I’ve had a lot of long-distance relationships. Of my four significant relationships, all have been distant in some way.
The reasons for these arrangements vary. Unexpected moving plans, long-term overseas study trips, and two-hour commutes to spend just three days together have all uprooted and altered these relationships.
In a strange phase of your life, in your early twenties, the decision to pursue a long-distance relationship is strange. For some people, they’re ready to start thinking about a long-term partner, whatever that might mean to people. For others, this thought is unfathomable in the near future.
I know that I am not alone in this challenge and I find comfort in it.
Veronica Casarez, a senior at Loyola Marymount University, has been in a long-distance relationship since May 2021.
“If you think it’s worth it, it’s probably worth it,” Casarez said. “If you have the idea that maybe there’s an endpoint or an endgame with this, run with it. And if they prove that point, then great. But also if you’re young, you’re young, you have time to find someone else if that’s really the problem you’re having.
Casarez has been with her boyfriend for over a year and a half. At the start of their relationship, they both lived in their hometown. When their classes returned in person, however, they went from three miles to 3,000.
“We might have exchanged a few sentences about ‘should we break up,’ but we ended up being too emotionally attached to each other to want to break up,” Casarez said.
Eventually, when the question of moving arose, the two decided to try long distance as a result of their situation.
In long-distance relationships, it can be difficult to find the time to prioritize quality time with your partner. For some couples, one solution is to schedule virtual “date nights” to mimic the time they might have spent together in person.
Casarez and her partner have dates on Friday nights where they can FaceTime and watch movies together. They often watch Netflix and Disney Plus, ranging from Marvel movies and “Star Wars” to “You,” a Netflix show featuring Pen Badgley from “Gossip Girl.”
Casarez said that even if they miss a date for whatever reason, they try to reschedule in order to prioritize their time together.
“It can really give you that quality time with someone who is so far away because you can feel close to them for those one or two hours,” Casarez said.
Tim Cole, a professor of communication at DePaul, said it’s important to set clear expectations for contact in long-distance relationships.
“It’s really important not to get too attached and always have heavy conversations, but it’s really important to have that little talk, that little daily talk,” Cole said.
Even with available technologies like FaceTime, it’s hard to make meaningful connections when you’re not physically with your partner.
“Having loving communication is essential for your emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being,” Cole said. “And that’s hard to do via technology even though you can FaceTime you don’t really get the same benefits as being co-present.”
Cole says being physically present is important for relationships because it helps you feel connected to each other, which is hard to achieve even with the technologies available to nurture relationships.
Sam Cruz, also a senior at Loyola Marymount University, has been with his current partner for over two years. The two are about two hours apart, but that distance has fluctuated throughout the pandemic as they have moved between school and their hometown.
During the pandemic however, Cruz was able to visit his partner and family and said it has allowed her to be closer to him and to bond with his family as well.
“What made this different from any other relationship I’ve had is that those kinds of emotions wouldn’t be brought up or swept under the rug,” Cruz said.
Cruz said it was important to make sure they both felt like they were an active presence in each other’s lives.
“Family is really important to me, so I feel like we’re making sure we’re both doing our part to be part of each other’s lives and part of each other’s family, I think it’s really done with the long distance it’s been,” Cruz added.
In my own relationships, setting clear expectations has always been important. Especially when work schedules or time differences don’t line up, making time to check in throughout the day and prioritizing virtual date nights has allowed me to prioritize promoting the type of connection which is essential for a long distance relationship.
Now, thinking about potential moving plans as I get closer to my graduation date, it’s been helpful to remember that I was able to make these situations work through open communication and transparency. .
Cruz gave advice to people considering a long-distance relationship.
“If you’re both very clear about what you want and how you can both work together to cross long distances, then I think things should always be fine and things should work out for the better,” Cruz said.