College students criss-cross the nation for long-distance-relationships
By Gena Mangiaratti
On the wall above the desk of Ithaca College freshman music education major Erika St. Denis are three different pictures of her and her girlfriend, Gibby, an animal science major at the University of Maryland. They met while both attending high school in Amherst, Mass. One of the photos is of the couple at Gibby’s graduation, another is of the two at Erika’s graduation a year later. The third photo is from prom that same year.
As they both pursue their educations at schools best fitted to their concentrations and career goals, they try to speak on the phone at least once a day.
When Erika, my roommate, talks to Gibby on the phone, her voice falls a bit softer. They talk about their day, telling each other about what’s going well and what’s bothering them.
When Gibby took the nine-hour drive up to Ithaca this Valentine’s Day, arriving at 4 a.m., there was no sign they had ever been apart. They exchanged words effortlessly as they sat close to each other.
Erika and Gibby will have been together for three years this March. Gibby explained that although they have been able to make it work for so long, she doesn’t feel it makes them unique.
“Loads of couples do it,” she said. “They want to make it.”
About 75 percent of college students have been in a long-distance relationship at some point, Gregory Guldner, founder of The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships told Statepress.com. For many college-age couples, a long-distance relationship and the elaborate forms of travel that may go with it is their only option.
During this past Thanksgiving break, Erika flew to Maryland with Gibby’s dad, a one-hour flight, to pick up Gibby from school and then drive all the way back to Massachusetts.
It was the first time Erika had been on a plane. If not for going to see Gibby, she doesn’t think she would have been on a plane yet.
“It was kind of motivational—getting to see her,” Erika said. “It was like, all I have to do is get on this plane.”
Although frequent traveling is not always convenient or possible, IC associate professor of sociology Stephen Sweet points out that long-distance relationships have become more feasible because of recent technology, such as cell phones and the Internet, and that, as in Erika and Gibby’s case, pursuing one’s career path often requires people to settle for these methods of communication.
“The nature of jobs in today’s economy demands that many couples will need to have distance relationships if they are to keep their individual careers intact,” Professor Sweet said.
According to College Student Journal, a survey reported that 40 percent of the respondents did not look favorably on long-distance relationships, agreeing with the adage “out of sight, out of mind.”
However, The Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships has found that couples that are long-distance do not break up more often than couples who see each other regularly. This raises the question: If true compatibility exists, does distance really matter?
“No amount of distance can destroy a real, loving, great relationship,” said Isabel Ablianitis, a freshman at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine.
Albiantis has been in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, Dan, since she left for college in 2009. Dan is a senior where they both attended high school in Agawam, Mass. One weekend a month, Isabel travels home to see her family and friends and uses part of this time to see Dan.
To travel from Maine to western Massachusetts, she uses three forms of transportation. From Saco, Maine, she takes a train to Boston’s North Station from where she takes a subway, or the “T,” to South Station. She then rides a bus to the other side of the state, the whole trip taking about four hours. She does the same in reverse on the way back.
“The first time, I was nervous about being in Boston alone, but I got through it fine,” Isabel said. “And when I asked for directions, the people were great about it.”
In September 2010, Dan will leave for the U.S. Marine Corps Boot Camp in Parris Island, S.C. Then, until he graduates, handwritten letters will be their only form of communication. She plans to either fly or drive down from Maine to South Carolina to see him for the occasion. If she flies, she said she might have to take two planes to keep the cost reasonable. While she’s anxious about the plane ride, she remains optimistic.
“I’m probably going to end up fidgeting in my seat until the plane lands in South Carolina,” she said. “And of course, it will feel like the longest flight of my life… but it should be fun and exciting.”
While a long-distance relationship may not be the ideal situation, when it’s with the right person, it might be worth the plane ride.
Gena Mangiaratti is a freshman journalism major who thinks true love can only be described through ‘80s song lyrics. E-mail her at email@example.com.