Going the distance is no simple task

Sometime you should just listen to your mom, and have a bit of fun.

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

“You’re still young, I just want you to have fun.”

My mother stressed those words as I entered my first year of university, the beginning of what would be a six-month long distance relationship with my girlfriend at the time.

A set of rules were quickly established in the first few weeks. We had to FaceTime every two days — no — every day. “Good morning” and “good night” texts were always expected and a mid-day update was always appreciated.

Building social circles and maintaining good grades became a challenge, as my relationship consumed most of my energy. Our emotional interdependence was a burden and I realized the structure of our relationship was not built for long distance. We officially ended things the day after Valentine’s Day.

Even though my long distance relationship floundered, others have managed to stay afloat or even flourish.

Currently in a long distance relationship is fourth-year business student Chelsea Lee. She credits her relationship’s success to their more personal communication methods and respective strong independence.

“Long distance relationships are not for everybody, they are not for people who are very clingy, not for people who need a lot attention and not for people who need a lot of FaceTime,” Lee said.

Whenever conflict arises, Lee and her significant other make a deliberate effort to keep things off instant messaging, and rather opt for phone calls or FaceTime to allow them to hear each other’s voice and/or see each other’s faces.

Keeping communication as personal as possible ensures that misunderstandings are less prevalent, as we largely rely on tone and body language to convey our feelings. Emotional expression falls on a spectrum that emojis and emoticons could never replicate. But simply talking on the phone isn’t the only step to be taken to resolve conflict.

“You always want to resolve things before you go to sleep, and make sure you leave the conversation without any form of negativity because that will just carry on to the next day,” said Lee.

“And at the end of the night we always make sure that we tell each other exactly how we feel and we say ‘I love you.’”

Another challenge faced is trying to keep things exciting and avoiding monotony. Where many couples go wrong is in their insistency to share every waking moment or feeling with their significant other throughout the day. These couples are simply spreading their love too thin.

Laurier alumni Andrew Savory explained that his past long distance relationship thrived by avoiding constant communication.

“[When] you get distraught by the fact that you can’t keep in frequent contact with each other … you can’t let it wear down on you,” said Savory.

“Just set a time once a week to talk, you can’t be talking everyday.”

Being in a constant state of communication dampers the passion that keeps relationships exciting. It’s better to allow those stories, events and feelings to accumulate rather than sharing everything throughout the day. That way when you finally do talk, the conversation is engaging and reminds you of the reason why you are committing yourself to this person.

For the first-years with their high school sweethearts, there’s probably a huge weight of uncertainty weighing down on you.

When I pressed Savory and Lee about what they thought about high school relationships continuing into university, they shared very differing viewpoints.

On one hand, Lee felt that “every high school couple thinks they’ve found their princess or knight in shining armour, and think that they’re going to be together forever, but chances are they won’t.”

In contrast, Savory stressed that you “never want to have that ‘what if?’ moment, [he’d] rather take the risk and see what happens.”

The truth is, it differs on a case-by-case scenario. When you are debating the state of your relationship, it’s important to strip away the passion for a moment to assess it from a realistic and constructive perspective.

University is a stressful transition, and our first instinct is to cling to our most personal and fulfilling bonds, even if they lack long-term sustainability.

Sometime you should just listen to your mom, and have a bit of fun.

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