Some people say it because it’s a great way to get out of a date. Others say it because it’s a great way to avoid the sketchy guy next door. But for a few people at Yale it’s true: they have a long distance boyfriend or girlfriend.
To many, the concept is just as scary as it is comforting. To be in a relationship can be a wonderfully rewarding experience, but part of that reward comes from that person’s physical proximity to you. Without that proximity, it takes much more to keep a relationship afloat.
Most people in long-distance relationships at Yale began dating their significant other before they came to school, during the summer or before the individual graduated.
E.B. Kelly’s ’03 boyfriend Josh Olken ’01 is a recent graduate. So what’s the skinny E.B.? How do you make it work?
Well, she finds it to be easier than she ever imagined.
“We keep in very close touch, and speak on the phone everyday. Not every conversation is earth-shattering, but it is nice to hear from that other person when you can’t be together,” she says.
For Kelly — unlike many other Yalies in long-distance relationships — her boyfriend is still within traveling distance. He lives in New York so they are able to visit each other quite often. Accruing Metro-North frequent-rider miles like it’s her job has become both a stress and blessing. It allows her to spend time with her boyfriend, Josh, and also relieve herself of the stress of worrying about infidelity.
That is not so easy for Don Turnbull ’05 and Will Schleyer ’04, who are both in long-distance relationships with people outside of the Northeast. One thing that Turnbull emphasizes in his relationship is that carving out time for each other every day is important — but that also means you must trust the other person to tell you everything that happens.
“Sure I worry,” says Turnbull, “Sometimes I call and hear another guy in the background at 3 a.m. and wonder. But I have to catch myself and trust her.”
Schleyer looks at it differently. There are just certain things that a boyfriend and a girlfriend do that make them different from a normal friend — we all know what they are.
To Schleyer, the lack of this ‘special sauce’ is where the root of infidelity lies. But it’s also what makes having a long-distance significant other exciting.
“I just roll with it. Besides, when you haven’t seen someone for a really long time, it just makes things all the more intense,” Schleyer said.
Will, don’t feel bad, we all have needs — but do long-distance relationships fulfill all of those needs? Sexual, emotional and otherwise? Surprisingly, most people say they do. Since most of these relationships start before distance becomes an issue, most couples have a solid base for their relationship. The decision to proceed is mutual and so is the desire to make things work.
As Kelly says: “Josh gets nervous when I tell him I’m going to Toad’s to see the men’s basketball team. But he knows that I am only teasing, and that our relationship is strong in spite of the distance. We are in it together.”