January 27, 2011

Dealing with love over distances

Long distance relationships face all the same challenges as any other young relationship, with the added complication that a loved one is across the country. The cons are obvious: loss of intimacy, potential for miscommunication and temptation at parties. Still, Knox freshmen make them work.

When a relationship bloomed in late June, freshman John Hewelt wasn’t willing to let this one go. Hewelt entered into an open relationship as girlfriend Katie headed off almost 200 miles away to Marquette University. Entering college in the midst of a relationship created a few bumps as both adjusted to “a much larger world than the one we experienced prior,” Hewelt said.

He said that the hardest component of maintaining the relationship is the “potential for miscommunication.” In a long-distant relationship, there is a newfound attachment to technology such as texting, e-mailing and Facebook. This creates an issue of determining the subtext of certain electronic messages. Without being able to hear the other person’s voice or read his or her body language, there is a certain level of ambiguity, Hewelt admits.

This places further emphasis on phone calls and Skype, but the real trick to success is an open and honest relationship, Hewelt explains. This includes being honest about other attractions. Hewelt states that, though they are very much in love, “we wanted to keep that world open.”

A general openness about new experiences was also present in fellow freshman Bekah Lauer’s relationship. On Valentine’s Day, Lauer and her boyfriend Julius will have been together two years, a year and a half of that in a long-distance relationship.

Lauer and Julius discussed the logistics of a relationship before agreeing to it. Her boyfriend has visited and Lauer hopes to see him again sometime during winter term, an undertaking made difficult by increasing travel prices.

The biggest issue for Lauer was finding the right balance between her friends and boyfriend. “If I was hanging out with a friend and Julius called, I used to drop whatever I was doing to talk to him,” Lauer said. Since then, she explains, she has found a healthy balance.

After some time, she has reached the conclusion that “this is the best situation for me.” Though it’s admittedly difficult for Lauer to be so far away, the growing trust and security in the relationship keeps it strong. She confesses that her relationship also keeps her out of trouble when parties come around. Mutual agreements surrounding parties prevent issues.

Re-entering a relationship, this time long-distance, was definitely a concern for freshman Vicky Hallberg. Breaking up before Hallberg left for Knox, she and her boyfriend Henry decided to give their relationship another shot. Over winter break, Hallberg rekindled her high school romance. Sharing a hometown makes it easier for them to stay in touch. Hallberg also goes home about once a month, which allows for fairly frequent physical contact.

“We’re just taking it step by step,” Hallberg says. The biggest issue for her involves trusting one another to be open and honest about everything. She admits that Facebook can make the relationship harder at times, as both read different things into messages or conversations with others.

In the end, Hallberg sticks with it because “he truly makes me happy.” Plain and simple.

Samantha Paul
Samantha Paul is a senior double majoring in creative writing and Spanish. She previously served as both a news reporter and a copy editor for TKS. During the summer of 2012, Sam served as press chair of a literacy brigade in El Salvador. She has also interned with both Bloom Magazine and The Galesburg Register-Mail. At Knox, Sam is an organizational editor for Catch magazine.

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