Warning: tough love ahead.
Long-distance relationships in college rarely work out. I know this because sophomore year I delved into a long-distance relationship myself, and as you can infer, it lead to heartbreak. Although there were flaws in the relationship, the 1,000 miles between us triggered the core of our issues. For those freshmen out there that came to college with a relationship from back home, I want to shed light onto the various repercussions attached to long-distance relationships in the hope that it will help some of you.
I was always told not to have a long-distance relationship in college, but it’s not always easy to turn off feelings and abruptly end something meaningful. Trust me I know. When we cultivate relationships from high school we want to hold onto them for three reasons: 1) it’s comfortable, 2) we want to test the relationship and 3) we hope that it turns out different than others. These three reasons are completely valid — and I can attest — but in my opinion, college is not a practical environment to pursue a relationship from afar.
For many people, college marks the start of an exploratory period in ones life. So when you hold onto someone from home, you are limiting yourself from experiencing some of the amazing opportunities that college offers. These limitations are sometimes subconscious, which is definitely more challenging to cope with, and ultimately harm your time here at school as well as your overall mental health. You tend to avoid fun activities and prevent yourself from getting “out there”. I would always find myself saying, “I don’t need to go out because it’s not like I can get with anyone”. As a senior, I now understand that there are so many issues with that statement. Firstly, going out in college isn’t just about hooking up. Instead, it should be about going out for yourself and making new memories aside from your relationship and S.O. Now three years later, I look back and realize that my accumulation of “no’s” turned into the loss of potential memories.
College is the time to not only make hilarious memories, but also to have weird hook ups at The Boot, and take advantage of the quickly vanishing time that you have here in the best city in the WORLD. It’s not fair to yourself to push away potential relationships and experiences because of someone you can’t even be with in person. You owe it to yourself and your S.O. to enjoy the college years, find yourselves, and grow individually. We change immensely over the course of four years; it’s irrational to think that the two people you were in high school will still be compatible during, or even after, college. If by the end of college you both want to rekindle the relationship, go for it!
A long-distance relationship can also turn into a full-time job; you already have to balance school work, clubs, a job, and a social life. The need to be talking consistently, trying to set FaceTime calls, updating each other on your lives, etc. becomes incredibly overwhelming and tiring. As a result, you become less present due to the consuming thoughts of the one you are missing.
If you’re reading this and are in a long-distance relationship or considering it — I don’t mean to freak you out. But it is important to think big picture, and additionally, about your goals and aspirations in college. Will having a long-distance relationship help or hinder them?
I have two pieces of advice for those committing to a long-distance relationship. Firstly, communication is everything. It is so important to communicate to the other person when you need attention, advise, help, and even space. Always being open and honest with them when they have bothered you and so on. Secondly, stay busy. While in a long-distance relationship, I took only 12-credits and didn’t have a job. I had a lot of time on my hands, which I’ve learned only back-fired for me. As a result, I had time to think and miss my boyfriend more than usual. The increase in free-time also lead me to have unattainable expectations, leaving me disappointed and doubtful a majority of the time, while also causing my boyfriend to not feel good enough.
Most importantly, take each day as they come. Some days will be easier than others. Some days you will miss the person so much it hurts. With time, you and your S.O. will figure out a routine that suits both of your lifestyles in a healthy way. At the same time, if you are constantly feeling upset, jealous or frustrated, then it is time for you to start re-evaluating this relationship.
Even though my relationship ended, I cannot say I have any regrets with respect to it; I learned so many life lessons. From my experience, I learned a lot about myself, what I need in a partner, and experienced a love that I will cherish forever. In both cases, whether you let go of your relationship or commit to the distance, be patient, accepting, trusting, and always remember to ride the ~wave~.
Cover Photo: Dani Stein