We all remember it. As we left high school and began at West Chester, there was a sense of happiness but anxiety. Leaving everything we knew behind was not an easy task. The people most affected, however, were most likely those who had a significant other from high school. As more and more students leave their adolescent lives behind for higher education, many of them are facing long-distance relationships for the first time. How do West Chester students feel about it? Some feel it is worthwhile to hold onto the love that they found in high school. “It is something that you really have to think about, and you need to have a lot of trust in your ‘significant other,” one student said, “But if you both really want it to work and you do have trust in each other it should be OK. Long distance relationships for students I was used to seeing my boyfriend every day and now we see each other once a month and on holidays…he knows everything about me and how to handle things if I get upset and now I had to find another way to calm down and someone else I could talk to if I really needed it.”
Not all students found success in maintaining relationships when they left home. One student said, “It’s hard to keep a long-distance relationship fresh because you rarely see the person.” Another student, who recently broke up with his girlfriend, vented that “long-distance relationships are a blank check for deception. I’ve been through two. You don’t know what’s going on, and neither do they. I don’t endorse it.” On a more positive note, he added, “It’s like the opposite of seeing someone everyday and getting sick of them.”
Stephanie Rybicki of Penn State University offers advice for college students involved in long-distance relationships. Using her own relationship, which eventually led to marriage as an example, she illustrates that there are four key elements that are vital to maintaining a longdistancerelationship.
The first is communication. “Keeping in touch is important, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Arthur and I usually only talk on the phone about twice a month, and try to keep it under a half hour. I recommend trying to alternate who’s footing the bill. Short upbeat messages left on the answering machine are nice too – you can play them over, and over, and over.”
The second item is trust. Rybicki explains that insecurity has no place in a long-distance relationship. “In order to pull off a LDR, you need to have a lot of trust in your partner. If you don’t, you may end up wasting a lot of time wondering where they are and who they’re with.”
Third, Rybicki emphasizes the importantence of respect. She said that building new friendships is important. She writes, “Your significant other should respect the existence and time devoted to this new life. A new life doesn’t mean you don’t care about your partner anymore, it means you are still a living, breathing, valuable person when they aren’t around. Respect your partner’s decision to live a life which doesn’t revolve solely around you.”
Finally, like any other relationship, a long-distance relationship must be built on honesty. She writes, “If your studies or job are keeping you busy, or if you’re sick, tell you partner – it’s easier to understand why you haven’t e-mailed in a while, or why you seem cranky/moody. Don’t forget to tell them about the good things happening in your life as well as the bad ones!”
Sadly, not every relationship lasts. In a LDR, however, it can be hard to break the news to the other person when you rarely see them to begin with. Rybicki tell to students to “not leave the other person in the dark, be honest with them. This doesn’t mean being rude or thoughtless. Try to avoid telling them before major exams, or during finals. And don’t leave it on an answering machine.