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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Some couples can be seen walking to class, sharing good news and making plans for the weekend, while others can be seen rushing home from class to the telephone, hoping to reach their significant other and catch up on each other’s lives. Students involved in long-distance relationships may not always get to make weekend plans like other couples, but they can still enjoy the same benefits of a romantic relationship if they are willing to work at it.
Diana Song, a sophomore business major at the University of Texas-Austin, met her boyfriend at college last year and found the long-distance summer to be too trying on their relationship.
“Long-distance breaks during a stable relationship can be healthy, but are dangerous for couples who are insecure about their commitment to each other,” Song said. “They cannot work unless the couple has been together long enough to establish a strong foundation for their relationship.”
Other than the obvious down sides of not getting to see each other often, long distance relationships also can become very expensive. Students often rack up thousands of cell phone minutes each month trying to maintain closeness while miles apart from their significant other.
Jennifer Childe, a sophomore economics major, said that enduring a “phone-calls-only” relationship for months at a time can become trying on the relationship.
“The hardest part is living through the telephone,” Childe said.
Another downside to having a long-distance relationship is that since couples cannot always be together, they can more easily fall victim to temptation.
Robby Williamson, a sophomore fire science major at Blinn College, has been maintaining a successful long-distance relationship with his girlfriend for four years. Though initially worried that the distance issue might tear them apart, he said he feels he has learned from their experiences.
“A long-distance relationship is a test of will,” Williamson said. “If you aren’t 100 percent into the person you are going out with, then you will start looking around and realizing that there are a lot of other cool people out there.”
While long-distance relationships may require stronger levels of compromise, communication and trust than other relationships, there can be significant rewards for learning to utilize those important relationship tools. Many couples who have been separated by distance have grown to appreciate each other more than when they had been dating in the same city.
“It is so easy to take advantage of your boyfriend when he is only a phone call away,” said Natalie McCoy, a junior education major. “But being away from each other can make you realize how much happier you are when they are around, and it makes you remember how much you like each other and why you got together in the first place.”
Since they must wait so long to see each other, couples in long-distance relationships may tend to value the time they spend together more than couples in regular relationships. When couples in long distance relationships finally get to see each other, all the waiting and excitement culminates in one passion-filled weekend that can put other couples’ “nights out at the movies” to shame.
“When you do see each other, the moment you set eyes on the other person is indescribable,” Childe said. “You don’t want to spend a second away from them as long as you get to see them. The chemistry is tremendous.”
Another advantage of having a long-distance relationship is that each member of the couple gets to have more time for himself. College is a time of change and it is important to establish individual identities separate from the relationship shared as a couple. This extra alone time can also provide insight as to how successful the relationship actually is.
While distance can provide added appreciation, respect and attraction to one another, does absence really make the heart grow fonder?
Freshman business major Caleb Pagan, whose girlfriend attends A&M, disagrees. “I think absence can make the heart grow fonder to a certain extent, but too much absence can make the heart forget,” Pagan said.
Long-distance relationships require much dedication and work from both parties in the relationship. Important keys to maintaining a successful long-distance relationship are: having effective communication, trusting the other person, knowing each other’s expectations of the relationship, maintaining a healthy balance of independence and dependence, respecting each other’s boundaries, demonstrating strong and equal levels of commitment to each other and remaining sensitive to the other person’s needs.
Another way to minimize the hassle of a long-distance relationship is to use all forms of correspondence. Instead of relying solely on the telephone, couples can make an effort to write letters, send emails and visit each other. This can help make the relationship less expensive and more personal.
While distance may not always make the heart grow fonder, it can help couples learn to appreciate each other and help them discover if they are truly willing to work at maintaining their happiness together.

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