Going the Distance

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Most will admit that relationships can have their difficulties even at the best of times. Yet when the added factor of geographical distance is incorporated, this can seem a train ride too far for many. University is all about change and although exciting in terms of a new place to live and new relationships to be forged, these two factors can also lead to the breakdown of many a young love.

Image: Valentina Signorelli

From Ed Sheeran’s song U.N.I  to Carli and Simon’s frankly painful situation in last year’s Inbetweeners movie, the decision on whether to embark on a long distance relationship seems to be increasingly at the forefront of student life. But can they work and are they a healthy choice for the average student at this particular time in their life?

With the simple utterance of the words ‘long distance relationship’ comes a certain stigma, usually epitomised in the question ‘how can you be together properly when you hardly see one another?’  Indeed for some couples University is simply too much of a strain to bear. With public travel fares increasing by an average of 5.9 percent in 2012, busy workloads throughout the year and a lack of comprehension of the other’s daily escapades (can you really convey a Jesters night to someone who hasn’t been?), they hardly seem practical. Yet whilst practicality rarely finds a voice in matters of the heart, even on the emotional front, LDR’s are lacking. Despite great developments in technology, a phone call or even a video chat using Skype does little to ease the void of physical contact left by distance and most couples cling to the date in which they can see each other in the flesh.

When meeting up with your partner is a moment led up to for days or even weeks, there is an added excitement and even a feeling of falling in love all over again

Yet despite the obstacles, long distance relationships are not uncommon. The Centre for the Study of Long Distance Relationships headed by Dr Gregory Guldner, found that up to 40 percent of all romantic relationships amongst American University students are in some way long distance.  Although equivalent figures in the UK do not exist, the increase in University attendance over the years and swift advancements in technology support an alignment to this statistical rise. It would appear that more and more students are going the distance and indeed finding a particular positive in doing so.

When meeting up with your partner is a moment led up to for days or even weeks, there is an added excitement and even a feeling of falling in love all over again: I think we’re all familiar with the phrase, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder.’ Although it’s comforting to have that special person around all the time, it’s also great to have some space and use it to improve your relationship. Being in an LDR also grants you access to the (non-sexual) pros of being single. You have unlimited time for your friends and University work and are able to forge an identity that is completely your own at University, independent of another, who in other aspects may be central .

Chances are that even if you enjoy a relationship at University, with each holiday comes the dreaded long distance spell. But it is making it through these periods which really reveal the secrets of a strong relationship: yes it is hard, but is it worth it?

Long distance is not for everyone, but then again neither is a relationship which dominates your University experience. Ultimately it is down to you as an individual, whether you are willing to go the extra mile (forgive the pun) and work harder for a relationship which is not on your doorstep or whether having someone in your life, means just that, having them permanently in your life. Whatever your opinion, it would appear long distance relationships are gradually shedding their condemned status, serving as a testament to commitment rather than an end to it.

Image: Nicola Manuel

 

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