Ask Abby, Lifestyle

Ask Abby (or Analise): Distance makes the heart grow fonder?

Dear Abby: Is it possible to love from afar? In my head, I feel like distance can still work, but in my experience, it cannot. So, should we just cut our losses short and forget about long-distance dating altogether?

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

This is a qualm that a lot of college couples seem to be facing. I’m sure you know how this goes: two people sit next to each other in class or mingle in some other way on campus. They find they have a lot in common and start spending some time together. Next thing you know, they find themselves in a relationship.

It’s picture perfect, although given that students come to BU from far and wide, your hot date could live across the country from you — or possibly a different continent.

So, what is there to do then? Do you close the chapter on your love story as you close the last page to your textbook? Do you return all the love that you shared as you turn in your rented books to Barnes and Noble?

I’m personally a fan of the saying, “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Call me “Miss Independent,” but I sometimes think a little space is good. I don’t really believe in pure codependency in relationships, so if anything, taking some physical space can work wonders.

However, not everyone has the ability to love from afar. That doesn’t make them a bad person, but it can prove difficult if you’re on the other end of that relationship. I feel like it all comes down to how we approach love. 

What’s a little space?

To some people, serious relationships may not come very easily —understandable. However, once they do “fall in love,” they are fully committed to the bit. 

Those who love hard seldom have an issue with distance because they are very secure in their feelings towards the other person. This doesn’t necessarily make them a better lover than their partner, but for them, long distance just clicks better. 

With that being said, if you do commit to something that puts you and your love apart, I would wholeheartedly say that communication is key –– and no, not just through Instagram, Snapchat or text. You really need to get in that one-on-one time, preferably through something like FaceTime — pick your poison.

If you’re not going to see each other in class every day, you need to compensate for that lack of physical intimacy through talking.

Although the USPS can be quite unreliable, I can imagine it would help sending your lover letters or other things in the mail. Couples tend to give each little gifts and trinkets pretty often in person anyways, so don’t let land or sea come in between that.

Like I always say: words are the most important gift you can give, whether that be verbally, or hand-written. If you frequently let your partner know how much you appreciate them, your connection can still stay strong.

Don’t get me wrong, being physical and intimate is a quintessential part of any relationship, but it’s not the most important part. Sometimes, I think a bit of separation can highlight how compatible couples are outside of sex and makeouts. 

Why don’t you come on over?

There’s another side to this debate. For some people, proximity is essential for any thriving relationship — that doesn’t necessarily make them a bad partner if they split things off. They may just take a more anxious approach when it comes to loving.

Generally speaking, long distance dating has its challenges. It can be hard to be surrounded by friends and couples who are constantly hanging out or going on dates, while you and your lover can only share time through a screen.

Plus, have you ever heard of “love languages?” Well, for some people, how they express their love is through touch — something long distance can put a strain on. As someone who’s not super touchy-feely, I enjoy the confines of my personal bubble, but not everyone feels the same way. 

What’s more is that people might feel like they’re not even in a relationship because they aren’t actively forming new memories together. It’s easy to feel like your life with someone is moving parallel, rather than overlapping and intertwining. 

In cases like this, not even the best communicators and storytellers can compensate for the physical nearness the relationship is lacking. Just know that if you and your partner split off, no one is necessarily in the wrong. You both just have different ways of loving.

My thoughts

Although dating advice is almost second nature to me, I did some tough thinking when asked my thoughts on long distance.

Reflecting back on past experiences and the relationships of others, I feel that long distance is a viable option, but not in the long term. Even as someone who likes their independence as much as myself, I feel like when the separation persists beyond a few months, the relationship can start to seem more fictitious than real.

I should add though, that whether or not you and your partner decide to split, know that love probably wasn’t the lacking factor. You can still love someone and not be as compatible as you initially thought you were — and hey, that’s okay! Committing to a relationship is a learning process. 

If you take anything away from this, let it be that love lost is not love wasted.

When I went through my first breakup, here’s what I thought: you had a fabulous time with the person while you were still together, and not only did you learn a lot about them, but you also learned about yourself. You grew, tried new things and really put yourself out there. You may not be partners anymore, but that does not negate all the good times you got to have with them.

I feel like everyone you have the privilege to love in your lifetime are part of some big quilt. Each square is different and stitched with a different pattern, but they’re all tied together with the love you have shared with them. Sometimes, we finish a patch and realize it has fulfilled its role in our life, and now it’s time to move on to the next. 

So, while I do think some distance does the heart wonders, it clearly doesn’t always make it grow fonder. But fear not, there are as many open hearts waiting for someone to walk through as there are people out there.

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One Comment

  1. Love languages and moving apart is a great idea for couples. This is pretty awful, uneducated advice. The love languages thing has been proven to be fake and a silly thing to sell books. The idea that physical space is helpful for relationships is pretty ridiculous and sounds like someone is actually afraid of commitment rather than the independent free spirit they paint themselves as. Also, less important but the USPD is pretty darn reliable. It seems like very little actual thought was put into this response.