‘Don’t be scared of it’: students reflect on long distance relationships


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

A student speaks on a video call.

By Elle Kenney, Staff Writer

For Sydney Lang, long distance relationships aren’t necessarily easy, but they aren’t as bad as many people fear. 

Lang, a sophomore media and professional communications major, started dating her boyfriend, Andre, in their senior year of high school. He currently attends the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which is over a seven-hour drive from Pittsburgh.

“It was definitely hard to adjust to him not being able to text him like ‘Oh, come over’ or ‘Let’s have dinner.’” Lang said. “And we dated in high school as well, so I’d always see him in the halls or see him around our high school campus.”

Long distance commitments are often seen as difficult to maintain, but three Pitt students opened up about the ins and outs of their relationships and how they make them work. Though there are hardships and stressful moments, they recount that not all of their experiences are negative. 

While she does miss seeing him everyday, Lang said she notices that couples who went to the same college often break up, perhaps because they don’t give each other enough room for individual growth. 

“It was a little sad not accidentally seeing him at the library or just out in public,” Lang said. “But it’s also kind of nice having our own separate little lives that we get to tell each other about at the end of the day. So there’s definitely a lot of pros and definitely a lot of cons.”

Carli Starman, junior nursing major, also found that the separation and independence has created a stronger bond between her and her boyfriend, Aiden, who attends Michigan State. They met in their first year of high school and began dating at the end of their sophomore year.

“Since we started dating so young, it’s like, we got this chance to be independent and sort of live on our own while still being together,” Starman said. “A lot of couples in college, I feel, get really codependent and are together all the time. And we both sort of know how to live our own lives, but would just rather be together.”

At first, long distance relationships can be really difficult, said Maeve Cast, a senior environmental science major. She and her boyfriend, Drew, a first-year graduate student at Marywood University, have dated for six years.

“It was a lot harder at first I think, just because he stayed in Scranton, which is our hometown, and I went to Pittsburgh,” Cast said. “It was a little harder at first just because I was a lot busier than him because I was in a new city, new friends, new school…But as time went on, we really learned our groove and what worked best for us.”

Lang, Cast and Starman all agree that long distance relationships are not perfect. Cast said it’s really tough when you want to see your partner on particularly hard days but you can only Facetime them. Finding time to talk that works for both partners is another struggle, she said. 

“On harder days it sucks that he can’t be there for me or like we can’t just hang out casually at night or when we both get done with homework,” Cast said. “We can’t see each other, we just have to FaceTime each other. Sometimes our schedules don’t line up so we don’t really get to have a good solid talk on the phone for a few days.”

Starman said another frustrating aspect of long-distance relationships is hearing other people’s unwarranted comments about her relationship, which are often negative.

“Everybody has an opinion, so that’s kind of annoying,” Starman said. “You tell someone you’re in a long distance relationship, and instead of being like ‘Oh, that’s cool,’’ they’re like ‘Oh, why?’ Or if you’re out and someone asked you to dance or whatever, and you’re like ‘No, I have a boyfriend’ and they’re like ‘Well, where’s your boyfriend?’”

While maintaining long distance relationships are sometimes difficult, Lang said the pain lessened over time. 

“I​​f you were to ask me a year ago, if it was tough, I would definitely say ‘Yes, it’s the hardest thing ever,’” Lang said. “But if you were to ask me now, I think the heart grows fonder with distance.” 

For those who are in or want to try a long distance relationship, Cast said her best advice is to communicate with your partner.

“Whether or not that means talking on the phone once a day, or even if it’s just an hour a week or just texting throughout the day, whatever style works for you.” Cast said. “Once you have that figured out, a lot of stuff becomes more natural.”

Lang’s advice for people is to follow their heart. She believes if two people are meant to be together, they can make it work regardless of distance.

“Don’t be scared of it because literally anybody can do it,” Lang said. “Like I said before, if you want to be with them and you’re supposed to be with them, you’re gonna be with them. So don’t let the idea of long distance freak you out.”