You’ve finally settled into your dorm, the dining hall has become significantly less intimidating, but suddenly, your college relationship is facing the dreaded “one month” hurdle. For long-distance couples, the first four weeks apart tend to be the “make it or break it” period. For hook-ups, that first month is the expiration date for the “casual” label. And for crushes, 28 days is just long enough for all that sexual tension to boil over. So whether you’ve been dumped by your long-distance beau or want to take your flirting to the next level, we’ve compiled a list of potential scenarios and talked to collegiettes and experts to help you through it!
Problem #1: Your long-distance relationship is having issues.
You promised one another that your love was stronger than the cost of a cross-country plane ticket. You agreed on daily Skype sessions and hourly texts and weekly phone calls. But four weeks is a long time and in the grand scheme of things, you’re barely out of the starting gate. You’re beginning to second guess your decision to remain in a long distance relationship. But how do you bring that up with your significant other?
“You have to approach the topic carefully,” says Frances from University of Rochester, who's been in a long distance relationship going on four years. “For me, we both wanted to stay together but we had very different ideas about what college and freshman year are all about. To be completely honest, I think entering freshman year in a long distance relationship is a mistake unless you truly believe you can grow on your own and branch out at school without feeling held back by your partner.”
If you feel the guidelines that you set before leaving for college aren’t working, you need to be honest with him. If you’re most comfortable writing out your thoughts, send your significant other an email laying out the issues you feel have arisen; conversely, if you work best face to face, set aside a Skype time when you’ll both be able to be alone in your respective dorms and talk openly.
Kelsey from West Virginia University has been dating her boyfriend since senior year of high school (despite the fact that he attends college in Florida), and she’s got a litany of long-distance tips. “A weekly time that you reserve for each other is really nice!” she says. Other suggestions include a “Netflix date” (sharing a Netflix account and watching a movie at the same time), and surprise care packages.
But Kelsey warns, “Also, you have to stay honest with each other while you're apart. Feelings can change, and they need to know if that happens. Long distance relationships are all about trust and if you don't have that it's not going to last very long.”
And if you do ultimately decide that you want to end things, wait until you’re able to meet face to face.“No one wants the rep of being that girl who dumped her guy via text, even though of course it's way more convenient - especially if you're out of town,” says Jen Kirsch, Relationship Expert on Cosmo TV's Love Trap. “Talk to him in person and be direct. Let him know that this is what will be best for you.”
While it may not feel like it at first, the forced distance between you and your ex is a blessing. You will never have to worry about running into him on the way to class, and you will never see him having a dance floor make-out sesh. But as we all know, physical proximity is just one piece of the relationship puzzle. Sever all your social media ties (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), because there’s nothing more heart-wrenching than getting a notification that your ex is “now in a [new] relationship.”
Once you begin the healing process, the social scene at school may seem a bit daunting. “To move on mentally and socially, take part in activities on campus,” Kirsch suggests. “Go to networking events, join a club of like-minded people. Perhaps take up yoga or get a gym membership. These things will empower you and make you feel better about your present state.”
Problem #2: You and your hook-up buddy still need to define the relationship.
Maybe you met a party, in class, or at the inaugural meeting of the poetry club, but something clicked, and suddenly you’ve been smooching the same guy for four weeks. As amazing as it’s been, you realize that you’re looking for something more serious. Having the “what are we?” conversation can inspire fear even in the bravest of souls, but it’s a necessary talk.
“Unfortunately, I think hook-up culture results in people spending a lot of time pretending they’re the person in the relationship who cares less, which leads to people being dishonest with one another,” says Beth from Kenyon College. “At the end of the day, it’s important to be completely straightforward and forthcoming. Pretending that you don’t want something more serious will only lead to hurt feelings, and the truth will come out eventually anyway.”
Try asking him to meet you in a public place - if your current relationship is purely sexual and you’re looking for something more, meeting in a dorm room is probably not the best idea. Lay out how you feel.
If he’s unwilling to make a commitment, be honest with yourself. Can you stand to be in a relationship that, in all probability, doesn’t have much of a future? If the answer is no, then you need to make clean break. “We teach people how to treat us by what we're willing to put up with,” Kirsch says. “Don't accept something or settle in hopes that he'll change. If you express that you've developed feelings and he doesn't feel the same way, walk away with your pride held in tact and find someone who thinks you're worthy enough that they don't want to lose you.”
The rules are the same if you’re the one unwilling to up the serious level: be upfront about your desire to remain casual. “If you’re not looking for a serious commitment, it’s equally as important to be honest with them,” Beth says. “People often think what they want to think about what a relationship is, and it’s incumbent on you to be explicit about what you want.” Sometimes, it’s painful to end a relationship with someone you care about, but it’s not fair to either party if there’s a discrepancy in dedication. Know that what you’re doing is, in the long run, the best decision for both parties. He’ll be able to find someone who’s willing to commit, and you’ll be able to keep on keepin’ on.
Problem #3: Your crush has yet to make a move.
For the past month, you’ve been sitting next to each other in that Econ class, eyeing one another from across the dining hall, and casually working into conversations your total and complete single status. The level of sexual tension is almost unbearable. But before you start smooching, ask yourself seriously how you’ll feel the morning after. Or the Monday after, in class.
That being said, there’s nothing hotter than unrequited love becoming requited. If you’re interested in getting to know him better, “start incorporating your crush into your daily life,” suggests Kirsch. “Does he have Snapchat? iMessage? Facebook Chat? Keep him in the loop about what you're up to, how your day was, what a pain you think your teacher is, etc., by using these methods to help build a foundation for a friendship. The benefit of this is that once you exchange messages, you can get a sense of who he really is, not just your superficial impression of him. This will help you decide if he's even worth pursuing in the first place.”
As happens to the best of us, sometimes crushes do not translate well to an actual hook-up, and you have the rest of a semester to spend together in a class. Take a deep breath. Do not panic. Acting immaturely will just prolong the awkwardness. Freshman year, I completely ignored a failed hook-up for the rest of the class, even though he repeatedly sat next to me. Four years later, he still remembers my cold shoulder and it completely ruined our friendship. That said, don’t feel pressured to have extended conversations or force yourself to become besties. The best you can do is keep your head up, smile, and try to move on. Everyone has embarrassing moments in their love life timeline, and there is no level of humiliation that isn’t helped by a basic level of politeness and time.