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Ask Athena: How Can I Cope With My Long-Distance Relationship?

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Dear Athena,

I'm in college, and my boyfriend and I are apart for the summer. I thought it would be OK to have a long-distance relationship, but I am having so much trouble. I have driven to visit him three times (his house is seven hours from mine), but I don't understand why he hasn't visited me yet. I feel miserable without him, and I can't wait to start school again so we can be back together. What should I do to not be so sad and miss him? Is this normal?

Signed,

Crazy-in-Love College Girl

Dear College Girl,

You know that old expression, "If you love someone, set them free"? In this case, the notion applies not only to your far-away beau but to you, too, my dear. You need to give yourself, and him, the space and time to evolve and have fun without each other. Healthy relationships are not of the codependent variety. It's one thing to miss your sweetie, but it's a shame to be miserable and wish the summer away because of it.

Maybe he hasn't come to visit you because you haven't given him a chance to? You've made the 14-hour journey three times already — and it's still June. Relationships are a two-way street. If anyone visits next time, it must be him.

Not only will it save you some serious gas money, but developing your sense of self and independence will improve your life and relationships. Take this temporary distance from your boyfriend as an opportunity to spend time with friends and family — or yourself. What do you like to do that's just for you? What activities can you plan with buddies that you haven't enjoyed in a long time? Are there hobbies or interests you haven't explored because you've been busy with school?

Bottom line: Make this summer about you. All the experiences you cultivate during this time will be invigorating and vital, and you can return to school energized and present. You're young, and it's the best time of the year. Don't spend it fretting over your next visit or longing for your love. Turn that energy to your own journey.

Relationships mean sharing your life, but you also need to live yours — on your own terms — or you won't have much to share.

Yours,

Athena