For the first two years of college, people frequently asked me if I was dating someone. That question was typically met with a sigh, a shrug and maybe a slight eye roll. “Yes,” I would say, “but we do long-distance.”
Cue the statements of slight shock, oftentimes followed by a, “It’s great you’re trying” before an awkward, brisk walk away. This has happened more times than I can count. After a few years of this reaction, I was more than prepared to receive a response I wasn’t going to like … but then we broke up.
My ex-boyfriend and I split up six months ago after three years of dating. For two of those years, he was one side of the country and I was on the other.
This isn’t to say that long-distance was the only reason we broke up – there were strained familial tensions, a video game habit that he couldn’t really break and I was tired of texting him the same message over and over: “Sorry, can’t talk right now.”
Really, I’m convinced that what killed us was Skype dates, obscenely expensive plane ticket and the undeniable fact that we were growing in different directions, at different speeds and in two completely different locations.
My story, albeit a tad depressing, is not uncommon. According to the Center for Long Distance Relationships, 14 to 15 million couples in the United States consider themselves to be in a long distance relationship, with a third of those couples being college students. According to a 2010 dissertation written by a Humboldt University student about long-distance relationships, the average duration of a long-distance relationship is just shy of three years. I’m glad to know that my relationship was, in fact, average.
I was in a long-distance relationship for two years, but it emotionally felt like 10. And if I’m being honest with myself, my relationship lost its spark about a year into the long-distance part, something I wish I had acknowledged far sooner than I did.
Many of my close college friends will attest to the fact that they have at least attempted a long-distance relationship. When asked about it, their answers are typically accompanied by either a chuckle or an “I still hate him” – both of which I can relate to.
Long-distance in college is wild. We are already juggling school, work, (maybe) going to the gym, making sure we don’t forget to eat and saying that we’re going to try to drink more water. That’s an obscene amount of responsibility to ask of even the most organized person. To then add the pressures of a long-distance relationship mine consisting of sad Skype calls, consistent texting, and sexual frustration is truly mind blowing.
My relationship was a typical high school romance. We started dating our senior year and tried to keep the flame alive for as long as we could. But people change, and college only exacerbates people pulling apart. This is a time when we realize just how big the world is and what we can accomplish in it.
We’re smacked with the realization that the problems we had at 17 couldn’t be more different than the problems we have at 22. College brings internship opportunities, chances to learn and dozens of new people to meet. College changes us. Sometimes that changes our relationships, too, and sometimes, that’s OK.
I recently got coffee with my ex in my hometown, and he asked me what prompted me to break up with him. I didn’t have a solid answer for him.
“I wish you had cheated on me, or I had cheated on you,” I said to his extremely puzzled face. “That way, I would have a reason to be mad.”
But in all honesty, I didn’t want a reason to be mad. I had just come to all these life-altering realizations that college inevitably brings. And while college is part of what contributed to by breakup, it’s also brought me amazing friends, an editorial board I love and, most importantly, the chance to download Bumble.