COLUMN: Is long distance worth a shot?

Long distance relationships are far from easy and can be both emotionally and financially draining. On the other hand, there are some things worth fighting for.

Sofi Zeman is a first year journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about interpersonal growth and interactions.

Much like time, love is often fleeting. This is a social mentality that often consumes the entire conversation of having a college relationship. While it is extremely likely that many would disagree with this statement, it’s not exactly untrue for others. We’re in college, a place that is widely believed to be where commitment goes to die. Yet there are countless students across the nation that survive this standard each day.

It is important to acknowledge that a considerable amount of high school students break up before going into college. When distance is added into the equation things tend to complicate, resulting in breakups. Sometimes it is for the best but there have been countless occasions where a premature breakup ultimately leads to regret. These situations pose the burning question: are long distance relationships worth having while in college? Let’s find out.

There are countless reasons to avoid playing the long game. Distance often adds a hefty amount of strain on relationships that aren’t particularly sturdy to begin with. A combination of loneliness, lack of physical contact and the inability to properly communicate emotions can leave some pairings in even worse conditions than ever before.

“Distance makes the heart grow fonder … for someone else,” said MU Professor Steven Berkley in his Intimate Relationships and Marriage lecture.Though blunt, this is an extremely valid point. Whether it be to meet physical or purely intellectual needs, people in long distance relationships often lean on others in order to fill the absence of their partners. Unfortunately, this is known to lead to infidelity problems causing a break up.

Travel is another major reason to call it quits. How far away a person is from their significant other can have an incredible impact on both their feelings and wallet. Considering that many of us will be paying off our student debt for quite some time, it may not be the best idea to blow every paycheck on a flight to see a high school sweetheart.

Additionally, people change. This time apart gives two partners an opportunity to grow as completely different people. At this phase in life we experience and learn a lot about ourselves and what we want. At the end of it all, these personalities may clash and desires can become mutually exclusive. In this sense, it almost seems better to throw in the towel now in order to avoid reaching this point.

With this in mind, be sure to acknowledge the fact that every relationship is different. While there are multiple reasons to say no, there is a myriad of reasons to give it a try. Two separate couples in the same situation are not bound by fate to meet the same end.

Sure, distance can make the heart grow fonder toward someone else. On the other hand, who is to say that this must be in a romantic setting? Naturally, people live in search of companionship, but this can take shape in the form of a platonic friend. There is a major difference between having someone to talk to and crossing the line into romantic intimacy. Being in a committed relationship does not mean that someone has to close themselves off to all people. Contrary to popular belief, being far away from someone can make you care for them more. As cliché as it sounds, being apart for long periods of time has the potential to make the time spent together more valuable.

Yes, people grow apart. During this time in our lives we open ourselves to new perspectives and points of view that can change our entire belief system. Being in different areas can alter these beliefs as well. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having this time apart provides an opportunity to grow, both separately and together. Sharing two different lives not only brings additional perspective into a relationship but also adds another layer to it, one where partners are able to learn even more about each other’s newfound personalities.

Having this sense of independence between a person and their significant other can serve as a true test of dedication to one another. It builds the mentality of “I don’t need to be with you, but I really want to.” In this state, two partners continually choose to be with each other rather than depending entirely on being together constantly.

So, what’s the verdict? Again, not all relationships are the same. Some students are going to meet the person they’re meant to be with while they’re here in college, or even after. Others feel that they’ve already met their “one.” Some couples are on track for marriage already, while others haven’t even considered anything beyond a causal relationship.

Long distance relationships are not for everyone. They’re not easy, and they’re not exactly desirable. There are countless reasons to avoid the long game. But, for those not-so-hopeless romantics out there: if there is something special in that relationship, something that cannot be found anywhere else, then it is – without a doubt – entirely worth the shot.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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