The Distance Between: An Inside Look at Long Distance Relationships

It's relationship week here at HCDU, and as the final quarter of the year winds down, a lot of us have graduation and study abroad to look forward to just around the corner! This usually brings up a pretty interesting topic of conversation if you're in a romantic relationship: long distance. For those of you considering committing to a LDR, I decided to ask one of our Campus Corespondents, April, about her experience being in a LDR for about two years. lt is important to note, however, that the following is specific to April's relationship and experiences, and should be taken as such. The best way to decide for yourself is, of course, to communicate fully with your partner. If you're a little stumped here's a nudge in the right direction.

Candid of April photographed by Alaix Parra

Personal Information

April is a second-year undergraduate with a declared major in Psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience and minors in Spanish, Biology, and Religious Studies. 

Did you ever think you'd be in a LDR?

I never truly thought about it. Although, virtual interactions tend to be easier for me to open up to someone without too much fear of rejection. 

What do you find rewarding about your relationship?

First off, long distance is not for everyone. It's very hard and challenging. Sometimes there are intense moments of doubt, but that moment when you come together (if this person is right for you and loves you in a healthy way, and you love them) is magical; fantastic. It's like the honeymoon stage over and over again. Usually you are seeing each other during the holidays or some vacation time, so the time spent together is high quality, if you use your time correctly. 

Another thing, at least for me, is the distance. It may seem weird, but hear me out. Maybe it's because I'm a more independent person, but I really enjoy my alone time, my own space. Long distance does take that to the extreme; nonetheless, during this time I'm able to grow without worrying about dates or scheduling my partner around all my other commitments (and there are a ton in undergrad). I'm able to focus on myself and connect with him when needed. 

What do you find difficult?

For me, the most difficult, as well as rewarding, is the distance. Even though you get this time to grow without guilt for not making plans or pushing back spending time together, when you are not active with your other commitments, you begin to remember the physicality of the relationship. You miss their smell, their touch, even their annoying habits (like sniffling). This is when you should really take time to determine if this person IS worth the wait for you. Are your moments together magical? Do you long for them? When they leave does your heart break? Sometimes, the relationship isn't the right one. Maybe it's the person, or maybe it's the distance. Either way, it's during this difficult time of sorrow that you'll be able to inwardly reflect and see if this relationship is right for you. 

Do you have any general tips for making a LDR work? 

COMMUNICATION. I cannot emphasize this enough. I think the best think is to communicate about everything– all of your doubts, fears, what you love, and what you don't. It's very hard, and you do need to have an established foundation of trust. For my partner and I, we became closer friends online through an academic program (QuestBridge) that we bonded through due to similar interests and identities. So, we both shared secrets, well mostly me since my life is more crazy, and we've grown to trust each other deeply over the few years we've known each other. 

Most of our rough patches came from miscommunication or no communication at all. Even if you are scared to tell them your thoughts, tell them you are worried and why. Leave no room for assumptions, and don't assume things yourself. Always ask questions and give the benefit of the doubt (within reason). 

Any suggestions for those debating an LDR while they go abroad? 

I would suggest some major self-reflection. Is your partner comfortable with being open if you want to explore dating and relationships in another country? Do you really want to explore this new realm in another country? Try to figure out what you want out of study abroad and if this would affect your relationship in any way. For example, would your actions be taken as cheating to your partner, or are they going to have extreme trust issues and doubts while your abroad?

I suggest really sitting down with your partner and talking about boundaries and the needs from both parties while you, or they, are abroad. 

Ideas for initiating a conversation with your SO about long distance, or staying committed past graduation?

Well, I'm a pretty blunt person, so for me, I would say DU it. Flat out lay the topic out for discussion. Again, this is my relationship dynamic, and it can/does work. However, if you and your partner have a different dynamic examine it. How did they react when you dropped other important news? Have you dropped hints before, and if so, how did they react then? Look back at previous interactions similar to what you will do and try to find the best way to bring up this important and serious topic.