long distance

Long distance relationships are often synonymous with nasty break ups, frequent jealousy and horrible heartbreak. It can’t be all that bad though, right?  For some, long distance relationships end up like the stigma says: with two people left disappointed and hurt. However, others still continue to try to stick it out, which seems somewhat counterintuitive. As someone in a long distance relationship, I ask myself sometimes: “Is it worth it?”

Before I convince you not to attempt having a long distance relationship, I should say that long distance gets a bad reputation. In my opinion, a long distance relationship can be rewarding due to its complexity. In the process, you learn not only more about the other individual in the relationship, but yourself as well.

If you’ve found yourself in the predicament of considering a long distance relationship if the dynamic changes, then you must make sure you and the person you’re dating know what you’re getting yourselves into. If before leaving all you say is, “We’ll Skype every moment we have!”, chances are (drum roll please…) it’s probably not going to work out. The issue is, the two people involved need to have a certain set of expectations.  

This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give: Let’s say Person A expects chocolates delivered every week, and Person B wants to talk maybe every other week for only two minutes.  You don’t have to be an expert to realize that this relationship probably won’t work. Hyperbole aside, it’s important to discuss expectations throughout the year, including making plans to visit each other or setting times in which you’re able to talk.  

It doesn’t hurt to discuss where things might go in the future as well, not that you necessarily have to have the names picked out for your two fraternal twins Jack and Jill or whether you’ll go to your mother-in-law’s for the holidays. Make expectations based off of economic realism and physical location. If money is an issue, then it is more likely than not that in-person visits may be scarce. Can you live without your love scratching your back for six months?

Once you’ve established grounds for what to expect throughout the time apart, you’re probably packing up and heading out. Goodbyes are always difficult, but don’t let them get you down. Try and make the time apart fulfilling and worthwhile to the best of your abilities.

First and foremost, more isn’t always better. You shouldn’t dedicate all your time on Skype.  Devoting too much time to your love may prevent participation in the community at Emory, lack of completion of assigned work or the ability to maintain your health. A relationship is not worth failing out of college or gaining the Freshmen 15.  

Positive communication is necessary. Come up with different ways of enriching your experience apart, either through letters or other personal mementos. For instance, you can both start writing in a journal. Then, each time you see one another, you switch journals. The sharing of information is intimate and alleviates the pain of being apart while also promoting reflection and healthy coping methods. Doing so also greatly improves the time you spend together, and makes it worthwhile if you have the opportunity to see each other.

Though you may question it occasionally, like myself, if it’s meant to be, you realize only a moment later that, of course it is worth it.