Dear College Freshmen
To break up or to do long distance--that is the question.
By Sara Utsugi
Once again, hello college freshmen! Right now, as I’m sure you’ve come to realize, is a time of change. One of the biggest changes approaching is the fact that you’re probably going to be moving away from your friends, family and significant other. Now, this poses the challenge of:
To break up or to do long distance--that is the question.
To be frank, I’ll let you know that I am not a proponent of LDRs. A lot of people think that breaking up before college is selfish, regardless of the reasoning, but personally, I don’t think it’s selfish at all. When we’re 18, it’s fair to not be sure about who we’re with or who we are. Even if you do think it’s selfish, maybe now is the time to be a little selfish. College is this amazing beginning--a fresh start. Do you remember yourself when you were a freshman in high school? Think about how much you’ve changed and grown since then. It’s going to be the same deal with college but on a greater scale. You and your partner are both going to experience tremendous amounts of growth and maturation in the next four years. For me, having a boyfriend from high school stunted my growth. I wanted to hold on to what we had in high school, and that prevented me from branching out. This is why I believe that breaking up before college is the least selfish thing you can do. Not only are you allowing yourself to grow freely, but you’re allowing your partner to do likewise. Breaking up means putting growth before your heartbreak, and I think that’s really brave.
The summer before college, my boyfriend at the time and I had decided that we were going to break up when I left for school. We agreed that we’d both rather not do long distance and wanted to end things on a good note in hopes of remaining friends and possibly getting back together in the future. At first, I couldn’t understand why my boyfriend didn’t love me enough to do long distance, and I jealously watched my friends research and prepare for their LDRs. We went through the entire summer planning on breaking up, but when the day came, we couldn’t do it. It took about 10 hours of us apart to get back together, and thus began my first long distance relationship. Although I had been jealous of my friends who planned to go into a LDR, it was because I didn’t realize what being in a LDR entailed. I hadn’t expected to be in a long distance relationship, so I went into it unprepared and naive to the fact that long distance was going to be really difficult. You know all those perks of being in a relationship like always having someone to hangout with, taking cute couple photos, holding hands in public, borrowing a jacket when you’re cold, kissing to make up after a fight, falling asleep together, etc…? Well, you don’t get to do any of those things in a LDR. The only real “perk” of long distance is that you get stay in a relationship.
I know that breakups are the absolute worst thing ever, so many will say, “Let’s just try it. What’s the worst that can happen?” Well unfortunately, statistics say that most long distance couples end up breaking up anyway. Four years is a long time to do long distance. While some adult couples are able to make it work, they have the means to travel and see each other. However, even if you have money to fly or a car to drive, in college you’ll want to explore your own campus and spend time on the weekends with your new friends. You’ll be missing out if you decide to visit your S.O. every weekend. You and your boyfriend or girlfriend will be living in different cities, states or even countries, so naturally you’ll be living different lives. You’ll make your own friends and have your own routines. So while you may find time for each other at first, the more invested you become in your school and college experience, the more difficult it will become to find time for each other.
One of the main reasons I don’t recommend long distance coming out of high school is because in college you’ll be surrounded by an entire new pool of people. Think about it. You’ve probably met a few thousand people in your lifetime. If you’re going away to California, there are well over 35 million people you haven’t met. And if you plan on going abroad (say, in France for example), add another 66 million to the list of people you still haven’t met. High school relationships are great, but they’re formed when we still don’t know what’s out there. Honestly, I was a little curious. It’s not that I wasn’t happy in my relationship. I just knew that there were millions of other people in the world, and I wondered if that was where my soulmate was. And even if you and I don’t meet “the one” in college, what are the chances that we already met them in high school?
The reasons for breaking up before college go on and on. But I think the biggest reason is that being single in college is AMAZING. I got to do college both in and out of a relationship, so I can tell you from experience that it’s so much for rewarding to go through college single. In college you’ll go on spontaneous weekend road trips, hit up fast food restaurants at midnight, and stay out late watching the stars just because. While you could still do these things in a relationship, chances are you would do them with your S.O. and not with your friends. The truth is, your college friends are going to be your forever friends, and boyfriends and girlfriends come and go. Now should be your time to develop deeply rooted friendships. It should be your time to focus on yourself and better yourself as a beautiful individual.
Long distance turned me into someone I didn’t recognize. When I was in a LDR my freshman year, I constantly missed and worried about my boyfriend. I would text him during class instead of take notes, and whenever I was walking between classes, I’d check my phone to see if he texted me rather than talk to classmates and friends. When we fought, I’d stay up late (sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning) until we made up even if I had an 8am class the next morning. I started partying because I didn’t like staying in while I knew he was out, and I was constantly jealous of couples I saw. I always listened to sad music, and I went to sleep lonely and down more often than not. I was needy. I was distant from friends, and I relied heavily on my ex. I was unhappy and not myself.
That summer before college, my ex and I already knew that long distance wasn’t for us, but we tried it anyway because breakups suck and “What’s the worst that could happen?” For me, I never expected that things could be or end as badly as they did, and in the end we broke up anyway. When I think about our breakup, it makes me wish we’d left things on good terms that summer before I went away. Although I learned a lot from doing long distance, I think it’s a lesson that’s okay to skip. I hope that you take time to seriously evaluate whether or not long distance is for you, and to stick to your gut when you find your answer. As always, I wish you the best and am rooting for you from behind the screen.
P.S. While long distance didn’t work out for me, I want to acknowledge that there are success stories when it comes to long distance. If you’re hard set in doing long distance, I want you to have the tools and knowledge to be successful. A few of my friends from high school are still with their high school sweethearts, so in the weeks to come, look out for an article with my friends’ tips on how to make it work.