There are two kinds of long-distance relationships: hard ones and harder ones.
I’m not going to lie, I get called a pessimist quite frequently. Apparently, my advice on love can be a bit hard to swallow.
To make things perfectly clear: I am not a pessimist. I love love. I love relationships. I love weddings, hand holding and romantic texts. I’m the girl who buys wedding magazines for fun. I’m the girl who stays up all night talking to my friends about their new crushes. I’m the black Katherine Heigl/Jennifer Aniston/Kate Hudson of the non-romcom world (but hopefully without being annoying).
So no, I am not a pessimist. What I am, however, is realistic — and there remains a clear difference between the two. I have lived my life thus far with pretty low expectations, and though some might call that depressing, I call it genius. If you constantly have low expectations, then you’re constantly surprised by how awesome life is.
I received some flak for my first column. It seems readers were dismayed when I told them their high school relationships wouldn’t last a semester in college: “As much as it might pain you, it’s much better to split up with your significant other on good terms now than to see it drag out in the mud later … College is a time of growth and learning, not a time of being chained down by someone you only see on FaceTime.”
I didn’t write this because I was trying to ruin someone’s happiness. I was merely speaking about an isolated situation. Long-distance relationships left over from high school are in a whole other ballgame than those that happen when one is older.
I still adamantly believe you should not go into your first year of college in a long-distance relationship. Even if things are going swimmingly, you and your partner need a few months to grow, to be independent and to live your lives. People change during college, and there’s no way you can stop it.
It’s really that simple. Eighteen-year-olds should not be sacrificing their independence for the sake of a high-school relationship — end of story.
Long-distance relationships beginning in college, however, carry their own set of rules.
Many Trojans will spend their next semester abroad, an opportunity that students should take advantage of if they so desire. A good number of these Trojans are probably leaving behind a loved one. And half of those Trojans are probably debating whether or not to stay together while their partner is halfway across the world, on a different continent.
To that I say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If your relationship is going well and it’s been long enough, then the relationship can probably withstand a few months of being apart from each other. Distance might make you two stronger, because the small trials and tribulations that come along with adult relationships can let you know if this is for real or not.
One USC junior, who wished to remain anonymous, had to sit down with her beau to decide if they wanted to continue, though she’s off to Europe in the spring.
“I’m more sad [about being apart] than nervous,” she said. “We’re staying together, [and] he’s planning a trip to visit me. We got into a relationship knowing that we want it to be long-term.”
Another USC senior, who also wished to remain anonymous, had the same idea. Though she was travelling halfway across the world for half a year, her relationship was valuable enough for her to keep it going.
“We both knew that what we had was worth sticking it out for the [next] six months,” she said. “So we basically decided to stay together but to try an open relationship. In the end, neither one of us acted on the open part — neither of us hooked up with anyone else.”
These two played it smart. By discussing these sort of matters in mature and logistical ways — and without letting your heart mess with your head — you and your loved one can come to a sensible plan.
After freshman year, one has a pretty good idea of who they are, and not much will change into early adulthood. Just think about it: How different were you freshman year as compared to now? That’s why I say freshmen should hold off on attempting to continue a long-distance relationship into college — it’ll stunt their growth.
It might seem like we’ll be with our boyfriends and girlfriends forever when that really is not the case. Sure, there are some couples who will certainly survive the transition and move onto marriage, a three-bedroom colonial and a Labrador Retriever. But let’s be real: The majority of couples from high school are not going to work out in the long run. It’s better just to accept that failure is OK and move on.
I’m not trying to rain on your parade or be a Debbie Downer, I’m just trying to help you see the light. No one wants to be delusional, a la Taylor Swift, but we all have the chance to fall in love — just when the time is right.
So stop the clock from ticking. We should be in no rush. If it feels right, then it feels right, but don’t stop yourself from growing. No amount of Skyping, visiting, phone calls, snail mail or owl delivery will make the distance easier, but if you feel mature enough to carry on, then it’s worth it.
So bon voyage, my friends, and remember that whatever you choose is up to you. You’ll probably be asking many people for some advice, but please listen to your heart. It knows what to do.
Sheridan Watson is a junior majoring in critical studies. Her column “Lovegame” runs Thursdays.