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I never planned on dating in high school. I have always been relatively quiet, preferring to stick to the outskirts of conversations rather than be the center of attention. When I fell hard for the popular, extroverted, life-of-the-party kid in my classes, I didn’t imagine it would go anywhere. I thought I’d be stuck with the irritating “butterflies in the stomach” feeling whenever I saw him for the rest of high school, then we’d graduate, go our separate ways, and that would be that. I didn’t expect that by the second semester of senior year, I’d be in a happy and healthy relationship with him. I definitely didn’t expect to be so happy that I was willing to give long distance a shot.

Woman in Loungewear
Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst/Shopify

I remember when he proposed the idea to make our college decisions separately and wait to tell each other until after we had committed. This was fine by me—I hadn’t planned on doing it any other way. I already knew he wanted to go out-of-state, and I knew his top-choice schools weren’t the same as mine. I was right—he decided to go out-of-state, and I decided to stay. The initial decision to do long-distance was easy for me; I was happy in my relationship, and I had been fully expecting it. As it turned out, though, just because I was expecting long-distance didn’t mean I was at all prepared for it.

Last semester was easily the most miserable time of my entire life. As an incoming freshman, I was in a brand-new place, extremely overwhelemed and very, very lonely. On top of that, what had once been one of the brightest and most reliable parts of my life—my relationship—had become something stressful and inconsistent. My boyfriend and I’s relationship was always easy in-person; we were strong communicators and made quality time for one another. We believed we had a strong foundation for a long-distance relationship. That foundation crumbled once there were 1,300 miles between us. 

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While I struggled with the solitude I was experiencing at school, my boyfriend thrived. His school was considerably more relaxed when it came to the COVID guidelines, and it was easy for him to socialize. It seemed every day there were new people in his life while my world continued to shrink. While I was happy for him, at the same time I was incredibly jealous. My response was to latch tightly onto the relationship, and simultaneously, my boyfriend pulled away. Our communication skills, which had once been so strong, became almost nonexistent. 

It was a turbulent semester for our relationship, to say the very least. Many hours were spent crying on FaceTime followed by sleepless nights, my thoughts racing and stomach churning. Nearly every single fear I’d had about long-distance was realized. In short, it was awful. 

Person listening to music on laptop
Photo by Steinar Engeland from Stocksnap

Ultimately, it took days of talking and time spent with each other in person to get the relationship back on track. I am still in my long-distance relationship, and it is significantly better this semester; however, if I could go back and change my decision to start doing long-distance in the first place, I think I would. I believe some couples can make it work. I even believe that my relationship can survive the distance. I also know now that long-distance takes a lot of work. It’s difficult to not have your person right there with you, and it’s difficult to feel separate from their life. I sometimes believe that I might have been happier ending my relationship before college and not ever having to deal with the challenges that came with it; however, I also believe that the good I feel when my relationship is in-person outweighs the hurt of the distance, so at the end of the day, it is worth it.

Cara Dulin

CU Boulder '24

Cara is a freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and baking sweets of any kind.
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