Q: I'm a 22-year-old guy looking to get my degree out of state soon, and I am worried that it will negatively affect my relationship. I've been with my girlfriend for a few years and I would like to stay together.
Do you have any tips for us about how to make it work? She's nervous that I'll be tempted by other girls at school, and I'm afraid that she will get bored waiting for me.
– D.E., Amherst
A: It sounds to me like both of you are young, have been together for a long time, and probably don't have much experience with dating other people. Long-distance relationships are hard work, especially when you're in college.
If you want the relationship to work, you have to have three solid factors working in your favor: good communication, trust and respect. While you need not have long-winded conversations every single day, it's important to keep the lines of communication open and active. Thoughtful e-mails and text messages during times when it's inconvenient to talk on the phone will show her that you're thinking about her even when you can't actually speak to her.
When you do have the time to talk, be sure to fill one another in on the details and tell her about your classes, new friends, etc. It's also important to talk about how you're feeling about the relationship, and express any concerns.
Trust is important because you have to believe that your partner is behaving and acting appropriately; this falls along the lines of open communication.
You must also be respectful of one another's feelings. If you know your girlfriend is going to be uneasy about something you're doing, talk with her about it instead of getting upset with her. Put yourself in her shoes and imagine how you would feel if the tables were turned.
You both must also respect one another's right to live your own lives and not to give each other a hard time about being social, or else it's a breeding ground for resentment.
Patti Novak owns Buffalo Niagara Introductions (www.buffaloniagaraintro.com). E-mail questions to email@example.com and include your initials and hometown.