Story by Tom Scearce
When first-year broadcast news major Ned Leebrick-Stryker met his girlfriend at the beginning of last semester, he dreaded the arrival of spring semester.
His girlfriend, sophomore public relations and magazines double major Courtney Fishman, is studying abroad.
Leebrick-Stryker joins the roughly 25 to 50 percent of college students nationwide who are in a long-distance relationship.
Along with college-aged students, the study, which was published in the Journal of Communication and in an article in “The Huffington Post,” showed that three million married couples are living apart and that 75 percent of college students admitted to participating in a long-distance relationship at some point.
The study showed that while couples in those relationships do communicate less often than couples who aren’t, those times they do communicate are longer and more meaningful.
Leebrick-Stryker says that he Skypes with his girlfriend at least two times a week for about an hour on average.
“Long-distance relationships are tough, but I feel the saying, ‘Distance makes the heart grow stronger,’ is true,” Leebrick-Stryker said. “I feel that couples in these relationships try a lot harder to talk, and it really pays off.”
First-year writing major Nik Wasik has been in his relationship for two-and-a-half years, and knew that when he left for Drake University and she left for Iowa State, there would be some difficulty.
He says he’s “really passionate” about long-distance relationships and believes that “LDRs,” as he refers to them, can have their benefits.
“The benefit of a long distance relationship is that it teaches patience and communication skills, with communication being key to keep the relationship intact,” Wasik said. “The patience is good, too. No long-distance relationship needs animosity. As well as the security knowing that there’s someone waiting for you at the end of it.”
The study also showed that people in long-distance relationships were more likely to share meaningful thoughts and feelings than those who were not.
“My girlfriend and I try to Skype at least once or twice a week, and they often last between one and two hours,” said first-year international relations major Harrison Yu. “I feel that our Skype sessions are very meaningful and personal.”
Leebrick-Stryker, Wasik and Yu all agreed that there is one element to a long distance relationship that is necessary in for it to be successful: trust.
“Remember that the trust that you had before you started the long-distance relationship is still there,” Wasik said. “Remain true to the relationship, and try to be as open and honest about the relationship as possible. Communication is key to make the relationship work. If you don’t talk, there become problems, and people start getting hurt and start doubting the relationship.”
Yu agreed with Wasik, and added his own advice.
“It’s definitely not like a normal relationship. Just know that no matter what, they are there for you,” Yu said.
In the end, long distance relationships have both pros and cons, however, there is one aspect that makes it “so worth it,” according to Wasik.
“Even though the distance might be tough to handle, in the end, seeing your significant other makes the distance worthwhile. Yes, there are going to be bad days, but when those bad days end, good days are there to follow,” Wasik said. “Seeing your significant other is the best feeling in the world.”