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Monday, July 26, 2021

Long-distance lovers make geography work

Many students find moving away to college to be an exciting, nerve-wracking time in their lives. For some it’s a time to meet new friends, and maybe even that special someone.

For others, however, it could mean having to leave that special someone behind.

A study published in the journal Communication Research in 2010 by the University of Kentucky’s Laura Stafford stated that as many as half of all college students are currently in long-distance relationships, and up to 75 percent will be in such a relationship at some point.

Stefanie DeLaCruz, junior psychology and human development double major, was with her boyfriend for two years before she left her hometown to attend UC Davis.

“The hardest part is probably just missing him and adjusting to not seeing and talking to him all the time like we did before I left for college,” DeLaCruz said. “I have work, school and internships and he works 56 hours a week and goes to school full time, so it is really hard for us to find times that don’t conflict with our schedules to talk or Skype.”

Senior human development major Chilly Her agreed that simply missing her boyfriend has been the hardest part.

“We were basically high school sweethearts so the transition of seeing him practically everyday to seeing him only once a month was hard, and it still is,” Her said.

Both DeLaCruz and Her, however, said neither of them lack support from their boyfriends they left behind. While both couples admit that it gets tough, they would never seriously consider calling it quits.

Maybe these two couples are just lucky enough to know they will survive the distance, but Counseling and Psychological Services psychologist Bedford Palmer suggested that all long-distance couples can last if they are willing to try.

“Like in all relationships, communication is key,” Palmer said. “Small things like assuring your partner in terms of your feelings [for example, “I love you,” “I miss you,” “Can’t wait to see you”], being positive, sharing the things that have happened in your life that they were not present for.”

Palmer also suggests that these long-distance relationships have the potential to be viewed in a positive light, and don’t necessarily have to interfere with schooling.

“Being in a long-distance relationship can provide a level of autonomy, which can allow students to be more focused on their work at school, and more focused on the relationship when they are with their partner,” Palmer said.

Palmer also reminded students that couples are going to have problems within their relationships regardless of whether there is a large distance between them or not.

“Some researchers have explained that relationship stressors happen at around the same frequency regardless of the distance; however, the types of stressors are different,” Palmer said. “For folks that are in long-distance relationships, the stress seems to come from being absent from one’s partner whereas in geographically close relationships, stress seems to come from daily hassles.”

Regardless of the distance, DeLaCruz believes that if the love is strong enough, couples will always be able to work through the issues.

“We have never thought about calling it quits, but of course there have been some hard times for the both of us,” DeLaCruz said. “But in the end we are always reminded how much we love each other and how our love can always overcome the hard times.”

Her also agreed that sometimes the relationships may just need to make a few adjustments.

“You grow up and you change. Your goals probably changed, too. The problem is that usually going into a relationship you already have an image of what kind of person your boyfriend or girlfriend will someday become, and when they don’t turn out that way you need to either adjust or let go. It looks like we’re adjusting,” Her said.

Both Her and DeLaCruz agreed that there are a lot of things they miss about spending the majority of their time with their significant others.

Since Her has been with her boyfriend for six-and-a-half years, and DeLaCruz with hers for four years, both students have gotten very attached to the idea of having their other halves around.

“I miss everything about him! Not only is he an amazing boyfriend, but he is an amazing person,” DeLaCruz said.

“What I probably miss most is the simple things that we’d usually do for one another; when I need to carry heavy things or get things from high to reach places. It’s the simple things like that that makes you say, ‘If only he was here, he would do this for me…’ That kind of stuff,” Her said.

Palmer had one last piece of advice for any couples out there enduring the trials of a long-distance relationship.

“Sharing activities, like studying together or cooking a meal while on video chat, can be good ways to stay engaged. All this can be done in a healthy way, if you manage your time and remember that people need to get their work done, regardless of if their partner lives close by or far away,” Palmer said.

MICHELLE STAUFFER can be reached at features@theaggie.org.

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