Everyone experiences a culture shock when they go off to college. For some people it's the weather, for others it's the new city’s slang. For me, it was finding out how many college students are in long-distance relationships.
In my hometown, people break up with their significant others before leaving for college. It’s the norm. Of course, there are some exceptions. You have the couples that end up going to the same college or the ones that go to schools 20 miles apart. As expected, there are couples that break up and get back together — and break up and get back together again. But for the most part, you go to college single. And I have to support this hometown custom of mine.
Go to college single.
College brings its own set of worries and stress. There’s the course load and the extracurriculars. Perhaps you have work-study or maybe you’re a college athlete. Not to mention, you have to consider the whole “making new friends” aspect. Simply adjusting to college can suck up all of your time. It leaves you fried, running on five hours of sleep.
We all know that “communication is key” in any relationship but especially in a romantic one. Catching up can be exciting; you get to tell someone about an entire day or week and they (hopefully) want to listen. It's therapeutic to talk about everything. But it can also feel like an added assignment. Especially during busy weeks, finding the time to keep each other in the loop may create more stress than it relieves.
There’s also the issue of how a long-distance couple communicates. Texting is convenient, but it isn’t always the best way to talk. We have all experienced miscommunication over text. Something gets worded wrong or the tone is misinterpreted and — oops! Looks like a fight is in store. Talking over the phone or FaceTiming can solve this issue due to the (sort of) face-to-face interaction. But there is still a lack of intimacy. You can’t see all of your partner’s non-verbal cues, which can make it more difficult to navigate a conversation.
The distance can also create insecurity in a relationship. Talking about having fun without your significant other can make them start questioning if they’re enough to keep you satisfied with the relationship. They may anxiously wonder, “What if they start thinking I’m boring? Is this how they realize they don’t need me?”
Visiting a long-distance partner at their college could help fix the insecurity issue. It’s an opportunity to spend the weekend together, see a new city, explore a different campus and meet their friends.
But there are two things to take into consideration: time and money. Plane tickets, train tickets and gas aren’t cheap. College already brings myriad expenses, and visiting a significant other frequently will quickly drain a bank account.
And during a visit to a long-distance partner, one person in the relationship is sacrificing time away from their college. This could interfere with their studies, friendships and overall attachment to their own school. Especially during freshman year, most of a student’s time should be spent on campus. It’s the best way to explore resources, participate in clubs and create bonds that could last for the rest of their life.
Maybe it’s selfish of me to believe you should enter your college years alone. But it’s okay to be selfish sometimes, and when you think about it, college is the perfect place to practice this characteristic. This is the time to search for who you are. You have to make big decisions like picking a major, finding a job and figuring out what you want out of life. It’s a time to focus on yourself and your future.
This is possibly your first time being able to pick what you want to do and how you want to spend your time. Make the most of it. Life won't always give you this opportunity.
I’m not claiming that your long-distance relationship won’t last. In fact, within the first three months, long-distance relationships are no more likely to end than geographically close relationships.
So, by all means, stay with your significant other, love them and forget about everything I said. One of my friends had his long-distance girlfriend visit this past month, and they looked so happy together. They talk on the phone every day and he still manages to have the complete college experience. It’s impressive, heartwarming and makes me think maybe long-distance couples can survive college.
But don’t feel pressured to stay just to prove me wrong, especially when it isn’t working. Not everything is made to last. If your long-distance relationship feels more like a burden than a blessing, maybe you should reconsider.
Emilia Gonzalez is a freshman from Ardmore, Pa. majoring in Writing Seminars and English.