Absence won’t make heart grow fonder

By Megan Ferringer

Whether it sounds cynical and completely defeatist or not, absence does not make the heart grow fonder.

It is not so much pessimistic as it is an unfortunate truth that long-distance relationships just do not work.

Conventional wisdom has instilled in the minds of college-bound high school sweethearts that the effort necessary to sustain a geographically challenged relationship is near-impossible.

And for the sake of everyone’s sanity in such emotionally draining times, it is best to leave any and all excess baggage behind before boarding planes bound for opposite directions.

It was probably a result of being overly hopeful and desperately naive, but come my freshman year of college, I more-than-willingly took my relationship to great lengths—1,310 miles, to be precise.

Within the first week of my freshman year, I found myself sitting in a crammed auditorium, warily taking in the advice of the speaker, Dating Doctor Dave Coleman.

The brutal truth came out, sans the preferable sugar coating: Ninety percent of all long-distance relationships end within the first year.

In addition to the initial grim odds working against me, that percentage was unfortunately exponential by the time my third year of college rolled around, there would be a 2 percent chance my high school sweetheart and I would still be together.

Three years later, Coleman’s advice became something I regretfully failed to consider.

Phone bills were enormous, nights were restless, objects were thrown in frustration and petty arguments were occurring all too often. Amidst the paranoia, jealousy and alternate lifestyles, we were growing apart. And after three years, it came to an end.

It is universally understood that there are five essential elements that make up a healthy and long-lasting relationship: trust, intimacy, respect, passion and commitment. Distance puts each and every one of these fundamentals up in the air and open for attack as the miles spent apart become the greatest threat that any relationship is susceptible to.

Commitment is perhaps the most trying and fleeting element, and without it, trust, respect and intimacy cannot exist. As the weekend greets the overly stressed student, so do parties and outings of mixed company.

Ultimately a lose-lose situation, you can either choose to miss out and spend the evening alone, fearful of appearing uncommitted or decide to engage in normal college activities. If you choose the other route and are in the company of both males and females, your judgment and trust is suddenly open for scrutiny.

Traps litter the ground, and the slightest misstep results in a raging argument. You are forced to tiptoe your way through life, heeding caution to everything presented before you.

Even seemingly innocent acts, such as the failure to answer relentless phone calls, sparks paranoia and distrust and once again, commitment is questioned. Suddenly embracing life and actually enjoying it seems impossible when attached to someone states away.

A vicious cycle is presented, bringing with it unnecessary misery in a time where you are supposed to be enjoying (almost) unbound freedom.

It is impossible to meet each other’s needs from a relationship under the stress of distance. Whoever said absence makes the heart grow fonder was seriously mistaken. The only thing that absence does is push passion aside and replace it with resentment and a steadily growing psychosis.

Get out while you still have your sanity.