Romance that goes the distance

Nov. 14, 2004, midnight | By Melanie Thompson | 18 years, 6 months ago

Blazers in long-distance relationships test how far their love can go

The bill was $683—that's how much senior Heather Baker owed her parents at the end of the summer before her junior year. Every penny was spent on long-distance calls to her boyfriend some 500 miles away.

Unfortunately, Baker realized that the relationship was straining more than just her wallet. By the end of the relationship, she says, she had been cheated on and lied to by her so-called sweetheart. Her self-esteem had taken a beating. She broke up with him determined never to date anyone out of state again.

According to London's The Daily Telegraph, seven out of eight long-distance relationships don't last—and that's just for adults. Baker and other Blazers in these relationships attribute the short-lived nature of their romances to communication troubles, the distance between them and a lack of willingness to commit. For those who can make it, though, love is sweet.

Trouble in paradise

Warning bells that senior Suzanne Adjogah's relationship with Jonathan Evans, her boyfriend of two years, was going awry rang loudly soon after he left for college in Philadelphia. They used to talk every day; last September, however, Adjogah began to feel that Evans no longer had time for her. "Once he went to college, it seemed like he never had time to talk," she says. "After a while, it felt like he didn't have space in his life for me anymore."

On an extreme occasion, Adjogah called Evans 12 times in a day—and left 12 messages. At this point it became clear to her: Their lack of communication was eroding their relationship. When she realized she wasn't happy anymore, she decided that it was in her best interest to break off the relationship and move on.

Senior Ivy Winston believed that she was in love with then-boyfriend Jimari Jones, who lives in Georgia, after spending time with him in Williamsburg, Virginia on vacation. When they had to part, Winston was distraught. "On the day he left, I was so sad. I felt like I had found the one," she recalls.

The relationship worked out for a while, Winston says, until she realized that they really didn't have that much in common after all. She stopped e-mailing him and answering his calls before finally ending the relationship.

Losing interest can turn ugly when a partner seeks new ways to rekindle the spark—with someone else. Baker, for instance, met her boyfriend on the internet at a time in her life when she was "really vulnerable." During the course of their 14-month relationship, Baker's boyfriend cheated on her and left her devastated. Looking back, she laments that she "risked too much"—even a steady relationship with her parents—for nothing, while her boyfriend risked nothing at all.

Love the long-distance way

Psychologist Whitford Schuyler contends sincerity is another factor that is absolutely essential for the success of long-distance relationships. "There's got to be real care taken with honesty," he says, explaining that couples separated by distance can't "shorthand" their relationship. He stresses that the more details given, the easier it is for partners to trust one another. "It's real important that people don't tell vague stories that can be interpreted in a funny way," Schuyler warns.

Senior Anthony Coello lives by that advice. Everyday he uses an international phone card to call his girlfriend Gabriella Pirez, who returned to her native country, Brazil, last summer after graduating from Blair. They talk about the little things, like what went on during her day or who he sat next to at lunch. "We try to keep everything between us the same, as if she wasn't even far. As if it was like, 'Oh, I'm sorry I couldn't see you today,'" he says.

Coello says that while talking on the phone is helpful in maintaining communication, it cannot replace seeing each other in person, so he's visiting Pirez in Brazil. He's saved up his money from his job as a cell phone dealer, bought the $749.50 plane ticket, purchased the $100 U.S. Visa and has even learned Portuguese so he can converse with her family. Coello is determined not to let distance get in the way.

Schuyler believes that distance can even be beneficial in certain relationships. "Some people do much better when there's a built-in distance because they're not very good at creating boundaries, and distance creates those boundaries," he says.

Junior Monique Eldridge relies on the strength of their feelings for one another with her boyfriend, who lives in Chicago, to breech those boundaries. They've been dating for four months ever since they met while working at a summer camp this year. The two make sure they see each other often. She just visited him in September; she plans to go back for Christmas.

Eldridge and her boyfriend understand how crucial communication is in a long-distance relationship. "Communication is all we have," she says. "If you don't communicate, you think, 'Is he doing something he's not supposed to be doing?' or 'Does he not want to talk to me?'" Eldridge says that their commitment to correspond with each other daily keeps their relationship strong.

Long-lasting love

For Blazers in long-distance relationships, it's still unclear whether "absence makes the heart grow fonder," or "out of sight, out of mind" is the proper truth. While Baker doesn't strongly encourage such relations, she believes that some can be successful. "If you really think you can make it work," she says, "go for it."

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Melanie Thompson. Melanie Thompson is currently a junior in CAP and a page editor on Silver Chips. She enjoys hot baths, appearing aside famous stars in movies, and watching Agent Vaughn on Alias. A little known fact about Melanie is that she is a huge fan of … More »

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