Long-distance relationships in college

Distance makes the heart grow fonder


Andrew Duong

Senior Juliana Aviles with a photo of her long distance boyfriend, Eli Maierson

“How do you make it work?” is the question that Juliana Aviles, senior sociology major, always gets asked. Aviles has been dating her boyfriend since freshman year of high school, and she said that most people freak out when they hear that they have been together for almost seven years.

“You start dating someone, you don’t really expect to date for a really, really long time. We started dating and just dated throughout high school and then decided we want to keep dating even though he goes to school in Massachusetts, which is pretty far away,” Aviles said. “But we tried not to let college decisions affect where the other person was going to go because I feel like that always ends poorly.”

Kiara Fernando, first-year human resource management major, is in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend, who goes to Texas A&M University in College Station. The two have been together for just under a year, and she hitches a ride up there with a friend every few weeks to see him. They started dating last November with the intention of doing long-distance when they both left for college.

“It sucks sometimes just because you don’t have your person there with you,” Fernando said. “But I usually see him like every other week. It could be a lot worse.”

Fernando said that when she and her boyfriend are apart, they try to do a quick call every night and a long call on Sundays. She said that in long-distance relationships, as long as talking to your partner doesn’t feel like a chore, you’re doing it right.

“I think communication is a really big thing. I feel like we had a very stable foundation going into it, which I think is important,” Fernando said. “If you aren’t already communicating, long distance is not going to make that any easier.”

Anna Jane Hilbrich is a junior psychology and religion double major who has been with her boyfriend for about four-and-a-half years. The two of them FaceTime a lot and see each other most weekends.

“It’s totally doable, but also we had been together for a really long time [before college],” Hilbrich said. “We didn’t go to the same high school, and so we already had to learn about communicating.”

Hilbrich and her boyfriend are both from Houston, and when she goes and visits home, she stays with him at his house. They plan to live together in San Antonio next year, and she said that having an end goal to be long-distance has been really important for them.

“When I leave him, I have to know when the next time I’m going to see him is,” Hilbrich said. “It’s really hard if we don’t know.”

From March 2020 to January 2021, Aviles and her boyfriend did not see each other due to the pandemic. She said that they did a lot of virtual dates like watching Netflix and doing online puzzles together over FaceTime.

Aviles said that while it may be hard to think about when first starting a long-distance relationship, being able to hang out with friends and still have someone far away can be a good exercise in self-growth.

“I think it’s a difficult thing to start off doing because we’re like, ‘Oh, this person’s having a great time without me,’” Aviles said. “I think eventually you learn that [it] will also make you happy if that person’s having a good time, even if you’re not there.”