Ryan Chartrand

As it is seasonally appropriate, I shall take this time to impart to you a jewel of knowledge I acquired as a freshman here at Cal Poly, when I was still young and the current phase of my romantic-relationship education commenced.

As I recall, it was a fellow freshman who took it upon himself to inform my roommate and me of what apparently was dormitory-common sense.

Let me introduce to you – if you haven’t met already – the concept of “turkey droppings.”

As I understand it: girls who left boyfriends back home (or whose boyfriends attended another college) return home for Thanksgiving, only to come to the painful realization that maintaining the long-distance relationship is too difficult. So, before Thanksgiving break is over, they sever these connections.

The girls come back to finish out the quarter, reeling (or rejoicing) from the recent separation. With the added stressor of the approaching holiday season, these girls now find themselves in a state of emotional vulnerability.

And hunting season opens. The guys back at school move in on the opportunity before them: a whole batch of newly-available girls who are looking for comfort from the fresh pangs of the break-up and someone to be all they want for Christmas.

Hence, “turkey droppings”: the result of many-a-failed long-distance relationship.

If your reaction is one of horror (like mine was), you’re quite justified. First – to be called a “dropping” of any sort, of the poultry variety or otherwise, is just crude. Second – how could you say that? Of course, you’re quite aware that long-distance relationships aren’t cakewalks. But, you assure yourself, that won’t happen to me! I’m not going to come back from Thanksgiving a victim of that fated phenomenon!

Ah yes, the long-distance relationship (henceforth, LDR). On the vast plains and dense jungles of the college ecosystem, the LDR is a common creature that has long been the subject of intense dating-column scrutiny.

The general consensus on the LDR isn’t pleasant, and for good reason. The most commonly-known subspecies of LDR demands unreasonable amounts of attention, and won’t survive without a constant stream of phone calls, emails, text messages, voicemails, facebook pokes, etc.

We’re all acquainted with the basic argument: don’t do the long-distance thing. It doesn’t work. Maybe it’s working now, but it won’t last (so we’re told). The list of reasons why goes on and on, and by now, we’ve heard it all a thousand discouraging times.

Fret not, fellow long-distancers; I’m here to argue in your favor. For once, you will hear some encouraging words. We’ve gotten too much flak and not enough encouragement for our endeavors. It’s time to speak out and defend our (either way, temporary) way of life!

LDRs CAN work!

Before my psychology cohorts come after me armed with all the opposing evidence, let me rephrase:

LDRs can work, as long as both parties fully understand and are ready and willing to handle all the components involved in maintaining one.

Wait. I have an English-major urge to revise.

Relationships can work, as long as both parties fully understand and are ready and willing to handle all the components involved in maintaining one.

LDRs just happen to be a kind of relationship that may require a little more of that understanding, readiness and willingness. Because of the strain of the geographic remove, the focus and energies that would go into time spent in each other’s physical presence must shift to other important aspects – read: communication.

I’ve heard it argued that one should limit the contact in an LDR to once a day; there’s no need to inform them what you’ve been doing, where and with whom you’ve been to excess. The emotional health of you, your partner, and your relationship will certainly be better-off if you both trust that you each are going about your own lives as you would if the other was around.

I agree that your partner doesn’t need a Podcast on your life, and neither of you need your heads riveted to your cell phones. But it doesn’t make sense that a once-a-day prescription is enough to nourish a relationship that must span any distance, be it ten miles or 110.

It seems only natural to want to share with your partner what’s going on with you, if he or she isn’t around to share it; to want to include them in the only way you can. A steady flow of contact is key to ensuring both you and your partner feel a part of each other’s lives, though you’re living them miles apart.

And the LDR may even be preferable for some collegians. At this early-adulthood stage of life, with everything else going on (classes, work, some scrap of a social life), it’s hard enough to focus on your individual needs, much less someone else’s. It may be more suitable for some not to have the pressure of a significant other always physically present.

It all comes down to one universal truth: the LDR is just as possible as a no-distance relationship. They’re merely close cousins of the same genus, and both require trust, commitment, and loving to subsist.

So, this week as you head home for Thanksgiving break, fear not. Enjoy the turkey (or Tofurky), mashed potatoes and gravy, and rest assured that if you’re both willing, your LDR can make it to a new year.

Sarah Carbonel is an English and pyschology junior and Mustang Daily dating columnist.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *