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It's All Relative: Long Distance Lovin'

 by Stephanie Berger
 published on Thursday, March 9, 2006


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Nearly everyone I know claims long-distance relationships can never work.

From high school love affairs that end when you graduate and go off to your separate colleges, to summer flings that only last as long as your study abroad trip or internship, most couples realize that relationships are complicated enough when both parties live in the same place.

My own experience with long-distance relationships is paltry compared to some sob stories I've heard. For me, the Romeo and Juliet-style tragedy occurred when I was 15 years old. I met my star-crossed lover, Chad, at a speech and debate tournament (stop judging me).

Although it was clear that we were meant for each other, our passion was thwarted by the 40-minute distance between our houses and the dilemma of not having driver's licenses or parents who wanted to act as our personal chauffeurs.

Alas, Chad and I parted ways after a few, frustrated phone call-filled months.

However, I am currently engaged in a long-distance relationship that, despite its difficulties, is very rewarding for me.

It's with my best friend, Alana, who goes to U of A.

Now I know what you're thinking -- and I'm sorry to burst your bubble and let you know that Alana and I are merely your run-of-the mill, platonic girlfriends. We met in the seventh grade, and have been inseparable ever since -- even though we are literally separated by a more than a 100-mile stretch of the I-10.

So why is it that people are able to maintain long-distance relationships with friends, but not with significant others?

Granted, my relationship with Alana and other high school friends who don't go to ASU have suffered. In my freshman days of 100-level courses and weekends that were free instead of spent editing this magazine, I spent at least 10 hours a week talking on the phone and AIM with my best friend.

These days, with me being a crazed journalist and Alana being a MCAT-obsessed pre-med student, we hardly make time for Sunday-night chats. While Alana used to drive home nearly every weekend, I'm now lucky to see her two or three times a semester.

Yet, it doesn't seem that our bond has been stressed in the same way that it would have if she were, instead of my friend, a long-distance boyfriend.

Maybe it's easier because we've known each other for so long. We've got more than eight years of history behind us, and have spent enough time complaining about teachers and boys since middle school to last us a lifetime. If I was separated from my boyfriend, however, I would be missing out spending quality time with him during the formative stage of our relationship.

It probably also helps that my friend and I don't make out with each other. Although communication and the emotional side of relationships are obviously strained by distance, it would be ridiculous to pretend that the lack of a physical connection doesn't put a damper on a relationship. I'm not just talking about sex -- not being able to hold your significant other's hand or cuddle while watching a movie takes away one of the biggest joys of being a couple.

Now don't get me wrong -- if you're willing to try to make a long-distance relationship work, then I wish you the best of luck. Maybe you'd even like to share your secrets with SPM by shooting us an e-mail.

In the meantime, don't settle for a long-distance relationship -- either a friendship or romantic one -- that feels one-sided or fake. Because no matter how many times you get poked on Facebook, it doesn't count as real-life human interaction.

Reach the reporter at stephanie.m.berger@asu.edu.



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