Leaving your boyfriend's side for the holidays can feel like a sadistic remake of Christopher Nolan's movie, The Prestige. One moment, he's by your side constantly. He's the first person you call when you're losing your mind over an exam, the one you can rely on for a good popcorn fight or a star-watching adventure. He makes you laugh the most, and he knows all of your roommate drama, your pet-peeves, and your cheesy moves. He's your best friend.
Then, the holidays strike. Bye-bye boyfriend. What should have been a break from the stress suddenly feels bittersweet. You're closing the laptop on the last paper of the semester, vowing to never pull another all-nighter, and packing your bags with the apocalypse in mind. The moment finally arrives, and you exchange tearful goodbyes at the airport terminal with your significant other. Judging from the amount of tears shed, every onlooker thinks that you're hugging your military husband who's about to spend Christmas in a dug-out hole in the Middle East. But, in reality, you're just a new college couple experiencing your first long-distance stretch over the holidays.
And, it sucks.
Luckily, we've come up with a few tricks to pass the time, enjoy your holidays, and thrive as a couple. The most important thing to remember is that if both of you are in it, you can win it.
1. Connect them to your present.
Odds are, you and your boyfriend come from very different lifestyles. Your family rituals, home habits, and schedules are not going to line up over the break. For example, your family might travel a lot over break, while he enjoys the comfort of his own bed. You might be used to partying with your high school girlfriends night and day, but he's a homebody. One of you could be going through a major fallout with a family member that the other one just doesn't understand. Or, you might just want to bury your head in a book for the entire break and not talk to anyone.
As you settle back into your old routine and deal with new challenges, try to draw your significant other into the experience. Don't ghost because he "wouldn't understand." Share snaps of your waffle art, your cute dogs, or the 32 presents you bought for your cousins. Sharing even the little things can make a big difference in the overall health of your relationship.
2. Play games.
Whether you're naturally competitive or just like to spice things up a bit, try to download a game app together or initiate a question/answer game. Make fun (or sexy) stakes. Believe it or not, playing games together is one of the best and easiest ways to stay close over the holidays because it helps you to 1) stay engaged with each other, 2) initiate conversation when you inevitably run out of things to talk about, and 3) learn more about each other.
So, dust off your Words With Friends app, and play to win.
3. Bookend your day.
Always start the day with a "good morning" and end with a "good night." Even if you're not a big talker, it's nice to at least check in with your significant other every day. It lets them know that you remember and care. If nothing else, at least you'll know that they're still alive—right?
4. Resist the urge to be petty.
If you want to watch your relationship shrivel and die, then be petty. If he doesn't message you first thing in the morning, swallow your pride, and initiate the conversation. If you know that he will run into an ex at a social function, don't automatically assume the worst. One mental trick to employ in these situations is to always assume the best possible scenario. If it's 2 PM and you haven't heard a peep, assume he's probably doing what all boys do on break—hitting the snooze. If he sent you an ambiguous text, ask him what he meant before taking a jab. Unless you don't trust your S.O. (in which case—why are you dating them??) or you have good reason to believe otherwise, try to assume the best.
5. Adopt a TV show.
When my boyfriend and I spent a summer apart, we formally adopted Lost as our TV show. It had the perfect recipe for a couple-bonding show: romance, funny-one liners, character dilemma, cliff-hangers (but no jump-scares), and so many seasons that we could binge for days without running out of episodes. If you find a TV show that you can both get into, you may have just found the glue for your relationship. It's an emotional experience that you can text through, talk about, and experience together and apart.
There you have it. Going long distance isn't usually a walk through a park, but it doesn't have to be a death-march, either. Employ these simple tricks to stay close over the holidays, and share with your friends!