So, your boyfriend is graduating but you’ve still got a few years left at Cal Poly? Your girlfriend is studying abroad this summer? Your high school sweetheart is still in high school (but totally 18 now, right?). Well friend, now is the time to consider attempting the long-distant relationship.
Not only am I currently doing long distance right now, but this is the second time I’ve done it with the same person. But don’t think I’m going to be sympathetic to you long-distancers. I think it’s a terrible idea. So here is a list of why my long distance relationship works, but yours won’t:
1. The distance
My boyfriend lives in San Jose, an easy three-hour drive from San Luis Obispo. While I can’t exactly give him booty call in the middle of the week, I can easily plan a trip to see him for the weekend. I’m even willing to spend six hours driving to make a day trip to visit if we’re having some sort of relationship emergency. So how far apart will you be from your significant other? When you live further apart, your visits will become less often and more expensive. Most couples try to compensate for this by spending “quality time” with each other during visits, i.e. never leaving the bedroom for the duration of the visit and calling each other every five minutes for an update while they’re apart. These couples don’t have a lot of friends. Out-of-state relationship? Good luck with that. Out of country? Time to rethink your options.
2. The foundation of the relationship
I’ve been seeing my boyfriend, off and on, for a little over five years now. The first time we tried long distance it was about 10 months into our relationship, past several relationship landmines: exclusivity, “I love yous” and becoming sexually active. This seems like a no-brainer: make sure your relationship works on its own before throwing distance into the mix. There are already so many other factors working against your new relationship. And don’t fool yourself into trying to make “just dating” work over long distance. You can’t tell people you’ve been “seeing someone” if you haven’t, technically speaking, seen them in a while. So that guy from high school you’ve reconnected with through Facebook? Good luck with that one. And that girl you met in Mexico over spring break? Time to rethink your options.
3. Length of time
My boyfriend graduated last year and I’m graduating this year. When we began long distance, we knew it would only be for the school year. With a specific end to the long-distance phase, we can reassure ourselves when the distance becomes difficult to deal with — only two more quarters of this … only six more months of this … only three more weeks of this. More importantly, nine months is not going to change you that much. Everyone changes bit by bit over time, and the only way a long-term relationship will continue to work is if both people change together, which is very difficult to do when you don’t see each other. So think about it: How much have you changed in the last year? Probably a bit, but you were still basically the same person. How much have you changed in five years? I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be friends with me five years ago, let alone be in a relationship with her. She was obnoxious. So your girlfriend is going on a mission trip for two or three years? Good luck with that one. Your boyfriend found a career that will keep him in New York indefinitely? Time to rethink your options.
Now I happen to have all three of these factors working for me, and I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m still in my current relationship. But if you’ve got one of these factors working against you, go ahead and give it a try, just be aware of what’s ahead of you. Generally speaking, though, long-distance relationships suck, and I wouldn’t recommend them.