study abroad

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What is the point of being in a committed relationship with someone who you rarely see or touch or maybe even talk to? I thought the whole point of having a significant other (S.O.) was to be able to go on dates with them, to hang out with them and — dare I say — to be intimate with them. Absolutely none of that is possible when you live hundreds of miles away from each other.

Long distance relationships have an entirely different dynamic than typical relationships. You behave more like best friends than lovers without even knowing it. You gossip about your friends and the random stories you hear around school. You talk constantly about anything and everything that happens in your day because otherwise they would never know. Your S.O. probably knows more about what you did today than your roommates who you see several times a day because telling them about it makes it seem like they were a part of it. Unfortunately, no matter how much you talk, something will always be missing because there is something very different about talking to someone via phone or text from seeing them in person and catching up face to face.

That brings us to another point: Your relationship will likely completely rely on technology for survival. All conversations and feelings of closeness are limited to text, phone calls and — if you’re lucky — FaceTime. I’ll be the first to admit that technology is incredible, and I do admit that it closes the distance to some degree, but even still it’s not enough. Technology makes long distance relationships both bearable and doable, but at what cost? Will you be the person who walks around all day will their head down and eyes glued to their phone? Will you ever truly be productive when you feel the constant need to reply to your S.O.’s most recent text? So when you really think about it, what are you getting out of your relationship if it’s conducted via blue screen? The answer is probably less than you would like to admit. The fact is your essentially virtual relationship is likely not going to satisfy you forever. Eventually you are going to want something tangible because honestly, holding hands with your phone kind of sucks when compared to holding hands with your real-life boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe try putting your phone down for a few days and seeing how you really feel when technology is not involved. I’ll bet you’ll become hyperaware of the distance and exactly how much time of your day you devote to relaying every possible bit of information to your significant other.

I know, I know, you think you and your S.O. will beat the odds and make it through college. You talk all the time. You are comfortable with the distance. You completely trust each other. You don’t care how much time you spend talking to them in a day because it’s totally worth it. So let’s say you do. Let’s say you make it through college, but then what? Are you going to move back to your hometown and resume your relationship where you left off after high school? No, you probably won’t do that because you will be ready to move forward with your life. After you graduate from college, I bet you plan to get a job or go to graduate school, both of which will likely result in you moving to new town or maybe even state. Is your S.O. going to be willing to follow you? If they are, will they be able to find a job wherever you end up?

Even if one of you is willing to follow the other, a lot of problems are still likely to arise. By that time, you will likely be two completely different people than when you originally left for college. That’s just how it works. College is a time for growth and learning. As cliché as it sounds, college is a time for finding yourself, finding who you want to be and how you want to live your adult life. We all come into college naively reaching for our dreams; when we leave we are (hopefully) educated and have a better and more realistic understanding of where we want our lives to go. Taking this into account, it becomes glaringly obvious that you and your S.O. will probably be heading in different — possibly opposite — directions when you finally graduate. So how can you expect to pick up right where you left off when you graduate? And if you are going to graduate school or taking a job halfway across the country, will your relationship ever really return to its original state of being “short distance”?

If you and your S.O. can pull it off, I applaud you. You might even be my heroes.

To everyone else, I wish you the best of luck.