By: Natelege Whaley
They came from two different worlds. Kristal Hansley was student body president, and Ricky Wayo was just the quiet guy that kept to himself; however, their love for chess brought them together as friends. Soon the unlikely match were inseparable and by prom, even though they came with different dates, they both ended up spending most of the night together. By graduation they were official. The summer was filled with romance, but Hansley realized it was beginning to crumble as it got closer for her departure date for Howard University. Wayo was going to be staying in New York for school. As arguments and talks of the future increased, Wayo became more and more upset, but still they decided to go the long distance relationship route.
“By October we had our first breakup,” Kristal Hansley says, a sophomore political science major from Brooklyn, New York. “We had a wonderful summer together, but it wasn’t enough for a long distance relationship. It proved to me a long distance relationship needs a strong foundation as a couple, and we didn’t have enough time together to have that.” By April of 2008, Hansley and Wayo had broken up four times. Hansley’s sour experience is a reason why many college students do not want to be bothered with long distance relationships.
“Long distance relationships can work though,” says LaDawn Black, host of The Love Zone on 92.3 FM in Baltimore, Maryland. She is an expert on relationships and covers topics on her show such as cheating, marriages, dating, and homosexuality. She is also author of the book Stripped Bare: The 12 Truths That Will Help You Land the Very Best Black Man, published in June 2003.
“First, you have to set rules and expectations. Are we going to see other people? How often will we see each other? How often will we call each other? You have to set rules so nobody gets caught off guard.” Second to ground rules is open communication. “Whether it’s sending each other nice text messages, or sending care packages or gift baskets through the mail. You have to find a way to keep the romance heavy to keep the feelings fresh,” Says Black. Lastly Black suggests scheduling reunions. “If you know when you are going to see each other then there is something to look forward to.”
This does not mean everyone is cut out for long distance relationships. There are some signs that one should not get into a long distance relationship in the first place. “If the relationship was not going well at home. If we were having that whole ‘knock down drag thing’ at home chances are things won’t get any better,” Black says.
According to Black other things can lead to break ups in long distance relationships including cheating and failure to compromise. “If there is no compromise or communication, that’s a sign that the long distance relationship will not work too. If he or she knows the rule that you can go out with others and have friends, you don’t feel guilty because you are still having the college experience but still honoring the relationship.”
Jasmine Whiting, a sophomore chemistry major from Milwaukee, Wisconsin was also in a long distance relationship her freshman year at Howard. “My relationship worked while we were apart, but when we reunited in the summer, I realized that I had grew apart from him,” she says. “For some reasons things weren’t the same so I broke up with him before we went back to school this semester.” Whiting went to Howard while her boyfriend stayed in Milwaukee and attended community college.
“Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself. If you are going down two separate paths, then it is less likely that it will work out,” says Black. Black had a similar situation when she was an undergraduate student at Meredith College, in Raleigh, North Carolina and her boyfriend stayed home and began working. “Because of the different paths our lives had taken the relationship didn’t work.”
According to Will It Ever End, a study published in the Communication Quarterly in 2007 by Katheryn C. Maguire, 25-50% of college student relationships can be classified as long distance. The study showed that the success of long distance relationships in college is determined by whether the couple has a positive or negative perception of the future of the relationship and whether or not they will reunite again. For college students, chances of being in a long distance relationship are greater because they are constantly relocating from their hometowns to their schools, completing internships in all parts of the country, and studying abroad internationally. Because of this relationships can be difficult and are often put on the back burner, and as a result some students just don‘t believe in them.
“It is definitely possible. Just remember you have to set expectations, keep communications up, and establish when you guys are going to see each other. Be willing to compromise and realize that relationships can constantly change,” says LaDawn Black.
Nevertheless, Hansley has decided to avoid long distance drama and exercise more caution next time around. “Our friendship foundation saved our friendship at the end. It was hard. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” says Hansley. “Stay away from long distance relationships.”