Okay, so I lied. Being in a long distance relationship does not make college "better". In general, being in a long distance relationship is not ideal. I don’t think anyone in a long distance relationship wants to be in one or even really enjoys being in one. Long distance relationships are hard, everybody knows it. Even people who have never been in one know it, they have opinions about it and everything!

So I don’t think there is a real demand to write out all the cons of being in an LDR, because it’s just depressing and if I’m being honest, I don’t think any one wants to hear any more of my complaining about it. But being in an LDR in college, as weird and out of place and hard as it seems (and is), does have it’s positives.

I started a long distance relationship with my high school boyfriend of 2 and half years when I came to college. Up until that point, we had literally spent all day together at school, between lunch, breaks, and the 5-6 (yes that many) classes we shared. So the whole “not seeing each other for weeks” thing was very new. Yet three months later here we are, enjoying the last days of winter break together, somehow surviving the famous “turkey dump”, and preparing for another quarter of phone calls and weekend visits.

tea, pizza, beer
Deborah Orret

Don’t ask me what we did differently to stay together, I couldn’t really tell you. It hasn’t really got “easier”, it just, kind off, kept going. And that, unfortunately, is the mantra of the LDR.

Thankfully, everything in life has good and bad, and these specific silver linings are definitely noteworthy. Not to say they necessarily cancel out the negatives, but they can be thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless.

1. You Get to "Find Yourself First" Without Actually Having to Be Single

wine, tea, coffee, water
Deborah Orret

Hey, it’s true. Being in a relationship for a long time, you kind of lose yourself for a second. After a while, your friends become his friends, you can talk about each others hobbies like you’re the one interested in it yourself, people start inviting you to things together, and everything in your life is somewhat shared with someone else. And honestly it’s really nice to have someone to share everything with, that’s kind of the whole point. But sometimes you do look back and wonder, who would I be without this person?

Now is my time to kind of figure that out, without having to lose my relationship. Everything is no longer shared. Now we have different friends, we do different things,  and when I go to a party or get invited to hang out, it’s just me! Even taking the same class is different now. We might both be taking calculus or linguistics, but I don’t sit next to him anymore, or share notes, or do homework together. All little things I was so used to sharing, I’m learning to do on my own. And I’m learning to really appreciate and take pride in the way I do things on my own. But at the same time, I still have someone to recount the days events to, I still have someone to call when I need a new perspective, I still have someone to introduce to my friends and to make new friends with.

All of those things, while now limited, haven’t gone away. I have the chance to enjoy the best of both of those worlds.

2. If You Live Close Enough, You Get to Travel and Experience a Whole New College 

apple, water, wine
Deborah Orret

My boyfriend goes to college about 90 miles away, on a campus that was built RIGHT on the beach. I would have loved to go to school on that campus because it’s absolutely beautiful. I love my school but no matter how beautiful the library is, it can’t beat doing homework with the ocean right next to you. In the end, though, it simply wasn’t the right fit for me. My specific major isn’t available, the department I’m interested in just isn’t as strong, and I wanted the added opportunity and experience of living in a city that I just wasn’t going to be able to get there.

But now, I have the chance to spend a few weekends living closer to the beach than I will probably ever live again, meeting new people I probably wouldn’t have ever had the chance of meeting otherwise, and briefly experiencing a new life and a new college with the person that I love. And that’s pretty great.

Also, little plus, no one knows the transportation system to travel those 90 miles with the least amount of money better than I do. Because @amtrak, you aren't cheap. 

3. You Get The True College Experience! (minus the hookups)

beer, birthday cake, chocolate, cake
Deborah Orret

Like every other college kid, I dove in headfirst to a place in a new city, without anyone I knew. I had to talk to new people and make new friends, because I literally didn’t know anyone else. I introduced myself to random people in the dining hall, went to a frat party with a bunch of girls I just met on the first weekend, hung out in dorms, took the bus to the beach, started rock climbing and doing yoga, joined spoon university, and went to eat junk food at midnight, like every night. The only thing I’m really missing out on is the dating game, but honestly, I'm okay with that right now. More than anything, it seems like working to eventually get to a relationship with someone you care about, and ding ding, I got lucky already.

Deborah Orret

And sure, I could do all these things with my boyfriend at my side, but the reality is, I might not have. I might not have stepped out of my comfort zone, because I wouldn’t have been FORCED to, because I had that comfort to lean back on. I might not have made the friends I did or have the experiences I had. I would have had others, which naturally would also have been happy and new, but I am still grateful for the unique ones I did have, the ones I had on my own.

I don’t think I’ll ever look back at this time now and say to myself I didn’t get to do something because of a boy. I don’t think I’ll look back and say “I didn’t learn to be alone when I had to” or look back and say “I didn’t have a good college experience”. This is my chance to experience this unique time in my life, one where things aren’t clear, or easy, yet also new and exciting. And I am doing it by myself, the way that every other college freshman does it.

But I also won’t look back and say “What would have happened if I had stayed with that boyfriend?” or “What would have happened if we had tried the long distance?” The biggest pro of them all: I will never be plagued with the “What If” questions, on either side.

I miss my boyfriend very much, and I look forward to the times we are together again. I am sad about the state my relationship is forced into; I am frustrated, and I am nostalgic. Distance sucks.

I would be the first to advise someone to stay out of an LDR in college if they can. But I would also be the first to advise someone not to fear the distance. To go for their own dreams and experiences, and encourage the person they love to do the same, regardless of each other. Because if you love the other person, as much as being in an LDR in college doesn’t make any sense, staying with them still makes a lot of sense. And so, you just, kinda, keep doing it.