Picture this… boy meets girl in New York City and it is automatic love at first sight. The first kiss becomes instantaneous love. Everything is seemingly perfect for the new couple until she suddenly moves to San Francisco to finish her journalism degree. What does this mean for the new love birds? Going the Distance, 2010 movie blockbuster, paints this perfect picture of the classic long distance love story. The film follows the journey of Erin and Garrett who decided to keep their love alive despite the challenges of distance, ending in a successful vivacious love story.
Long distance relationships are often more challenging and complex than typically portrayed on the big screen like in Going the Distance. Now, add college on the top of the list of challenges.
College long distance relationships can work, but it depends a lot on the personality and the motivation of the individuals involved.
In a survey conducted by the Pace Press of 50 college students nationwide, 46% entered into a long distance relationship at some point in their college careers. As the statistics show, college long distance relationships are more common than often thought to be.
But what is the common consensus of long distance relationships in college? Are they successful or are they too challenging? Should you get into one yourself?
“So definitely at times there are challenges cause obviously it’s hard like when you guys don’t get to see each other, but in the end when you do get to see each other that moment is really rewarding” said Kameron Kamel, a freshman at Pace University. Kamel and his girlfriend Jennifer Piekarz started dating in high school and are currently in a successful long distance relationship.
“You have to plan it out. You have to plan out when you’re going to see them in advance,” said Piekarz who happened to be visiting Kameron in the city. “Plan out when your going to talk to them. Plan out when you’re going to fit them in your schedule and its definitely more technical than some people think relationships should be, but that’s how you have to make it work.”
60% of college students typically think long distance relationships are successful in college, according to The Pace Press’s survey.
But, there was a common trend in survey results regarding long distance relationships and their challenges. Students feel that trust, jealously, and the space apart are all prodigious challenges in long distance love.
The looming idea of the “wild college student” sometimes plays into the fear associated with long distance relationships. Movies like Spring Breakers, starring hit celebrity Selena Gomez, help to paint this image further. The media constructs the ideology of a typical “wild college student” who partakes in a rebellious lifestyle full of crime, drugs and partying.
But trust is not the only issue that college students find in these relationships.
“My biggest challenge in a long distance relationship is not being able to physically be with my boyfriend,” Nina Mojares freshman at Boston College shared. “As a freshman at a school in Boston while my boyfriend is in Arizona, it is definitely a challenge being so far from him, but that only makes our communication and trust a lot stronger, which is most important in any relationship.”
College long distance relationships are not always successful though. For some, the distance is too much to handle between college and finding themselves as individuals.
“For me, it was more of that I had a lot on my plate and I didn’t feel like I had the mental capacity to support both her and myself without bringing myself down,” said an anonymous Pace student who fell out of a long term long distance relationship. “We were living different lives, and I feel like we are going in separate directions right now and I just felt like it wasn’t the best time.”
Kamel had a different perspective on the reality of living different lives in a long-distance relationship.
“Communication is key. And being on the same page. Facetime has obviously been a big part. We sometimes write weekly letters to each other,” Kamel added while smiling at Piekarz who nodded in agreement. “It’s like living separate lives together” Jenn responded.
The Pace Press survey showed that out of the 46% of students who were in long distance relationships, 80.1% believed it was worth tackling the challenges of distance.
So what are the benefits?
More than half the students surveyed agree that seeing each other after being apart is so much more rewarding, also distance makes the heart grow fonder.
“The biggest perk is being able to have so much more time to do other things,” said Pace freshman Emma Note. “You get to have your own friends and be more of your own person without worrying that you are neglecting your significant other.”
But long distance relationships are not for everyone. Sometimes these challenges become too overbearing, and therefore impact the overall college experience for some students.
“In college, I feel like I found who I am and I discovered a lot about myself, and I feel like I missed out on a lot of what could’ve shaped me because I spent a lot of time living the same life I did in high school,” shared the same anonymous Pace student. “I’m not saying that long distance is unhealthy for you, it’s just about where you put your commitments and your priorities that will drive you positively or negatively for what it is you want.”