Dana Ricci discusses her personal woes and successes of others when it comes to long-distance relationships.
Absence makes my heart want to burn your house down.
Well, not really. I just have this thing with long-distance relationships.
I spent the Spring 2011 semester studying abroad in Spain and I learned from my own experiences, as well as those of my Spanish-studying comrades, that Spain is where relationships go to die.
Or maybe it’s just the whole separated-by-an-ocean thing that cuts the throats of most relationships when one-half temporarily flees the country.
Or maybe it’s just any distance at all, be it a 10-hour flight, a 90-minute Megabus journey or a two-hour drive that causes some relationships to be lost at sea.
I can’t help but think back to my freshman year, when about a month into the semester, on any given night, the hallways of my all-female floor in Johnson Hall housed at least one girl having a late-night cryfest on the phone with her now-far-away significant other. Nosy floor-dwellers would begin placing hypothetical bets on whose relationship would stand the test of distance the longest.
In a way, the distance seems to create this two-relationship dynamic–one in the time spent together and one in the time spent apart, waiting to be together again. The time spent together is almost like a constant special occasion. A ‘drop everything because my girlfriend is only in town every third full moon’ kind of relationship.
The time spent apart requires attention and communication that compensates for not actually being in the physical presence of another person. This is the part that kills it for me. I feel at times it’s almost worse to be alone when you have someone who is not around than to be just plain alone.
It works quite well for some people, though. A friend of mine has been dating his girlfriend who goes to school in Boston all three years they have been in college. They alternate visiting each other in Philadelphia or Boston every three weeks.
“It’s taking the relationship and cramming into three days every three weeks,” he said. “It’s fun to kind of have one entire weekend dedicated to a relationship.”
He said each time is like a vacation that they look forward to. Perhaps there is an anticipation in the times between that keep it going and make them the adorably happy couple they are.
“Maybe it’s a hardship for relationships, but it’s a blessing for friendships,” he said, explaining that spending time away from his girlfriend gives him time to spend time with his friends while he is at Temple.
So sure, the distance keeps those times spent together extra special. But what’s a relationship without those days spent playing Sonic and only exchanging grunts about passing the Doritos? Growing together sometimes takes, well, being together.
Of course, I may be one of those anti-distance people because of the fact that I can become angry with people much easier when they are far away (thus bringing me to my house-burning, mailbox-hitting peeved-ness). I have found some people who share this trait with me. I think it can be attributed to a sense of resentment we feel when those we care about aren’t around. They miss things that happen in our lives and have their own fun and happiness that doesn’t involve us. It’s frustrating and easy to take out on them.
And yeah, many long-distance-relationship people might be cranky because they don’t get to have sex whenever they feel like it.
So I won’t dismiss all geographically-challenged love. When I went to Spain, a few of my friends did a fine job of keeping their relationship going while they were away. And didn’t it work for Snooki and JWoww when the cast of the “Jersey Shore” went to Florence?
So if you happen to be embarking on one of these long-distance adventures, try and remember that the time you spend apart is good for your personal development and independence. Maybe it’s the sign of a real and healthy relationship when the two parties can stay together through separation.
However, if you’re struggling with solely Skype dates or someone a bus ride away is trying to control your life and bring you down with their far-away blues, then perhaps its time to seek some local lovin’.
Dana Ricci can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.