Long Distance Love
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder?
In 2005, nearly 15 million people in the U.S. categorized themselves as being in a long distance relationship. Job relocation, an unstable economy, the military, college and studying abroad were listed as being a handful of common factors in these separations.
Story | Danielle Pauly
Graphics and Photo | Taylor Ringenberg
Courtney Turner, a junior advertising and marketing communications major at Webster University, started dating her boyfriend, Austin Dendy, her senior year of high school. The following year Turner, a St. Louis native, moved to Webster Groves to attend Webster. A year later, Dendy packed for Texas A&M University.
“Obviously in the beginning, it was really hard to adjust to the fact of seeing him every day and then not seeing him for 16 weeks at a time,” Turner says. “But it’s something that we’re used to, and it doesn’t bother me that I don’t see him every day; it doesn’t bother him that he doesn’t see me because we talk often enough to make sure that our relationship stays working.”
The couple has had much practice being apart, which helped during Turner’s spring semester abroad in Geneva, Switzerland.
“We have two different college experiences. […] I go to school and work at school; I go to class and then I have free time,” Turner says.
“He wakes up really early and has to do work, then go to class while wearing a uniform. It can be hard to relate to, especially since I’m not experiencing it with him.”
With the world of technology expanding at such a rapid pace, long distance relationships are becoming more feasible. The pair communicates via text and Skype mostly.
“This might sound kind of weird to people that never have the opportunity to be separated, but our relationship is extremely healthy, and even though separation sounds absolutely horrible, I think it really helped our relationship grow,” Turner says.
Caitlin Ayres, a junior advertising major, met her boyfriend, Ryan Hammer, during her last week of classes in Thailand. Hammer is a snowboarder from Virginia whose father was relocated to Bangkok, Thailand; he is a full-time student at the Webster Thailand campus. Not planning on getting involved in anything romantically serious, the two found themselves in a relationship that is nearing a year in length.
“He invited me to come out to his house in Virginia,” Ayres says. “I was just having a little fun, and I guess he liked me.”
Despite the 13 hour time difference, the couple keeps in touch through text messaging, Skype and Facebook.
“He likes to have his fun, so he goes out all the time. I don’t; I work. So you know, it’s whenever we can. I don’t like to plan things because if it doesn’t happen then I get upset,” Ayres says.
The pair visits one another whenever they get a break. Hammer traveled to the U.S. from Thailand over winter break this past December to spend time with Ayres. The longest they have gone without seeing one another is five and a half months.
“It’s really stressful, especially when I’m having a really horrible time. He can comfort me to a certain extent, but at the same time it’s just like why can’t he be here?” Ayres says.
Hammer plans to attend the Webster main campus for the fall 2013 semester.
Ryan Dipirro came to know his now ex-girlfriend, Katherine Muraski, a freshman international business major at Webster, through friends. They were together off-and-on for a year and a half while Dipirro lived in New York, and Muraski lived in Missouri.
Though the pair never had a chance to meet in person, they were best friends before dating and continued to be throughout their relationship. They bonded over games such as “World of Warcraft” and “Magic: The Gathering” and told one another daily that they loved each other via Skype as they made plans for the future.
“The relationship worked when we were honest with each other,” Dipirro says. “Secrets create barriers between people.”
Before the break up, the pair had plans to visit one another.
“I dreamed about it for months. All of our amazing plans just faded away,” Dipirro says.
Muraski would chat with Dipirro on Skype for hours at a time, leaving Skype open on her computer just in case Dipirro ever wanted to talk.
Muraski says, “Sometimes it would just get really tiring, especially when you just want to relax and just don’t want to get on Skype. It started to become a chore.”
With the lack of in-person communication, ending a long distance relationship can be a tad tricky.
“I think the biggest issue with ending long distance relationships is that it leaves a lot of things unanswered,” Muraski says. “In real life you can be like, oh, I don’t really get along with this person 100 percent, and you know that you don’t get along with that person. Whereas with long distance, you don’t know 100 percent. It could have worked out, but it might not have. There’s a lot of unsure feelings.”
Just because things don’t always go as planned doesn’t mean that they weren’t worth the risk. Life is full of gambles and sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t. Next time a curveball is thrown, embrace its uncertainty and accept the chance for relationships, memories and experiences of a lifetime.