By BETH DEVINE
Couples usually feel pressured to break off with their partner before entering freshman year of college. The transition between high school and college is tough. Although every relationship is different, couples should reflect on the future and strength of their relationship before making the rash decision to breakup. Long-distance relationships have a negative stigma surrounding them, but speaking from experience, I believe that long-distance relationships have their unique advantages.
I am currently in a long-distance relationship, and I’ve come to realize that dating someone who lives far away has its ups and downs. In the beginning of our relationship, my boyfriend and I took a lot of time to decide whether or not a long distance relationship in college was possible for us. After months of getting to know each other just as friends, we established a strong foundation that gave us the stability we needed to commit ourselves to each other, regardless of the fact that we live thousands of miles apart. We ignored outside pressure and negativity, and our relationship has flourished ever since.
Even though being apart is hard at times, I’ve come to believe that long distance relationships in college are worth the effort. If both partners are committed to being with each other, then the relationship has the potential to strengthen and grow into something very special.
Since my boyfriend and I go to schools on opposite sides of the country, we have had to learn how to develop effective communication skills. Our distance forces us to share our thoughts and feelings, causing us to have real, heart-to-heart conversations. These meaningful conversations allow us to share a strong bond that is built on trust, love, and friendship.
We find ways to maintain a fun and interesting relationship. For example, we write long letters, watch synced-up movies on Skype, send each other care packages for finals week, and read and discuss about books for our two-person book club (we call this the “Coast-to-Coast Book Club”).
Because I hardly see my boyfriend, I greatly value spending time with him in person. Every time one of us visits each other, we cherish every moment, even the mundane ones, like going to the grocery store together. I get the fun opportunity of playing tour guide when he visits by showing him all the sites to see in Washington D.C. and Virginia. Every visit is like a mini-vacation for the both of us. These visits have taught me to appreciate my significant other’s time and effort to see me
Other UMW students feel the same way about their long-distance relationships. Sophomore Frankie Edwards believes that even though distance is difficult, it is worth the effort to be with his girlfriend, since he is optimistic about the relationship’s future outcomes.
“Overtime, communication has gotten way easier, and the prospect of the future is getting closer,” said Edwards, “I feel closer to her, because it’s really special when I’m finally able to see her in person.”
Freshman Gabby Gallier also believes that distance has strengthen her relationship with her significant other. Plans to see her boyfriend give her extra motivation to work hard in school.
“I always get happy whenever I he visits me at school,” said Gallier. “Plans with him always help me get through the week. I really value the time we spend together.”
Long-distance forces you to be independent, and not to lose yourself in a relationship. You have your own social life, education path, and future career goals. Since I can’t spend time hanging out with my boyfriend, I have more time to focus on school and friendships. Although this forced independence sometimes hurts long-distance couples, it is important to be committed to someone you can trust. Time to focus on personal growth is necessary for success in college.
Independence was a very important aspect of UMW alumna Jill Stapleton’s long-distance relationship. While she was at UMW, she dated her current husband who went to school in upstate New York.
When asked what she learned from her long-distance experience, she stated, “I learned that the primary reason we go to college is to study and prepare ourselves for future careers. I had two internships while at UMW, and if I had been dating a local boyfriend, I might not have done as good a job at those internships, because I would have been wanting to spend time with him.”
Stapleton is very happy she risked having a long-term distance relationship, considering it was much harder back then due to limited technology.
“In our case, long-distance worked out very well. We’ve been married 32 years. Even if it doesn’t work out, it might be what keeps you out of trouble while you are studying for your future career,” said Stapleton, “A lot of students spend more time on social life than studies while in college.”
Determination, cooperation, love, and commitment are necessary elements of success for a long-distance relationship. Although it is not for everyone, long-distance relationships are certainly possible and worth the effort. Couples entering college should deeply consider committing themselves to a long-distance relationship, since it grants independence, yet helps couples create a stronger bond.