Art by Stella Engel
Being in a long–distance relationship is nothing short of an endeavor, but it is even more daunting when entering college — a time of fresh experiences, new people and self discovery. Barring personal success, long distance dating is generally considered to be an almost impossible feat.
On average, long-distance relationships last 2.9 years, much shorter than proximate relationships — which typically last about 7.3 years, according to a study conducted at Humboldt University. Yet, upon arriving at Pepperdine, one of my most surprising discoveries was the large number of students in long-distance relationships.
It is challenging for many people to feel secure in their relationships while their partner is attending another school. This is likely because students are surrounded by hookup culture, drinking and plenty of single people — something we are conditioned to expect, according to Time Magazine. I felt all of those fears last fall, when my high school relationship became long-distance for the first time.
In my experience, it can be easy — especially in the beginning — to isolate yourself in an attempt to be continuously available to your significant other. This can lead to unintentionally limiting social opportunities and feeling disconnected from your peers.
To be clear, I do not think every experience has to be that way. I learned my life needs to be fulfilling outside of my relationship — which can include going to parties, joining clubs that interest me and spending time with my roommates.
I understand, however, that your time to do all of these things is likely less than other students’. This is something I believe most people in a long-distance relationship contend with.
Despite these obstacles, I feel immense comfort in having friends who are going through a similar situation. It can be challenging to navigate how to maintain a relationship over distance for the first time while also adjusting to being in a new place like college.
I subconsciously gravitated toward the people who could offer advice. I valued their suggestions and also appreciated their lack of scrutiny. It is difficult for me to imagine how discouraged I would feel if I did not know any other people who were attempting the same feat.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, cannot relate to this experience. At his school, he is the only one of his friends in a long-distance relationship. He has shared with me it can feel discouraging and lonesome to have no one to relate to.
Not everyone understands why my boyfriend sometimes chooses to forgo social events in order to have time with me — but it is because he has to consider my schedule, in addition to his own. Hearing this perspective makes me especially grateful for the opportunity to connect with other Pepperdine students who share my experience.
To anyone going through the transition to a long-distance relationship or who is about to embark on this experience, here is my advice for you: seek out other individuals who understand why you chose to do this. I promise you there are more of us on campus than you think. Finding a common interest is a great way to make friends, and having people who understand the unique challenges of long-distance dating will bring much more comfort than you might expect.
Long-distance dating is complicated, and I would never want to give someone false expectations about it. In my eyes, however, it is achievable. The best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship is to lead a fulfilling life at school and build your own community as an individual. It just so happens to be that Pepperdine is a school where that camaraderie is possible.
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Contact Fiona Creadon by email: firstname.lastname@example.org