Although many people stretch their love over vast distances, few get the Hollywood ending.
It’s finally Friday night. Single college kids are heading to parties to flirt, socialize and make a few bad decisions; those in relationships are grabbing dinner, cuddling on the couch and most likely making their friends sick.
But then there is the exception: those sad souls waiting for a long-distance phone call from their significant other.
With miles between them, couples in long-distance relationships often struggle to make it work. Pile school responsibilities, friends and house parties on top of that, and it is hard to believe a miles-apart yet functional relationship is possible.
“Going the Distance,” the new movie that stars Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, illustrates some of the long-distance lover’s biggest issues: trusting one’s partner not to cheat, going without intimacy, finding time to talk every day and ultimately deciding whether the relationship can succeed.
Barrymore’s character, Erin, had a temporary internship with a newspaper in New York where she met Long’s character, Garrett. After she returns to California, the two try to work through the time-zone difference. Eventually Garrett relocates to the West Coast for a typical fairytale ending.
But most college students must resort to video chatting, text messaging and late-night dialing until graduation.
According to USA Today’s article, “More Young Couples Try Long Distance Relationships,” published Sept. 9, far-away romances are becoming more familiar on college campuses due to the simplicity of traveling and an economy that requires people to move for job offers or to finish school.
The article suggests an important aspect of long-distance relationships: couples who put one another on a pedestal.
It is easy to idealize a relationship when dates are few and far between and arguments are rare. When couples see each other every day, the small things are more important.
During those measly 15 minutes a long-distance couple can sometimes get per day, fights are avoided, and instead, quick updates and a hundred I-love-you’s and I-miss-you-so-much’s are crammed into the limited conversation.
Trust becomes another dilemma. It is bad enough that many college kids spend weekends at least partially under-the-influence, but for those in long-distance relationships, there has to be a solid faith in one another’s commitment.
For those who don’t believe, there are ways to make it work, and some couples come out alive after months of steep cell phone bills and cross-country bus rides.
Support groups do exist for those in long-distance relationships such as LovingFromaDistance.com, which provides inspiration, chat forums and advice.
The site features real love letters from long-distance couples to inspire those going through rough patches in their relationships. It is a perfectly sappy idea for any couple trying to keep their romance going.
There is also an advice page that covers topics from gift ideas to trust issues and texting advice to, my personal favorite, “I caught him in another long distance relationship.”
Maybe these support groups are helpful for some young adults in long-distance relationships, but for couples who attend schools that are miles apart, common sense can come in handy.
First of all, if someone cheated before things went long-distance, it is safe to say that person will cheat again. The whole “Once a cheater, always a cheater,” mantra is pretty universal.
Also, if a long-distance partner is constantly trying to hang up the phone, ignoring text messages or avoiding conversations about a potential get-together, then it is probably time to cut ties. The only thing more difficult than a long-distance relationship is a one-sided long-distance relationship, which is never worth the effort.
The No. 1 thing to remember when diving into the murky ocean of long-distance commitment: Do not let the desire to see one another become a factor in transferring schools or moving away from family and friends.
If the love is genuine, the relationship will withstand the distance for the sake of one another’s responsibilities and long-term success.
Most people in long-distance relationships do not play out the way Barrymore’s and Long’s characters’ does. There’s no cue for romantic background music, and happy endings are not guaranteed.
But there is one guarantee: Respect, love and trust remain the key components for any couple, whether they are dorm rooms apart or separated by a $200 plane ticket.
Cary Carr can be reached at email@example.com.