Having a relationship over a geographic distance is quite common these days, but is usually not easy. There are many factors that affect the quality and long-term success of these kinds of relationships. It sounds like the fact that this relationship will be long distance for some period of time is pretty much a given. It’s what you have to work with so approach it with confidence and optimism. Why not? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking a positive attitude toward the situation.
The two of you have several things going in your favor. For one, it sounds like you have a solid, loving, healthy relationship and that you are both committed to one another and to the relationship. Second, you have healthy and self-enhancing reasons for needing to be apart. You have similar goals—to pursue higher education and become the professionals you want to be—and the educational portion of your journey will be time-limited, even though it make take place over a couple of years. At some point you will both be done and can decide where you want to start your lives together.
If one of you finishes your degree before the other, you have the option of joining your partner in their location for the duration of their education, perhaps pursuing work experience or simply being together for a time to enjoy and grow the relationship. It also helps if you both have similar ideas about where you might want to live when you are both ready to settle into your professional careers.
The risks of being in a long distance relationship are obvious: You miss the daily presence and face-to-face contact of being with each other. You can’t do things together except during visits when you travel to one another’s homes or meet somewhere else for vacation. One of the things people report missing most is, of course, physical touch, cuddling and sexual intimacy with one another.
Fortunately, there are even more ways to connect and span the distance than there used to be even 10 or 20 years ago. I’m sure you are both comfortable and familiar with technology that allows you to connect. Email, texting, IM-ing, Skype and even the good old telephone can help you stay connected on a daily basis. I encourage you to set “dates” for longer and more intimate conversations—preferably with Skype, where you also have visual contact, or by telephone. Texting can’t trump the quality of voice-to-voice communication. Naturally, traveling to be together at a frequency that you can afford within your budget is also key to keeping some natural quality and flow to your togetherness– and it doesn’t have to be 50/50. If one of you has a more flexible schedule or more financial resources this is the time to be unselfish about how you share those resources.
There are many reasons why long distance relationships fail. Many people have intimacy needs that just cannot be adequately met over a distance for a longer period of separation and may realize this sometime after the move. Occasionally, one partner may happen to meet another person who is very interesting to them and much more available. They may decide to pursue that relationship instead yours. Other times long distance relationships suffer from miscommunication problems. Text, email and other technological forms of communication often can’t communicate humor or nuances of emotional tone, often leading to misunderstandings.
There is no way of saying for sure if your particular relationship will survive and remain healthy, but the more the two of you can communicate about these things before you move, the better chance you having of going the distance.