Jack & Jill: Long Distance Relationships; Can We Make it Work?

Jack:

I don’t think I could ever be in a long-distance relationship.

This is not to say I don’t believe in college relationships. I really do. I think there is a time for wild Animal House-style partying and promiscuity, and a time when you have to realize that those parties are specifically designed for freshmen and sophomores and, you know, grow up.

I think every college student should have at least one romantic relationship in college, if not for the experience of juggling a potential career with one later in life.

Love can be a beautiful thing, just not when you’re a few time zones away and she looks more like a cell phone or computer screen than a person.

God bless those couples who put that much effort into trying to make their long-distance relationships work out, but with so many other things on my plate in college, I shouldn’t have to juggle one more unnecessary stressor in my life.

Say I’m going to school here in New York and she’s out in California. Not only would I have to make time in my day to call her, I also have to take into account the difference in time zones.  She could get out of class at 6:30 p.m. and call me while I’m in the heat of studying for a midterm, or, God forbid she wait longer to call me, she could catch me when I’m about to go to sleep.

Plus, if I were to fly out to see her every other weekend or so, that flight money adds up pretty quick, putting even more pressure on me to take extra work shifts and earn as much from that minimum-wage job as I can.

But the problems of a long-distance relationship go even further beyond the logistical issues. I’d want to be able to celebrate my successes in college with her, and I’d want to do the same for her. If we’re Skyping our accomplishments back and forth to each other, we run the risk of turning our achievements into a competition.

The physical nature of the relationship doesn’t end there, either. I’m not going to beat around the bush. Part of having a great relationship is having a great physical connection—a great sex life. It’s not everything, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t important. You can’t have that kind of connection if you’re in one state and she’s in another, no matter how great the conversation may be.

Unfortunately, the lack of a physical relationship is also, in my mind, it’s greatest killer. Most times, if guys can’t have a physical relationship with a girlfriend — such as in a long-distance relationship — they’re going to pursue one with someone else. As much as I’d like to think I wouldn’t do something like that, and no matter how different I think I am from most guys, I live by the philosophy that anyone is capable of doing anything under any circumstance. If my best friend can cheat, it’s not above me to at least consider doing it.

That’s not fair to her, and it’s not fair to me. I may be a guy, but I’m not stupid. There are plenty of girls on my campus I can get to know. Trying to maintain a relationship with someone elsewhere just seems like a waste of time and a lot of heartache.

 

Jill:

Relationships are hard. They’re tough to maintain, and require energy and commitment to sustain. They’re hard when you’re in middle school and you only see one another in math class and lunch. They’re hard in high school when your curfew is 11 p.m. They’re hard in college, when you both have classes, meetings, and parties to attend.

And, of course, they’re hard when you’re in different cities the majority of the time. Long distance relationships, like all relationships, are hard – but by no means impossible.

It’s 2011. We Facebook, we tweet, we tumbl. We make more personal connections with people on the Internet than we do face-to-face. Even when the person you’re tweeting at is a few blocks, a few rooms, or a few steps away, you communicate effectively using these tools. Why should connecting with your significant other be any different?

Thanks to the shiny new 4G bubble we live in, we’re never more than a few clicks away from each other.

If we’ve agreed to maintain a long-distance relationship, obviously our commitment is a serious one. What sense is there in throwing that away just because it’s inconvenient?

I’m not sure I believe in the concept of “the one,” but if you’re someone I’m serious about and considering spending my life with, then the potential success of our relationship is too important to give up.

We may only be a few hours away by car, or maybe we have to hop on a plane to see one another. Yes, this is a challenge, but every cloud has a silver lining. We’ll be too excited about planning our next trip to fight over silly things.

And when we are physically together, we’ll appreciate the time we have with each other so much more. We’ll make the most of every second, and we’ll almost assuredly have a great time.

The biggest challenge we face will likely be the lack of physical intimacy. This is definitely a hurdle, but it’s not insurmountable. A relationship of this caliber of seriousness isn’t about sex. Obviously we have a strong emotional and intellectual connection, and that’s something worth forgoing regular sex for.

Here’s the catch: If we’re going to do this right, we’ve got to build this relationship on a solid foundation of trust. Jealousy is a death sentence for long-distance love.

I’m not naïve. There are women wherever you are, and odds are you’ll find some of them attractive. I can accept this, for the same reason I don’t make a fuss when you check out the occasional butt as we walk down the street. (Yes, I do notice. Every time. You’re not as sneaky as you think you are.) It’s just not a big deal. I notice when men are attractive, but that doesn’t mean I ever entertain the idea of doing anything about it. I assume you feel the same, and I need to be able to trust that my assumption is correct.

Inspiring that trust will require effort from both sides, but there are a lot of little things we can do to keep the trust between us unscathed.

Every quick text we shoot each other during the day, every sweet email, every wall post will make me feel like I’m one of the most important things in your life.

Relationships are hard, but that old adage holds true. Distance makes the heart grow fonder.