had a tough start when it became long distance. We started dating senior year of high school. We were best friends first and sacrificed a lot going into it. When it came time for us to go to off to college, we pushed the conversation off as long as possible. All of our friends in relationships were breaking up for school. When we finally had the conversation, we decided we didn’t want to break up because of how much we care for each other, mumbled some words, and that was it. He went to school a week earlier than I did and when he left I sobbed. I finally went to school and we were both so busy that we talked less and neither of us said “i love you” for weeks.

Eventually, I found out through other sources that he had two one night stands in the first week of college (no sex) after parties. We had misunderstood each other in our conversation and he thought that we were open, while I thought we were exclusive. I was devastated. He said to me once that he thought of me during and after the hookups and thought I was doing the same thing at school because I stopped saying I love you. Maybe I did cut him off a little bit to make things easier for me, but what I have such trouble with is how it seemed so easy for him to be with TWO others after what we had. I didn’t stop crying once. However, it became a little clear to me that he did care and his asshole status was maybe a front. His sister told me he called him crying and his roommate said he punched a hole in the wall. Later, we talked and he said he wanted to be together but didn’t know how to be in an exclusive relationship so he either wanted to be open or broken up. Because I care about him so much, I chose to be open (with rules). In that time, we both hooked up with two other people. When he found out that I got with someone else, he cried and booked a flight to see me and begged to be exclusive.

Now it’s months later and we are exclusive and so in love and I can tell he truly truly cares about me and is faithful to me. He says it took being with those other girls to realize how I’m the only girl he wants to be with. However, I think about his first week at school way too often and he gets so angry when I bring it up. What I can’t stop thinking about is: did he truly think of me when he was with those girls? When I confronted him about those first two girls, why did he then need to be open and why didn’t he realize then that he wanted to only be with me? I picture him with those girls and ask myself these questions way too often to the point where I become sick to my stomach. It’s only a problem when we’re apart from each other…when we’re together or on FaceTime, we are having the most amazing time and so happy together that the past is not an issue. But when I’m alone, my anxiety races. I can’t ask him these questions, but I know he truly loves me and cares about me and he says how stupid he was. I can’t ask my friends because they are so unhelpful. Please help me with some outside, intelligent advice to finally put my mind to rest. I would appreciate it so much and be so happy!! Thank you in advance.
-Long Distance Fear

Dear Long Distance Fear,
You’ve entered a time of great transition in your life. Transition out of high school, into college and trying to sustain a relationship while embarking on individual experiences. It’s not easy! It sounds like the boundaries in communication upon leaving for college were unclear. This murkiness led to questionable decisions and sparked distrust and unrest in both of your lives. When it comes to long-distance relationships, communication and expectations have to be clear! It’s hard enough to experience the separation and growth that is taking place away from one another.

Mistakes happen and no relationship is perfect. What separates a relationship that thrives from one that fails is how you deal with the hurdles. In this case it seems as though you both have decided to try to make this relationship work. So how will you move it forward? Dwelling on past issues that you cannot control will only cramp your love. If you feel you need to address the issue and get more closure on the issue, then it’s worth having another discussion with your boyfriend.

Dwelling on past issues that you cannot control will only cramp your love.


Eventually you will need to move forward from the debilitating insecurities and anxieties that you are allowing from this experience. Remind yourself that your boyfriend is with you. You are committed to one another. Mistakes happen and reliving an event that you cannot control is an unnecessary evil. College is a time to spread your wings and expand your mind. If you find you are saturated in overwhelming thoughts and the anxiety continues because of your long-distance relationship, you may need to rethink your future together.

Dear Long Distance Fear,
The immense excitement and freedom that comes with freshman year arrival at college is hard to describe. After being relegated to the restraints of your hometown and high school, going to college is a whole new world. Attempting to maintain a long-distance relationship is hard enough as it is, but when combined with this new world of college it can be extremely difficult.

But it is possible! If you two are committed to making it work, it can work. General guidelines for making a long-distance relationship survive include top-notch communication and creating amazing quality time when you have the chance. Use many different forms of communication to keep things fresh including text, social, and facetime. Look for unique ways to visit each other when you can, including long weekends and holidays.

General guidelines for making a long-distance relationship survive include top-notch communication and creating amazing quality time when you have the chance.

-Dr. Ryan

There is no easy solution to your separation anxiety. A foundation of trust is the only way to allay your fears, and even then you can never know for sure. Remember that we have no guarantees in a relationship, only your history together and your commitment to each other. Remain in open communication about how things are going and let him know when you have serious doubts. Otherwise, let loose and enjoy college (and your relationship). This time is about growing and learning. I’m sure that this relationship will be a part of that learning process, it will just take time to figure out what the lesson is.
-Dr. Ryan