Goin’ the distance

Nina Kim

A friend of mine has to fly nearly 4,000 miles to get laid. Me? About 2,000. Yes, believe it or not, we’re a part of Northwestern’s dying breed of long-distance, exclusive relationships.

Roughly 75 percent of undergrads are from out of state. Combine that with study abroad, Journalism Residency, co-ops and general internships, and you find that the average Northwestern student moves around quite a bit. Is there room for romance? Sure. But can it last long distance? I say, “Why not?”

Now, before you go ahead and scoff at me, I want you to realize that part of the problem is just that. Whenever I mention I’m in a long distance relationship, people look at me with pained “I don’t have the heart to say it” eyes. But then again, some people do have the heart to say it. Apparently, the writing on the wall is clear as day: long-distance relationships don’t last.

“A friend of mine was dating this guy long-distance for a year and she found out he was cheating on her the entire time,” they say. Well, duh, if people can’t keep it in their pants, the relationship was doomed to fail from the start, long-distance or not.

As any person in a long-distance relationship will tell you, the generalizations and pessimism get annoying. So stop. I’m not so-and-so. I don’t care what you’ve heard.

But successful long-distance relationships are not for the faint of heart. Both people in the relationship must be fully committed and emotionally mature, and there must be an impenetrable foundation of trust. If you’re uncertain about it during the days leading up to the departure from your partner, it’s just going to get harder when you’re far apart.

The key to maintaining a long-distance relationship is a sense of purpose. Ask yourself, “Why should we stay together?” If you both want to end up in Chicago after college, the possibility of living in the same city gives you something to look forward to and work towards.

But it doesn’t even have to be so literal. If you’re both convinced that you’ve got something special, call me a hopeless romantic, but don’t be so quick to let it go. You have to be honest with yourself, though – no one should beat a dead horse.

It gets lonely at times, but it also helps you maintain your sense of individuality, while making you appreciate the time spent with your partner so much more.

Oh, and the sex? Well, think of what kinds of things you’d do if you saw your partner for the first time in two months. As Leslie Karsner, the self-proclaimed “Romance Coach” puts it: “Long distance relationships encourage couples to become better communicators and as a result enjoy more intimate lovemaking.”

Communication is indeed crucial. From cell phones and text messages to e-mails and Skype, find some way to communicate everyday. A few friends I know keep the fire going with phone sex and Skype-apades. I get totally creeped out by the thought, but perhaps I’ll address that in another column.

Medill senior Nina Kim is a PLAY sex columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]