We think we can do anything. That we can conquer whatever we set out minds to. Reality says otherwise. Some things are unconquerable. A long distance relationship when you’re in school is almost one of those things. You don’t get into them thinking they won’t work. You, hopefully, get into them understanding they’ll be MORE work than your typical face-to-face relationship. Then reality will set in and you’ll realize that there are a lot of unforeseen problems and a couple giant ones thanks to the added space. First though, let’s be clear on what qualifies as being a LDR.
It’s got to last a couple of months, at least. I’d argue two to three months, generally a semester or just shy of one. Being apart for a few weeks doesn’t count. Sorry, but them’s the breaks. Your relationship hasn’t been defined by the distance, therefore it’s not a LDR.
The distance is the defining characteristic of a LDR. It’s the D for goodness’ sake. And it’s going to be one of the biggest problems you incur and will make all of your other problems way worse.
The distance itself will be something you argue or choose to pretend doesn’t bother you. Either way it’s going to add a huge layer of stress and anxiety. You won’t necessarily be there for each other the moment you want the other person to be. An emergency or a freakout may not be feasible to deal with in the moment since you’d be trying to get in touch at an unscheduled time. There’s a lot less flexibility and thus a lot of times when you can’t be there emotionally when you’re needed for support. And vice versa.
Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. Sure, being away for a month might help rekindle the spark, maybe even help the flames shoot higher for a little while, but when you can’t see each other for three or more months? It’s more likely you’ll start to think of your partner almost as an abstract. An idea. An ideal, maybe? But they’ll fade as being a flesh and blood person to you.
Not to mention all of the flesh and blood people that you’re surrounded with on or around your campus. To say you won’t have options would be a lie. You’ll have lots of temptations and you’ll have to manage them. You’ll have to be mindful of your triggers. You’re going to feel a little excluded on group dates and maybe at parties. Just the way it works. One more challenge. But hey, there will be times when you see the other end of this LDR, right?
Limited time. And you’ll start thinking about how much leaving each other hurts. And how you put yourself through that pain each and every time. And. Because and. The time’s precious but ticking away. You could easily start counting down the minutes you have to leave each other instead of treasuring the time you have. Not to mention that while you’ve scheduled this time in advance, the rest of your life’s woes and obligations haven’t. So you still have your everyday stress and vigors to contend with (school work, work work, family crises, friends in need, a million other things that can get in the way).
Then there’s the tech aspect to everything. You’re now relying on technology to help maintain your intimacy with each other. You have to achieve a level of communication and organizing that most people hire other people to do for them. And what happens when you lose time because your phone battery dies? Or your internet’s out so you can’t Skype? Think that’ll lead to frustration? Think that frustration might lead to an argument or two?
Plus lets be honest about another technological reality: Skype sex won’t satisfy you forever.
Look at all the effort. Look at the mountain of challenges. Look at the time. Look at the kind of priority you must, must, must, make this relationship and every aspect of maintaining it. Does this sound appealing when you’re involved in four of the most important developmental years of your life. Does this sound attractive as someone who wants to have the freedom to explore and discover their identity?
Could it work out? There’s always a chance. Just understand that it’s a slim chance. But hey, some people love to bet on the long shots. Others prefer living in the moment.
[Lead image via William Perugini/Shutterstock]