Starting the Semester Off in a Long-Distance Relationship? This is What Emmanuel Students with Experience Want You to Know.

Long-distance, star-crossed love is no foreign concept to most college students. You fall for someone in high school only to pick different colleges. The guy that lived in the same freshman dorm as you is cute, but this semester he’s studying abroad halfway across the world. Someone you met over the summer changes your life, but your summer homes are hours away from your respective colleges. 

 

What are you supposed to do? Quit while you’re still ahead, stay tethered to your phone and reserve your weekends for your SO, listen to “Going Away to College” by Blink 182 on repeat? Unfortunately, no long-distance situation is the same and there’s no one-size-fits-all protocol for navigating them. The good news, though, is that many Emmanuel students have been in this situation, and through an anonymous survey created by our Vice President Elise Kline, 22 of them provided insight into their experiences and gave advice. Read on to learn about the ups and downs of going to school in an LDR!

 

About Who We Surveyed 

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To get the Emmanuel community’s anonymous opinions on long-distance relationships, we created a Google survey and posted it on our social media accounts (which you should definitely follow)! Out of the people who responded, the stats were: 

 

  • 100% seniors

  • 76.2% were female, 23.8% were male, 0% were non-binary

  • 95.2% had been in long-distance relationships, 4.8% had not

  • 42.9% were still in these relationships, 57.1% were not

  • 40% were 1-2 hours away from each other, 25% were 3-4 hours away from each other, 20% were 5+ hours away from each other and 15% were in different countries

 

Stories We Heard

 

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Long-distance relationships are born from a variety of circumstances, so our first open-ended question asked Emmanuel students to share the basics of their relationships. Here are stories five students shared: 

 

“We both go to different schools but at home we are only a short walk away from each others houses, it’s really cute actually. We both have long weekends so we set aside one weekend a month (since we are both busy getting that degree) where we trade off who’s school we go to visit. We regularly talk and FaceTime but understand we are both busy college students with lives and work to do. It’s honestly really great!” - Male, 3-4 hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“It was hard at times. We would have different class, work, activity, schedules. Some days we would say good morning and that’s it. It was really good at times because it made seeing each other in person so much better. Getting to hug your significant other after 3 months, there’s nothing like it.” - Female, 3-4 hour distance, not still in the relationship

 

“My significant other and I have been together for about 4 and a half years. We haven’t always worked through the long distance thing in a healthy way. We’ve been dating since high school and in many ways have grown up and matured together. College is an interesting, certainly challenging time to be in a long term/long distance relationship. We have broken up before, only for about three months during our sophomore years. It’s been quite a ride, but they are my absolute best friend. So, the car rides and train rides to hang out together have always been worth just seeing their face” - Male, 1-2 hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year and a half. We both went to different schools about 5 hours apart. Currently, I am studying abroad in Australia and he's back in the states. Although I don't want to be with anyone else or vise versa, I made it my number one importance to experience life while I am here.” - Female, in a different country than significant other, still in the relationship

 

“We were high school sweet hearts and all the feelings were super intense. We were in a good place; I was over the moon. We were in a bad place; I was too depressed to do anything but cry. He was the first boy I ever kissed. He went to college while I was in my senior year of high school. He was only doing an associate's degree so we figured 2 years wouldn't be be so long. He had only been away a month when he cheated on me. I was still trying to come to terms with what had happened when he decided that we had to break up. He felt too guilty to ever look at me again without hating himself. So, just to recap innocent little 17 year old me found out (through a text while I was in science class) that I had been cheated on and, before I had a moment alone or time to think, I had also been dumped by a boy who claimed he loved me more than anyone in the world. So, please don't judge me when I tell you that I got back together with him an hour later. We dated for a another year but broke up shortly after starting my freshman year at Emmanuel. Most of that last year was spent with both of us hating ourselves. I spent so much time trying to keep him from feeling bad that I never took care of my mental health in the aftermath of being cheated on.” - Female, 5+ hour distance, not still in the relationship

 

Are long-distance relationships recommended?

 

People Who Said Yes: 

 

For some Emmanuel students, whether they’re still in their relationships or not, the experience is worth the hardships. Here is what five of them had to say: 

 

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“I recommend it because at the end of the day you know they are there for you if it is X miles away. It’s also is a good way to balance a healthy relationship between spending time with them as well as your friends and doing work (school or otherwise). When your partner lives on the same campus, or even the next school over, it can be tempting to want to see them all the time everyday, but this way it benefits both you and helps to retain focus.” - Male, 3-4 hour distance, still in the relationship 

 

“My significant other and I were extremely good at communicating with each other. We would communicate about how much we communicated and we would be aware if it needed to be more or less. My advice is, don’t be afraid to try to find more time to Skype, call, text. And likewise, don’t be afraid to mention when you’re talking too much and missing out on things.” - Female, 3-4 hour distance, not still in the relationship 

 

“I think it really comes down to what you want and need in a relationship and who the other person is/their wants and needs. Starting a long distance relationship in college can be a lot at times, so I don’t think I would suggest beginning one unless you are committed and have talked about how it will work with your s/o thoroughly beforehand.” -Male, 1-2 hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“The antiquated trope, distance makes the heart grow fonder, seems to hold some truth. However, it is not always easy. If you can hold onto the happiness of being with a person, even when they aren’t in your immediate company, it is absolutely worth it. Granted, I am definitely always looking forward to the next time I see my significant other.  Connecting with someone on that deep of a level is kind of a powerful experience.” -Male, 1-2 hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“Despite my personal relationship failure, I have two friends who have been together since I was in the 8th grade. They made it through 4 years of long distance with only one year left. One of those friends told me this summer that he is planning on proposing in the upcoming year. Their love gives me hope. Even though I was in a toxic, borderline abusive relationship, there are some loves that can withstand anything” -Female, 5+ hour distance, not still in the relationship 

 

People Who Said No:

 

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Similar to the people who said “yes,” the people who have reservations about long-distance relationships were a mix of people not in them and still in them. Here are the thoughts of five of them:

 

“No because it is very tough, and you both have to be 100% serious about your relationship.” -Female, 5+ hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“No, legit just does not work. Ever. I’ve been in quite a few long distance relationships and here we are. Still single.” -Male, 1-2 hour distance, not still in the relationship

 

“In some cases it can work, but generally jealousy and insecurities can be revealed by the distance.” -Female, in a different country than significant other, not still in the relationship

 

“No because it strains the relationship and makes it hard to continue the relationship.” -Female, in a different country than significant other, still in the relationship.

 

“If you aren’t truly committed to calling someone every night, and seeing them at least once every two weeks, it just isn’t worth it. Physically it isn’t fair, as well as emotionally. The distance should be temporary, and you should have a plan in place for staying in touch as much as possible.” -Male, 3-4 hour distance, not still in the relationship

 

“No, they are s***.” -Female, 5+ hour distance, not still in the relationship

 

Conclusion and Advice:

 

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What we claimed at the beginning still stands, no two long-distance relationships are alike, and neither are their outcomes! What can be learned from this survey, though, is that if you’re in this situation, you’re far from alone. We hope some of these experiences resonated with you, the recommendations gave you more clarity and that these closing six (we struggled to pick only five for this one!) pieces of advice provide guidance as well: 

 

“If you both are students or if at least one of you are students, prioritize work and don’t wait by the phone. They understand your busy and they are busy too.” -Female, 1-2 hours, not still in the relationship

 

“Long distance is tough, your friends 11/10 probably will not understand so it is good to confide in someone who does. Communication is key and try to make a time in the day or in the week to FaceTime or talk on the phone!  Also, self care is important!!!!” -Female, 5+ hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“Definitely set boundaries early on about what is and is not okay, I’ve had friends who were in long distance relationships and then went south quickly because their partner thought because they were long distance they could mess around with other people and get away with it and it be okay (this is still cheating!!!), so having a talk about expectations is necessary. Another big thing is being as flexible and understanding as possible, knowing that even if you plan for something to happen or to meet up with your partner things could change for any number of reasons out of you or your partners control. Also you need to, and this applies to any relationship, be honest with yourself and your partner if long distance is feasible for the both of you. One of you may have a need for a physical connection to be part of a relationship and the other may not, it’s these types of conversations that need to be had early on to assess whether or not having a long distance relationship will be beneficial or harm one of you in the long run.” -Male, 3-4 hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“Take it in stride. Know that it’s hard. Know that you’ll miss each other. Know that you both made the decision to do this and whatever happens will be for the best.” -Female, 3-4 hour distance, not still in the relationship

 

“Pay attention to how you feel. If you are struggling with ideas about if you should stay in a long distance relationship, it is more about making sure you feel heard. It can be lonely to feel like you aren’t being missed as much by someone as how much you miss them. Take care of yourself, and use communication building with your significant other to better understanding the long-distance geography of your relationship.” -Male, 1-2 hour distance, still in the relationship

 

“You may think this person is the love of your life, which could be true. However, do not let them stop you from experiencing life. They will support you, not bring you down. They are in this together with you, not against you. So keep that love for them but also yourself.” -Female, in a different country than significant other, still in the relationship

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