Freshman Allyson Ford also has experience with long distance relationships. Soon after she began dating her boyfriend, who is a corporal in the U.S. Marines Corps, he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, for two years.
At first, Ford said all that mattered was making the most of their situation.
“He’s just a genuinely good person. I can trust him 100 percent, which I think is hard to come by in relationships these days,” said Ford. “I didn’t want to get rid of what we had.”
Ford said maintaining a long-distance relationship with someone in the military adds other stressors. Couples often go ten months without seeing their significant others, and communication is challenging.
“It was frustrating to not be able to be completely open with each other. It’s also frustrating to know that at any given point in time they could be sent off to war to go fight and that weighs on your mind a lot because you worry about their safety,” Ford said.
Ford’s transition to UNC changed her schedule and made it difficult for the couple to stay in touch. Ford and her boyfriend dated for 21 months before breaking up.
“I wasn’t putting in the effort to communicate with him as much and I think that lack of communication was a big contributor of why things went downhill,” said Ford.
Freshman Matt Shear has dated his girlfriend Allie Modica, a junior at the University of Delaware, for three years. During this time, Shear and Modica have gone through multiple transitions, including Modica’s move from high school to college and Shear’s subsequent move to the South two years later .
“Your relationship can be a burden, especially long distance, because you enjoy most of the emotional benefits, but at the same time there are a lot of stressors, and you don’t have the physical contact or proximity to your partner,” Shear said.
The couple tried an open relationship to make Modica’s transition to college life easier. A semester later, she and Shear were back to being fully committed.
“The idea of an open relationship makes sense, but for it to be mutually beneficial, it has to be mutually wanted,” Shear said. “I didn’t want, necessarily, an open relationship, but I wanted her, so I was willing to sacrifice for that.”
Over time, Shear and Modica said they learned to focus less on the fact that they were apart and more on the exciting parts of their days. Shear also said he believes a successful couple should build a comfort level where they can be intimate even when they’re not together.
Shear said there are benefits to long-distance relationships because he has time to spend with his friends without devoting all his time to his significant other.
Lee agreed and said being in a long-distance relationship has given her the freedom to grow as a person and be independent while having the emotional support from someone she cares about. She believes if she were in a relationship with someone on campus, she would not be as willing to make new friends or try new things.
“If you find it, you should hold onto it for as long as you can and not let any external factors, like people telling you to break up, affect your relationship with someone,” she said.