OPINION | Long distance relationships aren’t worth the heartache

Aidan McCormick, a freshman finance major from Grass Valley, California, and Robin Lawless, a sophomore psychology major from Grass Valley, California, have been together for six years. They have jumped the hurdle of long distance and are still madly in love. It works for some, but is it worth the mental strain of doing long distance? Cora Mark | Sun News Daily

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Whoever said “love knows no distance” clearly never experienced the heartache, financial stresses and missed opportunities that come with navigating the labyrinth of long-distance relationships.

As someone who experienced an LDR during my freshman year, I know all too well the emotional rollercoaster that awaits those embarking on this miserable journey as first-time collegegoers. I say this not just because that relationship didn’t last but because I ruined what could have been a great freshman year.

I know I can’t be the only one with a similar story because about 75% of college students report having been in an LDR at one point in their life, and about 35% were in one during college. Although the numbers are high, that does not mean those LDRs are a wise choice.

Not only can LDRs be draining on students’ mental health, but they can also cause them to miss out on valuable experiences that come with attending college. Additionally, the money that could be put toward bettering those experiences is put toward the expenses that come with maintaining a LDR, which can be financially stressful.

Poor mental health 

The constant fights and arguments that come from miscommunication through a screen. The longing for their comfort after a hard day. The overthinking that comes when they go to a party without you. It all can take a big toll on one’s mental health. 

My poor mental health during my freshman year had many contributing factors, but being in an LDR was the biggest one. As a freshman, I wasn’t aware of all the resources available to help improve my mental health, which is something students become more knowledgeable about over the years. 

I also prioritized my LDR over school. Because I would rather stay up late on FaceTime calls than do my assignments, I watched as my grades plummeted, which had a great effect on my mental health. My grades went down while my anxiety and stress went up, creating a cycle of academic underperformance and emotional turmoil that took a toll on my overall well-being.

Financial stress 

Relationships are costly in general, but LDRs are financially draining. Instead of just spending money on dates, individuals are also spending money on flights, gasoline and therapy just to bridge the physical distance and heal the emotional toll that comes from those expenses. All of these quickly add up and put a strain on the already tight budgets of college students. 

According to a recent study on LDR couples, those who survived the long-distance phase spent two times as much money on traveling than couples who later broke up. What can be taken from this statistic is that if a student wants their LDR to succeed, they will most definitely need to take out a loan to achieve that goal.  

On average, LDR couples see each other once or twice a month. An average round-trip plane ticket costs anywhere between $200-$400. So, a student in an LDR visiting their partner once a month for a year will end up spending about $3,600. That is money that could go toward the necessities for living or even experiences that could better one’s college experience. 

Missed opportunities

Ever heard of True Trailblazer? What about college parties? How about Welcome Week? 

The beginning years of college are full of events and opportunities that are created purely with the intent of connecting students to campus and to each other. While students should be using those years to get to know others and make memories, those in an LDR tend to feel the guilt of enjoying life without their partner. Because of this, parties and school events seem a lot less interesting, and participating in one of Utah Tech University’s biggest traditions is definitely a no-go. 

As I sat in my dorm room the first couple weeks of my freshman year, I felt sad that I wasn’t out participating in all of the Welcome Week events, but what was the greater feeling was the guilt I had for not being able to experience college with my other half. Because of this attitude, I missed out on making friends, memories and opportunities that would have set me up for greater success sooner in my college career. 

Are all LDRs doomed to fail? No. There are people who find success and happiness in their LDRs. In fact, about 58% of LDRs do succeed, but is all the pain and trials that come with those relationships worth it? Again, the answer is no, especially for college students who could be experiencing so much more than the emotional strain and academic challenges that often accompany LDRs.

Do yourself a favor and save some heartache, money and time by embracing college without an LDR looming over you. It’s a journey that can be far more rewarding than the challenges of an LDR.