If you are reading this, it’s likely because you’re at a crossroad. Don’t worry, though, you aren’t alone. Many young professionals are in the process of applying 0r interviewing for job or internship opportunities this summer. Some are trying to decide which college or graduate school they want to attend. Others are struggling to choose whether or not to study abroad for a semester. All of these scenarios involve a change that can further one’s professional career; however, decisions like the ones mentioned above can put a strain on a relationship. Here are four tips from someone who has been in your shoes if you are considering moving away from your significant other to pursue an opportunity.

To give some context, my boyfriend and I started dating in December of 2016. He is a member of the U.S. Navy and is currently stationed a few miles from my college in Upstate New York. He works on a rotating schedule, meaning sometimes he works days, sometimes he works nights, and sometimes he works a hybrid of the two. Military relationships are no walk in the park, but I still managed to study abroad for four months in Germany, participate in a four-month internship program in D.C., and am currently on the hunt for another internship in D.C. for this summer. By the time I start my senior year of college this September, I will have spent over half of my relationship away from my significant other. Here is how we made it work:

  1. Communicate clearly and often. Communication is crucial whether you’re 15 minutes from your significant other or 1500 miles. My boyfriend and I try to FaceTime every night before we go to bed. Some couples set “phone dates” once per week to catch up and talk to each other. It might seem old-fashioned, but sending a letter via snail mail adds a personal touch and really makes the other person feel special. Never underestimate the power of seeing your significant other, hearing their voice, or reading something in their handwriting. It’s the little things that keep the relationship strong.

  2. Be a little selfish. While relationships are important, so is preparing for your professional career. This means being unapologetic about going to your top college, choosing to study abroad, or accepting an impressive internship. It is neither mean nor nice; you are simply making the decision to prioritize yourself. The professional world will not wait for you, but your partner will understand and should encourage you to grow. After all, couples who see a future together will need both individuals to have successful careers and financial stability. This may mean spending time apart now to have a happier future.

  3. Make time for each other. Finding a work-life balance is different for every couple and it takes a bit of time to figure out. Designating an hour, a day, or even a weekend to your partner will make them feel important and in-the-loop. While abroad, I would FaceTime my boyfriend at weird hours of the day or night due to the six-hour time difference. While in D.C., I flew home one weekend per month and my boyfriend drove to D.C. one weekend per month. Whether it’s in-person or not, making time for each other shows that you can be committed to both your relationship and your career.

  4. Be patient and supportive. Understand that your significant other is just as busy as you are. They are living their own life and will have exciting or upsetting experiences. Take time to reassure your partner that they can lean on you when they need it, just like you will need to lean on them. Sometimes being patient requires staying home to talk to your partner if they express that they are miss you more than usual. Other times, being supportive might require you to cut a phone call short if your partner is busy or wants to go out with their friends. Being in a relationship requires a lot of giving-and-taking, so be prepared to be both a giver and a taker.

You should never have to choose between your relationship and your career. Both are equally important and deserve equal attention. The only difference is that your career needs you to be physically present every day of the year. Your relationship, on the other hand, can be successful whether it’s short-distance or long-distance. All relationships require some sacrifice, so no one should turn down an opportunity simply because they are in a relationship. Time spent away from your significant other will go by quickly and smoothly if you both commit to communicating clearly, making time for each other, being patient and supportive, and being a little bit selfish when opportunities come calling.

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