Edit desks ask each editor of The Brown and White to be introspective — to think about things that are important to us and that have shaped us as individuals. As a second semester senior, this is something I have found myself doing often as I reevaluate my priorities prior to entering the next stage in my life and the first stage of my career. While much has changed in the past four years, I would like to take this time and this platform to share something that has not.
I am going to speak on a topic that is often considered taboo — something that is not typically spoken about and frequently discouraged: long-distance relationships.
I entered my freshman year in a long distance relationship and I will be graduating from Lehigh in that same relationship. I can easily say this is my proudest accomplishment of my undergraduate career.
Each semester we venture to separate regions of the country with 700 miles separating my academic home in Pennsylvania from his in Indiana. FaceTimes, calls and texts make the distance seem smaller, but the lack of geographic proximity is not as easily overcome.
Even after preserving a healthy relationship under these circumstances, if asked by another if they should enter a similar long-distance relationship, my honest recommendation would be “no.”
Before I am written off as a hypocrite, I would like to explain why.
Weeks before I left for college in 2018, I informed those close to me that I would remain with my high school boyfriend. Each reaction was uneasy as they begrudgingly smiled and gave their support for my decision. I felt as if something was being left unsaid — as if they did not want to be the one to shatter my naivety and innocence by bringing me back to the reality of the decision I made.
My freshman year? Consider it shattered.
It was the strangest feeling I’ve ever had. We each did not want to see the relationship end, to release the other from our immediate lives. However, at the same time, the misery of months spent apart was often unbearable. I watched as many of my friends, who chose to enter college in a similar relationship, felt the latter overcome them before ultimately parting ways with their partner. I thought this would become my reality as well.
As can be predicted by the introduction, it did not. We made it work — establishing trust, developing a love (a little sappy, I’m sorry) and growing with one another — and have been for several years. But this is not why I have chosen to write my final edit desk on this topic.
My motive is not to brag about my own success or shame others who saw their relationships end, but rather to convey the lesser known side of it.
The term “long-distance relationship” has a strong negative connotation. This is why I am often met with pity when I inform others of my situation and why I choose not to share much about it at all. I am familiar with the negatives and I am sure you, my reader, are able to quickly come up with a few as well.
If there is anything I have learned from my experience, it is the unfortunate notion that love and a healthy relationship are not enough. We were specifically confronted with this a few months ago when we came to the conclusion that the best places for us as individuals, right now, are geographically separate. After graduating this spring, I will be continuing my education in Boston while he will be working in New York City. Our time apart will not be coming to an end.
I can best describe the feeling that overcame me in this moment as a dramatic letdown — the realization that a fully committed, loving and otherwise good relationship could reach an end for logistical reasons. While it has not ended for us, this feeling of impending loss is a familiar one which I would not wish on anyone. It is why I would not recommend others to endure a similar situation.
I am immensely proud of our ability to adapt, to overcome and to commit. But I remain fearful of what it means to be apart, of what it means to realize the storyline conveyed to you by Hollywood and fairytales may not be true.
As a present “success story,” I wish those in similar relationships the best of luck. It can work, just don’t expect a linear path.