DISCLAIMER: Anecdote is based not on my personal experiences, but those of friends. So don’t blame me…
Thanksgiving break is a traditional time of gain for college students — in weight, sleep or both. However, for freshmen and transfers, it’s a traditional time of loss as well. During this festive time of year, a high number of breakups occur between these students and their significant others back home. Urban Dictionary calls this phenomenon the “Turkey Drop.” Basically, college turns an ordinary relationship into a two-and-a-half-month time bomb, which few couples are able to diffuse.
For example, let’s pretend I had a boyfriend in high school. We’d gotten together in May or so and had been absolutely happy ever since. We realize that we’re going to separate colleges, but neither of us abandons our choice to follow the other (which would be an even worse idea). We know that maintaining the relationship will be hard, and promise to call each other every night as we say our tearful farewells at the airport. We part knowing that our love is strong and pure and will see us through this separation.
Along comes Week of Welcome. Thrust into a group of 15 strangers, it’s difficult not to meet new people. I meet even more people the next week — in classes, in my dorm, at the dining hall … wherever. I like talking to some of these people, and we do other things together. Suddenly, I have friends and we have fun together. I tell my boyfriend about all of this, and listen to stories of his new friends. We know that we can’t just be hermits in love, but it’s hard to make time for both friends and one another. His friends think he talks to me too often; my friends think my boyfriend sounds like a loser. We have less and less in common, as we have different majors. Calls become less frequent. We start wondering what the other is doing.
One night, I go to a party and have what he sees as a little too much fun. A picture on Facebook shows a guy with his hand on my shoulder. My boyfriend wants to know who he is. He’s just a friend, and I say so, but he doesn’t believe me. Although I’m not cheating on him, the idea is looking more and more attractive, with the abundance of new men all around. Who’s to say that they wouldn’t be better boyfriends since I have never given them a chance? Did I decide on my one true love too soon? It can’t be healthy, right (especially since we don’t trust each other)? And who needs all this drama when I have school to worry about? I start to consider a breakup.
But why Thanksgiving break? Because I’m not a dick and I want to do it right and break up in person, that’s why. For most students, Thanksgiving is the first opportunity to return home since September, which theoretically would mean a happy reunion of the lovebirds. Happy reunions that quickly shatter into breakups. Even if the breakup isn’t premeditated, the contact could backfire. If you think that one date can somehow fix your problems, then prepare to be sorely disappointed. Besides being awkward because of the long separation, the reunion could reveal how much a couple has changed, or how little magic is still there.
Thankfully, recent freshmen are less naïve. It is common knowledge that distance can kill a relationship, and many couples are opting to break up before it has the opportunity. The possibility of a preemptive breakup can prompt the claim that you are the one-in-a-million couple who can make it work. Are you, though? Well, in my opinion, this one-in-a-million couple would absolutely need to have:
- A strong relationship before school starts (at least four months solid)
- Trust in each other
- Independent social lives
- Good communication
- Contact at least once a week, preferably daily (via phone, IM, Facebook etc.)
- Face-to-face contact as much as possible, preferably once a month (video chat doesn’t count)
- Sex, through any of the contact media.
If you made it through the break with your significant other still officially yours, then congratulations. If you just suffered a breakup, then condolences. And if you are about to go off to school and start a long-distance relationship, than I wish you the best of luck. We all hope that love will win out, and a love that can outlast the rigors of a long-distance relationship is a love I wish everyone had.
Burning questions and bright ideas may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org