OPINION: Long-distance relationships test people, for better and for worse

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Separation only makes the heart grow fonder. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Once upon a time, I met a cute boy in the grass lot next to Bill Snyder Family Stadium. We dated for a few months, but then we made a difficult decision.

We took a leap of faith with fresh feelings and continued to date while I studied abroad for a semester. No Irish lads for me, I said.

Then, he graduated in May 2018 and moved a thousand miles away from Manhattan. The song “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers is a little too relatable.

A year of long-distance love has taught me four lessons about these kinds of relationships.

1. The good struggle

Are you looking for a fast way to know if a love interest is a keeper this Valentine’s Day? Try adding a six-hour time change, and see what happens when the “Goodnight” and “Good morning” texts get muddled together.

Sarcasm aside, distance just requires effort because convenience is taken out of the equation. It differentiates the flings from the real things.

The best advice I have received since being in this type of relationship is to ensure distance has an end. I knew when I would be back in the U.S. and I know when I will graduate. The ability to move to the same place eventually is key for those who want to make it work long term.

2. Talk, talk, talk

Modern technology means there are a million ways to keep up with one another. We may not have survived on snail mail alone, but it has been fun to send a few love letters back and forth.

I learned the most about my boyfriend in the beginning when we would lazily chat about anything and everything over video chat or on the phone. Now that he works full time, our conversations are more routine, but we are intentional with talking about more than a standard response to “How was your day?”

Our families and friends tease us about our chatty habits sometimes, but we have to stay caught up somehow.

All the deliberate time spent sharing ideas and opinions is valuable. That goes for any relationship, but especially for these spent over a distance.

3. Precious time together

When you can be together, every opportunity is significant — and every goodbye plain sucks.

For us, there are only so many weekend trips to recollect. At one point, we did not see each other for four months, so we schemed about how to see one another every day for a week when I arrived back home, bouncing back and forth between family and some time with just us.

One plus is you can splurge a little on a nice dinner or see a local attraction when you’re together because date nights might not happen very often.

I think distance has the potential to build relationships that last. They require creativity and communication, and they also need to involve two committed people, because without trust, they are trash.

4. Values go the distance

Related to being genuine, qualities of honesty and integrity mean a lot over time.

When something is wrong, you have to say so. If you need to get out, get out. If you need to feel more connected, find other small ways to do so.

Sometimes I just want to be silly, so I express it through sending an invite to play an iPhone game and trash talk about it.

I think having depth in a relationship means learning to accept one another in a variety of moods and during various stages of life. Giving genuine support during bad days, weeks or months makes all the difference, and I cannot wait to have my sweetheart applauding me as I walk across the stage in Bramlage Coliseum this May.

If you have found someone special, do not turn away from distance in fear. Lean in and fall apart or grow together.

Sarah Moyer is a senior in agricultural communications. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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