Headed to College with an S.O.? Keep the Flame Alive

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Kerri Pinchuk>Senior>Journalism>University of Maryland 

Monogamy. Trust. Com-mit-ment. Look it up. For a majority of students, hook-ups and flings are surely more logical ways to spread the love, but for a few brave freshmen the start of college means the start of a committed, long-distance relationship. Whether your significant other is heading off to a school across the country or still facing another year in the halls of high school, you’re not the first crazy couple to attempt the feat. The question is, can you make it work?

 “The only way a relationship can ever succeed is if both parties have full trust in each other,” says University of Florida senior Lindsey Heller, who has been dating her boyfriend, also a senior, for six years. When graduation sent her boyfriend to Washington, D.C., and Heller to Gainesville, FL, the couple decided to stay together. And, despite friends’ insistence that the arrangement wouldn’t last, it has.

Heller admits that the most challenging thing about maintaining the relationship throughout college is being unable to see each other as often as they’d like. The couple spends time together about once a month.
“There are times when all you want to do is see and spend time with the person you love, and not really being able to is certainly difficult,” she says, adding that temptation should not be an issue if both people are truly committed.
But for many freshmen who start the year attached, staying true to a partner is easier said than done. Sure, senior prom was a magical night that sealed your everlasting love, but what happens when you hit college and that cutie down the hall asks for some 2 a.m. tutoring time?
Indiana University sophomore Jason Emory* blames the party atmosphere of college for the demise of his relationship. When Emory boarded a plane for Bloomington his freshman year, his girlfriend of five months was just beginning her senior year of high school.
“I don’t know if I thought we’d be together forever, but I wanted to try,” he says, adding that his college decision had little to do with his school’s distance from his home of Philadelphia.
Less than a month into the school year, however, Emory found himself “living the dream.” In student speak: going out, getting wasted and hooking up with a different girl every weekend.
“There are so many beautiful girls [at school], and everyone is really about having a good time,” says Emory, who “had no choice” but to break the news to his high school sweetheart via Skype. “She was real upset . . . but we were in different worlds, plus the distance. I didn’t want to hurt her anymore.”
With the lure of these new “opportunities” and an environment more conducive to chaos than chastity, many couples find that going the distance might not be worth the work.
When Florida State University senior Alexandra Cohen left for Tallahassee during the summer before her freshman year, she also left behind her boyfriend, who attended a school near their hometown of Miami. Things started off well with frequent visits and constant communication on the phone and Internet, but as Alexandra grew into her life away from home, it all changed.
“It became so hard having to balance a real college experience with a healthy relationship,” says Cohen, who remembers the countless arguments involving jealousy, disapproval, trust and lack of communication that led to the couple’s downfall.
“Understanding that you and your partner live two separate lives with different friends, events and schedules is a difficult concept to adjust to after sharing one life for such a long time,” she says. Though their commitment didn’t stand the test of freshman year, Cohen says she and her ex remain on good terms and are in close contact. 
“It’s really challenging to make a decision that will please both you and your partner,” Cohen says. “Know that every decision you make is going to affect either your college experience or your relationship.”

Images courtesy of longdistancelover.com and redactedrecipe.com.

*Name has been changed

College Magazine Staff

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