Long-distance-relationship stereotypes not always true

Eleanor Roosevelt said absence makes the heart grow fonder, and college students in long-distance relationships hope she was right. According to research conducted at Ohio State University, about 75 percent of students have been, are, or will be in a long-distance relationship at some point in their college career, said Laura Stafford, associate professor at OSU and author of the book “Maintaining Long-Distance and Cross-Residential Relationships.”

The interesting results show there are many stereotypes and judgments made about long-distance relationships that have been discovered to be untrue, Stafford said.

She said, according to her research, long-distance relationships are much more stable than proximal relationships, but often because couples involved tend to avoid conflict over the phone.

Sara Shannon, a sophomore psychology major, said one of the most difficult parts of being in a long-distance relationship is fighting over the phone.

“When you get in fights it’s not as easy to go ahead and make up because you can’t see the person,” she said.

Stafford said there are many positive and negative aspects of being in a long-distance relationship.

“Some of the very same things that make long-distance relationships work are the same things that contribute to them not working when they are back together,” she said.

According to her research, long-distance couples are much more idealized and romanticized. Couples who live in different cities are less likely to have discussed issues that are important to discuss before marriage.

“The relationship is progressing much more slowly in terms of knowledge about the other person, in terms of not putting on your make-up and hanging out in sweats or being yourself around them,” Stafford said.

Stafford said people enjoy long-distance relationships because of the independence it gives them.

Shannon said a benefit of being in a long-distance relationship is that she gets to focus on school more.

Nick Peterson, a freshman movement science major, has been in a long-distance relationship since he came to school in August. He said talking to his girlfriend often has helped their relationship.

“The fact that we talk so much has made us closer,” Peterson said.

Another untrue stereotype of long-distance relationships is the idea that there are higher rates of jealousy and cheating, Stafford said.

“If you’re not committed, you are going to be not committed whether you are there or not,” Stafford said.

Despite being difficult for those involved, about a third to half of college romances are deemed long-distance, Stafford said.

That said, rather than going on a romantic date for Valentine’s Day, some students on campus will be spending the evening on the phone.