Are Long Distance Relationships for You?

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Courtesy of Jessica Cambreros

Long distance relationships requires effort from both partners, but how do these relationships thrive when couples are pulled miles apart?

Fatima Zarco Gomez and Javi Rosas

Santa Rosa Junior College business major Honey Behrens,18, has been in a long-distance relationship for two years with her partner from Canada, but at times she feels even the longevity can’t make up for lack of physical contact.

Behrens worries about her ability to stay faithful, and she admits to correcting herself on this issue. “I really like that physical contact with someone, and being in a long-distance relationship makes it hard,” she said. “There are times where I’ve had to basically remind myself you are in a relationship, you are committed to someone, you can’t do that to someone that you care about.” 

Behrens and her partner recently met up in the summer when she traveled to Canada for a quick connection, but before this, and presently, she used technology to stay in touch. “Usually if I’m on my phone, I’m probably texting my partner. We call before bed a lot, so we kind of keep in touch as often as we can,” she said. “We plan like little date nights. We’ll play Minecraft or we’ll play video games. We’ll do little movie nights.”

Relationships in college are difficult enough, but when distance is added to the equation, issues of communication, trust and infidelity further complicate matters. Santa Rosa Junior College students are no exception. Despite technological advances with FaceTime and other smartphone apps, they still struggle to maintain intimacy when separated from romantic partners.

Infidelity — or the fear of a partner cheating — is a major factor to consider when starting a long-distance relationship (LDR). Unfaithfulness is an issue in regular relationships, but LDRs can boost this anxiety and add stress to each partner.

According to a study from the University of Missouri, 75% of college students are or will at some point enter an LDR. These students will usually communicate with their partners through technology.

LDRs have always been a risk because many develop online. Developing an LDR through a dating app or website can open the door to scams, catfishers and blackmail scares. It can range from pyramid schemes meant to take your money to people threatening to release important information in exchange for a price or individuals who pretend to be someone who they are not. These threats can be harmless or dangerous and can impact a victim both financially and mentally. 

People online might not always show their true intentions. It’s difficult to know what a partner has planned or if they feel the same way. It’s easier for people to be manipulative or uncaring while hiding behind the internet. 

At first, it may seem that your partner is an honest and caring person. After some time they might start to make you feel bad for doing things that you enjoy such as going out with your friends and spending some time to yourself. They could manipulate you into thinking that if you don’t spend every second with them that you are a bad person. 

“The thing about online relationships is a lot of people almost take it as an excuse to be cruel, because they can’t see you,” said SRJC journalism major Alexium Johnson, 19. 

Alex’s experience of long-distance relationships reflects more of a technological perspective. His worries were more about potential partners abusing the fact that there wasn’t a face-to-face connection and using the distance as an excuse for their actions. 

But Alex said he would welcome another LDR because he made long-lasting friendships through them. “My longest-at-the-time relationship just recently ended, specifically because it was long-distance,” he said. “I didn’t have enough time to have a relationship and they needed someone to be there, but I wouldn’t give that up because I still got the chance to have that relationship and get to know that person, and I’m still great friends with that person.”

According to Shauna and Taurean Curry, authors of the book “Surviving the Distance: The Do’s, the Don’ts, and the Definitely’s of Surviving a Long Distance Relationship,” the foundation of LDRs are trust and communication. 

“First is definitely trust, and not far behind it is ‘over-communication,’” the Currys said in an email interview. “Since a physical presence is missing in a LDR, talking, texting, video calling, expressing your emotions and thoughts and both being comfortable, being vulnerable is pivotal to successfully maintaining an LDR.”

Although trust is one of the foundations of an LDR, couples may have trouble developing this skill due to the distance. The Currys suggested setting expectations for each other from the relationship’s start and sharing daily schedules to deepen trust between partners. 

The Currys added that honesty is key to maintaining an LDR, and they offered college students the following advice: “We say, first be cautious. Make sure that the person who you are engaging with is actually who they say they are, especially if you are solely meeting them online. But beyond that, we say definitely….Go for it. You are young and don’t have much to lose but everything to gain if it is your true soulmate.”

LDRs were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. People seeing each other on a daily basis had to stay home to slow down the spread. This sudden change was impactful for Jaden Buress, who was in a three-month relationship at the time. 

“Especially with COVID as it is, you know, everything was already changing. And the one person who was there for you and was your rock in a sense not being with you as much as you would have liked them to. It’s really really difficult,” Burress, 18, said. 

During COVID, Burress spent time with her boyfriend by playing iMessage games and watching movies with Netflix Party. She also kept in constant touch on FaceTime for up to nine hours at a time.

Although most students struggle with LDRs, some have seen a benefit. SRJC student Amina Rand-McNeil, 20, recently entered an LDR with her partner who works on the East Coast. 

“It’s not taking up much of my time or thinking, which I’m happy about,” Rand-McNeil said. “I’ve had relationships take up way too much of my time and thinking, and so it’s kind of refreshing to just have someone whose needs I don’t really need to meet all the time.”

Rand-McNeil adds that LDRs can be great, but they require specific traits. “I think if you feel confident in yourself and in the person that you’re doing it with, and you have mutual trust, then I think that’s a great idea, but I definitely think it can be a slippery slope,” she said.

Long-distance dating might be your forte if you enjoy your independence. Not only do you have your own time, but LDRs can also add friendship and experience to your life.

Behren and her partner of two years have worked to overcome hardships and communication issues. Behren advises couples not to stress about situations that could arise but have not actually happened.  

“You just have to be secure in yourself and your relationship,” she said.