A simple Google search of “long distance relationships” can be met with discouragement: the general consensus of the Internet appears to be that long distance relationships are more about surviving than thriving. Cosmopolitan offers a series of shallow, borderline sexist tips to living through the experience, including taking up cooking or tennis lessons, never arguing over text and setting up long distance dates on a regular basis.
According to the Globe and Mail, seven per cent of Canadians over the age of 20 were involved in a long distance relationship during 2011. Another study released in collaboration between the University of Hong Kong and Cornell University found that couples who live apart may communicate more effectively than couples who do not. However, it seems that the conversation about geographically distant relationships continues to be dominated by a discourse of scorned lovers, bitter over their wasted time and efforts.
Sophie Foxman, a second year International Development and Sustainability student at Dalhousie, has been dating her boyfriend for seven months after meeting at a summer camp that participates in international exchanges. It is both her first serious relationship and her first long distance relationship.
“He’s not the kind of person I saw myself in a serious relationship with,” she says. “He is very athletic, very involved on campus, very charismatic and outgoing. I’m not going to say I’m the opposite of that, but we balance each other in a lot of ways.”
Foxman’s boyfriend lives in London, UK. The pair have had to opportunity to see each other twice since separating seven months ago, the first time being in November when Foxman visited London.
“The airport—we still talk about it,” she smiles fondly at the memory of their reunion. “That was the first time we’d been apart. We obviously knew that we were excited to see each other but there’s still that tiny worry of doubt that maybe things changed. Then we saw each other, and we were just so happy and felt so, so lucky.”
When asked what part of “normal” relationships she misses most, Foxman is quick to state that it’s the physical part.
“I don’t mean just sex,” she says. “Even just holding hands while we’re walking around, or being scared in a movie and grabbing him. I miss that. That’s hard to replace.”
Despite the lack of physical contact, Foxman remains unconcerned about the state of their relationship, seldom having doubts.
“I’m not a crazy-jealous type,” she says. “Because I knew him so well before going long distance, I’m never worried. I trust him. We’re very communicative, which I think you have to be, because that’s what our entire relationship is based on.”
While there is no set end date to the distance between them, they are often looking to the future.
“It’s weird,” she says. “In a long distance relationship, you do have to think of the future a lot more, because you don’t have the ‘right now’ to look forward to.”
“You’ll know if it’s right. It’s worth trying if it’s someone you genuinely care about, and you have plans to make it work. It takes more effort. It’s not just a ‘now’ relationship – we make this work now, so that we can be together in the long run.”