Liz and Brendan met while attending high school in the Tampa Bay area. She was a sophomore; he was a senior. Caught in a predicament that challenges many young couples, the two had to decide whether Brendan's relocation to Philadelphia for college would end their seven-month relationship.
They decided to make it work. Interestingly, when it was her time to select a college, Liz opted out of moving to her boyfriend's city. Fast-forward a few years to find Liz and Brendan in their mid-20s - still together. Both are upper-level medical and graduate students at UF, and they have been happily married for almost a year.
One has to wonder, is the case of Liz and Brendan a fluke, or could long-distance be the key to a successful relationship?
Long-distance can be a bitch. No matter how secure you think you are, not seeing your partner face-to-face can be unbearable. And the temptations of college life don't help.
Before you even begin a long-distance relationship, you have to know you'll be able to handle it. It requires patience, understanding and an infinite amount of trust. If you don't completely trust your companion, it's not going to work.
But don't let me make it sound all doom and gloom. My girlfriend and I are doing the long-distance thing, and it's going great. So for all my fellow long-distance couples out there, I have a couple tips to help you close the gap.
It is a fact that agreeing to do long-distance with your partner is a sign that you are in a serious relationship. The key is to keep this strong through the days, weeks or months that you're apart. If you ever begin to doubt your bond, remember why you are doing this in the first place. Your partner must be pretty awesome if you are willing to be completely faithful to them yet hardly ever see them.
Distance magnifies every situation, good and bad. The trick is keeping the negativity to a minimum by not sweating the small stuff. Something you wouldn't regularly notice in-person can be a nagging issue through phone calls or texts. If you find yourself getting feisty, ask yourself: Will a bitter battle really accomplish all that much in the end? If you don't have a concrete reason for picking a fight, don't do it. Frequent little fights are what chip away at a perfectly good relationship.
There's something to be said for a couple that can connect without physically being together. As one who has never been in a traditional long-distance relationship, I have to take an indeterminate albeit safe position on the matter: The success of a long-distance relationship boils down to the character, expectations and wants of the individuals involved.
Let's start this discussion with a logical exercise. If one were to assume long-distance relationships to be eventual failures based on the lack of palpable contact, then the opposite assumption suggests relationships that share the same locale are destined to work. Clearly, this is flawed.
In order to transition my general speculation into a more discerning opinion, I decided to compile feedback from a variety of people who are, have been or are considering long-distance romance. The reactions I received were all over the map. In some cases, geographic separation was ammunition for anxiety, while for others, space likened a savior, a blessing that enabled more time for individual reflection and growth while simultaneously allowing the benefits of relationship gratification.
For example, let's take the couple from this week's intro: Liz and Brendan. When asked to look back and decipher the positives that came from being in a long-distance relationship, Liz attributed some of her achievements to having ample alone time.
"Being long-distance almost made it easier for me to accomplish what I needed to do to finish high school and prepare for college," she said. "Even in college, not having Brendan always around made it easier for me to get my work done. I think it also made us appreciate the time we had together even more."
But one also has to take into account the chemistry that naturally exists between those in the relationship. Even Liz said, "If it's meant to be, it will be. Take your partner's needs into account, but don't compromise yourself."
I can't help but ask, how is this observation any different from those who see their partner on a daily basis?
Although few things contend the fulfillment of spooning your companion, perhaps an empty bed and little longing on occasion could do every relationship some good.