Opinion: Going the Distance May Be Worth It

When I accepted my offer of admission at Carleton, I hardly realized I was also accepting my fate- to be subject to a number of preconceived notions about having a relationship, especially a long-distance one, in university. Obviously there are far worse fates and this is a dramatic statement in itself, but I think it’s worth addressing or rather dismissing the belief that you have to be single in university in order to maximize your experience.

Going into your first year of university with your high school partner is supposedly taboo, as many of my peers were quick to inform me. Whenever I mentioned that I was in a relationship, especially with someone who wasn’t in Ottawa, I was immediately met with questions such as “why didn’t you guys break up before you went away?” or the more common “why would you waste all of university being in a relationship?” Initially I was surprised that this was the average thought process, but now I simply attribute it to hook-up culture and laugh a little.

The first year of university is your first experience living on your own and having the freedom to do many things. For one, having access to an infinitely larger dating (or in most cases hook-up) pool. There is this notion that, with this increase in potential, sticking with your high-school sweetheart automatically means you are limiting yourself, depriving yourself of the opportunity to experience other people. But with this thought also comes this culture of impermanence- everything becomes temporary. If your only way of experiencing other people is in brief noncommittal stints, do you really feel like you are maximizing your opportunity to make connections in university? For me, building lasting connections is a lot more important and being in a relationship hardly prevents me from doing that. I’ve been able to make and maintain some great friendships at Carleton so far while having a boyfriend. If anything, it has been great to have constant support and encouragement while I’m doing my thing here. 

The way I see it, I would way rather stay with someone I’m crazy about and not get to see them sometimes, than break up with them for the sake of seeing a parade of people I care way less about more frequently. Maybe I partake in the culture of impermanence I mentioned, but in a different way. I see university as temporary rather than relationships. Don’t get me wrong, I have been and still am invested in it while I’m here. But I also recognize that one day long-distance won’t be long-distance, and I’m not willing to give up what I have in the meantime. 

Long-distance can be really hard at times and I’m not suggesting that you just stay with whoever you’re with when going away to school, but for me and my partner this made the most sense. We had been dating for a couple of years (and still are) and had no desire to break up- we were happy together and that was that. So before you ditch your partner with hopes of “experiencing university to the fullest,” I will leave you with a statement that is both corny and maybe a little cliche:

There may be plenty of fish in the university sea, but you may have *cue Friends reference* already found your lobster at home.