Ask a fifth-year: Winter Break Blues

Dear Sarah,

I’m a bit worried about going into this winter break. My significant other and I started dating earlier this term. So far, it’s a very successful relationship, but we’ve only been together a few months. We’re used to seeing each other around campus every day—we live in the same dorm and have a class together. The problem is they live in New York City and I’m from Seattle, so it’s not like we’ll be able to see each other a lot over break. I’ve never done a long distance relationship before, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions on how to make this work.

— Soon to be Sleepless in Seattle


Dear Soon to be Sleepless,

The transition between on-campus Lawrence relationships and winter break relationships is a significant one and it can be hard to navigate. However, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways to stay emotionally close despite being physically distant. Essentially, the whole thing boils down to one word—communication.

Before the two of you go your separate ways in November, it is vital you discuss how you plan to communicate for the following six weeks. Are you both OK with texting each other throughout the day or would you prefer to set a specific time to call each other on the phone? What about Skype-ing?

I’ve always been a big fan of the old Netflix date. The two of you decide on a movie or a TV show to watch and then coordinate starting it via Skype so it’s like you’re watching it together. Pro tip—the only way this works, though, is if one of you mutes the Netflix window. It’s easy to get the videos synced up close enough that you and your partner laugh at the same jokes at the same time, but it’s completely impossible to sync the videos up close enough that your audio will perfectly align with theirs.

You can also find other ways to stay in contact besides just technological ones. When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter to someone? I mean a real “these are all the things going on in my life, how are you?” letter, not just a “thank you for the birthday present” note to your grandma.

Letters are so much more personal than a text message or a phone call. Sure you don’t get the instant gratification of seeing the person or hearing their voice, but reading something in their own hand brings its own pleasure. Maybe with all that free time you’ll have over break, you can spend some time researching what it means when someone writes all of their A’s like capital A’s.

Generally, what I’ve found with long distance relationships is that you can’t dwell on the distance, especially in a situation like this where you will only be separated for a short period of time. I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but six weeks really isn’t that much time. Take this as a positive opportunity to learn something new about each other rather than a negative situation that’s different than what you’re used to.

Send in your questions to and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at LU.