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Post Column: Shifting Tides: Long-distance dating can be difficult to navigate

There’s this girl I know who drives to Columbus every weekend to see her boyfriend. Funny, you go to college with the expectation that weekends will become your time to live the memories you’ll be thinking of in the future. The people you meet, the parties you’ll go to — all part of the giant repertoire of things you’re looking for while venturing from home.

Where does that leave her? A girl, building memories to her own liking in order to avoid the dreary label of “long-distance.” The end all to all endings, the reason so many alter their life planning when the realization of parting from your love looms overhead. When you’re with the best person for you, should that overshadow the need to experience the prime socializing time of college? I’ve spent nights in panic over the fact that my girlfriend resides hundreds of miles down the coast, feeling as if the next time I’ll be with her is sometime in the next century. It’s a lonely, isolated feeling that comes with envisioning our lives going on separately, yet it wasn’t that long ago when I was answering “Come with us to the beach on Saturday” with “I’ll have to find out what we’re doing.”

We wrote together a new definition. Waking up to her breath on my skin, doing useless daily errands and making timeless cinemas during our time together. There were no problems, just a relationship that two people gave their lives to. Today we talk through computers and cellphones, possibly the coldest way of communication for something that should feel so warm and personal. Our time together will always have a time stamp, and these are only a few items off the litany of irritants that come along with you and your long distance label.

My communications professor was talking about long-distance relationships the other day and I thought “Finally! Someone that has a degree in the dynamics of communication between two people will give me an answer to this exhausting process.”

“Three things will make a long-distance relationship work,” she told us. “There has to be consistent communication during time apart, some sort of commitment to be together when the long-distance part is complete and there has to be an end date to the long-distance aspect of your relationship.” Isn’t it that every time we get an answer for the question we’ve lost sleep over, we just end up with 100 more inquiries?

A freshman going to school hundreds of miles from home, a home that’s full of heavy UV rays, saltwater and the relationship everyone yearns for, and now I’m off living a life full of missing what I had, yet heavily enjoying this fresh change in my youth. The people, the weekends, the campus, simply watching myself grow as a person — it’s a replica of what I anticipated to get out of college. I have it all, yet simultaneously feel as if I have nothing. Long distance doesn’t get easier, just longer. And to make it work I think you have to decide which one is more valuable to yourself: the relationship, or whatever it is that transformed the relationship into long distance.

It’s not black and white. I’m infinitely different from the stranger sitting next to me, yet they could be battling the strains of a long-distance relationship too. What would they say is the key to making it work? I don’t think it’s the amount of time you spend talking to each other or whatever end date you decide to attach to it, just measure the amount of love that’s present and you’ll find yourself abundant with answers.

Garrett Lemery is a freshman comminucations student at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. What do you think makes a long-distance relationship work? Email Garrett at gl496111@ohiou.edu.

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