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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Long-distance relationships devalue your college experience

Why your long-distance relationship is tethering you down

In what is the most unabridged capitalization of my own personal turmoil, I’d like to discuss the long-distance relationship. At it’s best, long distance is a best friend in a phone, and at its worst, it’s an incessant obligation to the melodic ‘ping’ of a text. 

 I’m not going to beat around the bush — this is a difficult topic to discuss. When arriving as a first-year on campus, it can be difficult not to rely on certain crutches from the past: your stuffed animal that you snuck in your carry-on, the one random heirloom that you never use but still brought and your friends from home. The longing for the past is unrelenting, and if you let it overwhelm you, it can directly conflict with your move into the future.

 The long-distance relationship is the epitome of this cruel dichotomy. It is all of the labor of a relationship without the reward of touch, time and communication. A text left on “read” is a person ignored and a missed phone call is a slight that cuts to the core.

A good friend of mine has been in a long-distance relationship for the past six months and has found that it has made the transition into college even more difficult. 

Suddenly, the world in which you are together is no longer the real world but a world ruled by your device and those who doubt the longevity of your relationship. 

A quick Google search is immediately reflective of these views. The most popular searches include a stream of nagging questions: Do long-distance relationships work? How do I survive a long-distance relationship? What is the success rate of long-distance relationships? 

All of these questions imply the same underlying message: long distance does not work. 

As a first-year student, the whole world is crashing down on you. It’s hard, and being in a long-distance relationship can be comforting. 

Those who are involved in a long-distance relationship often claim that their relationship provides them with the emotional support that is amiss in the people they meet every day in Davis. I reject this idea wholeheartedly. 

When you are constantly reporting your day to your significant other, your lived experience is diminished. Most of us seek emotional support from our partners in a true state of crisis, but the lack of bike parking in front of California Hall doesn’t warrant a long-winded complaint to your significant other — just tell a friend. 

The time that you spend typing out another text is time that you can use to develop emotional connections with the people around you, especially with other first-year students. Getting down and dirty in the shared trauma of first-year life is not only relieving but helps you bond with your peers. 

The reality of the situation is this: If you are attempting to “survive” a long-distance relationship then you should not be in that relationship. When handled without care and communication, these relationships can be quickly decimated by the tensions of a new school and lifestyle. But when given too much attention, these relationships can interfere with one of the most meaningful time periods of your life. 

Breaking off a long-distance relationship in college can feel like the end of the world when you’ve neglected to build a life in your new environment. Being in a long-distance relationship is not in and of itself bad, but we have to remember to live our own lives. You can’t let your relationship define you. Many people allude to this idea, but it’s especially applicable as a first-year college student. 

Up until the point I exited my relationship, it felt like I was split between two worlds: the world my boyfriend was living in and the world I was trying to create for myself. Relationships are very demanding, and long distance narrows the means of meeting these demands. I often found myself using all my free time to talk with my boyfriend, and all the moments between our talks were just waiting periods until the next one. I was trying to build a new life while orienting it around someone who wasn’t physically present. 

Now, all of the emotional energy that I was using to maintain my relationship is being rightfully devoted to myself. I didn’t realize I was missing out on personal experiences and my own development until it ended. 

It’s not for me to tell you not to try a long-distance relationship. All I can say is that it wasn’t going to work for me until I could become my own person, and I’m excited to find out who I am.

Written by: Isabella Chuecos – ifchuecos@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie


  1. I wholeheartedly disagree with this article. I’m a second-year veterinary student at Davis and most of us are in LDRs and making it work. Many of us have recently gotten engaged as well. If the relationship is right, you make it work. If the relationship is right and you let it go just so you can “live your best life” during your college years, that’s a really sad and immature way to live.

    • Completely agree.

      I’m a third year student at Davis and have been long distance with my boyfriend for this past semester.

      Things work well because we love each other and make time for one another, it is quite selfish to cut things off of something strong for the reason of not knowing how to balance time with yourself and with them.

      This sounds like a resentful diary log fueled by a stage of grief.


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