I never imagined myself in a long distance relationship.
I’ve been in two LDRs: one that fell apart and one that stands strong to this day.
Distance is something that shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to someone that you love and care for. Even with distance involved, it takes effort, patience, understanding and more to keep the flame alive; love can never be the only thread holding a relationship together.
I left community college a year before my partner at the time, and chose to attend SF State last August because not only was it an ideal school to continue my education, but it was only 40 miles away from him.
My once-10-minute drive to spend time with him now became an hour and some odd minutes, traffic permitting, and it turned into my first “long distance” relationship.
At first, I didn’t consider the distance a factor at all. I made the effort to go home every other weekend; all of my free time was dedicated to trying to call and video chat between our classes, work, practices and social lives.
But the dedication didn’t last as long as I had hoped.
Conversations turned into “I miss you,” “I love you” or “I’ll talk to you later,” feeling as if no effort was being put in. I thought to myself: could this distance really be affecting us?
Fast forward to March: few days after our two-year anniversary, we called it quits. I was completely devastated.
Every relationship comes with problems and I believe the biggest one of mine was paranoia. I had met new people, new friends and for the first time in our relationship he didn’t know anyone that I was surrounding myself with on a daily basis.
He had a problem with another guy that I had gotten close to and saw the friendship as a threat. That problem snowballed and caused the demise of not only my relationship, but that friendship, too.
I spent a few days curled up in my bed crying, refusing to eat and barely mustering up enough courage to take myself to classes. It was difficult to go from talking to the same person for over two years to having no form of communication between us.
Forty miles was all it took to break a two-year committed relationship.
As time passed, I began to self-heal faster than I expected myself to. I felt physically and mentally healthier. I was even able to listen to those sad love songs without feeling my heart being pulled apart.
I reconnected with the friendship I had lost at the time and I truly felt like myself again.
My track record of long distance relationships didn’t end there and, in fact, the distance got even further. That very friendship turned into a relationship between California and Alabama in the beginning of April.
We only had a few months until school ended and he had to move back to Alabama for the summer, and, truthfully, I was afraid. I thought that if a distance as much as 40 miles can break a relationship, what will happen in a relationship of over 2000 miles?
The first few weeks turned into a month and a half before separation began to kick in. In the beginning of July, I spent $400 for a round trip ticket to spend five days on the other side of the country to be with my partner.
Over six months later, the California-Alabama relationship continued happy and healthy. How did a 40 mile distance relationship break, but a 2000 mile relationship continue?
Love isn’t, and can’t be, the only factor in a relationship. There is effort needed to maintain a healthy relationship from communication, trust and compromise.
According to a study by the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, almost one in every seven college students are in a long distance relationship, and these couples report having the same amount of intimacy, trust and commitment as couples who are not in an LDR.
“We try to talk on an everyday basis and trust is important,” said SF State sophomore Jack Harris, whose girlfriend lives in Santa Cruz. “I think it makes a relationship stronger if you are able to stay committed in a relationship where you can’t see your significant other as often as you were once able to.”
SF State senior Alexander Thomas is in the same boat, with a girlfriend who lives in Modesto, a city exactly 100 miles away. He says that sometimes communication is skewed if not in person, but finds it has opened up a new straight-forward way of communication for the two.
“Over the phone it is hard to tell when the other person needs something that they can’t quite convey,” Thomas said. “We have to trust each other to communicate when one of us needs something. We have to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often than not and let perceived slights go.”
“Being gay sometimes makes finding someone harder, so long distance is pretty common,” said UC Davis senior Remal Halabi, who has been in two LDRs since entering college. “Not all LDR[s] work out, mine didn’t, but I definitely don’t think people should deter away from it. It gives you a whole new experience, and I wouldn’t have changed it because while, yes, I wanted someone there with me physically, I had someone there for me emotionally. That’s all you could ask for in a relationship, long distance or not.”
Coming to terms with how a relationship changes once distance becomes a factor can sneak up on someone faster than they think, but distance can always be worked through.
“After a while, the distance doesn’t have much more of an impact outside of missing the other person,” Thomas said.