Holding hands, kissing and going out on dates are all typical ways to showing affection when in a relationship, but these kinds of intimate interactions can be difficult when your partner is not physically nearby.
SF State Professor Ivy Chen devotes an entire lecture of her Sex and Relationships class to long distance relationships.
“They’re hard,” Chen said. “They’re really tough to do especially when the distance is far.”
Long distance relationships can be difficult but the struggle doesn’t discourage many young couples from giving it a try.
According to Chen, college students are more likely to try long distance relationships because they are in a transitional phase, whether they just graduated from high school or transferred from a community college.
“It’s not a uniquely college thing, but college students is one of the populations that tend to have the option of turning their relationship into long distance or breaking up,” Chen said.
Many SF State students are not strangers to long distance relationships.
Kelly Rappleye, 19-year-old humanities sophomore, celebrated her two year anniversary with boyfriend Leo Abraham last Monday. Only problem: They celebrated it from a distance of almost 400 miles.
Rappleye is from Los Angeles, where her boyfriend currently lives. They had been dating for eight months before she decided to move to San Francisco to go to college. At that point they weren’t sure how a long distance relationship would work, but they wanted to give it a shot.
“It was really, really hard to leave, definitely, and for the first semester I just wanted to go back the whole time and kept thinking of transferring and everything,” Rappleye said.
The first year she was away was rough on the couple. Rappleye was homesick and Abraham was frustrated that he couldn’t be there for her.
“We went through a lot of fighting, but it seems like we’ve learned a lot from it and this year we are infinitely better,” Rappleye said.
Rappleye is not alone.
Jamila Gonzales is an 18-year-old freshman whose current boyfriend of eight months lives in San Diego.
Gonzales said her previous boyfriend in high school was also a long distance relationship, but he ending up leaving her for another girl.
“It sucks because it could easily happen to either one of us, falling for another person, but I don’t know, it’s just worth it for me to at least go through it because I do really like him,” Gonzales said.
Loneliness, insecurities and jealousy are all issues that both girls recognize as problems that every long distance couple must deal with.
“Many people have regular partners for the companionship,” Chen said. “But being in a long distance relationship means that you still have to do the commitment but you’re not getting the sex, not getting the companionship, and there’s a lot of work.”
Being so far away from your partner can lead to problems, but some say it can also strengthen your bond.
“When we’re together, we spend all our time together, so I think it’s really good for me to be independent and have my own friends and have my own life and be focused,” Rappleye said. “I think it’s really good for him too, especially since we’re young, still want to be fun and social. We can still do whatever we want but we just have each other still.”