Sex & Relationships Column

Lindsay Montgomery

Distance may make the heart grow fonder
But it can break it into pieces, too

College is uniquely suited to provide opportunities for meeting new people. With roughly 16,000 students at UNF, there’s potential in every classroom and on every walkway for budding romances.

But those opportunities comes at a cost — quick turnover.

What happens when you meet the man of your dreams two weeks before he graduates? How does your perfect relationship survive if you transfer across the state?

Most people don’t choose long-distance relationships. They stumble head-over-heels into them, unwittingly, because of outlying circumstances.

When dealing with distance, it’s most important to know whether you and your mate can handle it, and how to survive if you have committed.

Three and a half days. After a month apart, I saw my boyfriend over Veterans Day weekend. While we sat in his room one night, my boyfriend casually, comfortably rested his hand on my leg.

When he shifted to a different position, it left that space on my thigh suddenly cold. Long-distance relationships behave similarly. When your other is there, everything falls into place naturally, with almost unnoticeable ease. But the chill of his or her absence always comes too sharply, too quickly, no matter how aware you are of its imminence.

Don’t pursue a long-distance relationship unless you’re positive it’s worth it. While every situation is different, there are several standard rules to follow when making that decision.

You and your girlfriend must be equally committed. Singlehandedly providing your relationship’s foundation and structural support is difficult enough when your boyfriend lives down the street. If she hasn’t gotten her act together while you’re near one another, don’t pack those moving boxes with memories of her. Be glad that distance gave you a good excuse to end a floundering relationship and move on.

You have to communicate well. I don’t like talking on the phone, but I have for hours with my boyfriend. He knows about parts of my life nobody else does, which brings us closer despite the distance. If your relationship relies heavily on physical contact, beware. You or your girlfriend might be tempted to stray — ending a relationship seemingly too soon is better than letting someone else rip it apart.

You have to want this relationship long-term. A fling isn’t worth the money you’re about to spend on transportation alone. If your romance has already suffered scuffs and bruises, keep in mind that your partner won’t be around to help you heal. Long-distance means high stress — you’re going to be upset that your other can’t be there when you need her. At those times, you need a stable relationship to fall back on.

If you’d rather have your boyfriend far away than not at all, don’t despair. Long-distance relationships are challenging, not impossible.

The best part about modern-day relationships is technology. Texting and talking on the phone will come easily, but don’t stop there. Write each other emails — about anything — then go the extra step and attach some photos.

Skype (iChat, or Google video) is an obvious lifesaver, but my boyfriend and I didn’t get into it until recently. Calling seemed more convenient, especially when stealing away from bars or parties. Once you get into it, though, you’ll have trouble getting out. Seeing your partner in motion is surprisingly comforting. Especially when he’s naked.

Focus on the not-so-distant time you spend together. Even if you can’t see each other for weeks or months, planning ahead will give you something to look forward to — and, with airfare, it’s a must.

Always be on the lookout for deals, and buy those tickets early. My boyfriend and I split every plane ticket to ensure that neither of us is spending more than the other. If driving is your only option, consider meeting in a town halfway to your boyfriend. Who cares if you end up in the middle of nowhere if you’re together?

When you are with your girlfriend, relax. Try your best to forget that you’ll yet again have to separate. Your time together shouldn’t be crammed with plans, either. Be lazy and lay around. Go out for dinner and enjoy sleeping in the same bed. Trying to introduce him to every single one of your new friends while hitting all of your new favorite bars and going to those parties after that concert … whoa.

It may be tempting to drag your partner to everything you wish she could be around for, but you’ll wear yourselves out.

Don’t worry — in a truly healthy relationship, time apart won’t make one-on-one moments seem strained. And after hours of talking, texting, writing and video chatting, you’ll appreciate the simple, comfortable silences.

Not everyone can manage a long-distance relationship. Don’t force it. But when everything about your other is right, aside from his location, go for it — and let yourself dream about when you will wake up next to each another, every day.