Relationships can be difficult enough when a couple lives in the same city, but adding more than 2,000 miles in between can make the effort to stay together even more challenging.
Summer is a common time of the year for student couples to separate. Many students choose to stay in East Lansing to take a few summer classes, while others choose to travel for internships, study abroad or head back to their hometowns.
After becoming used to spending so much time with the same person during the school year, separating during the summer may come as a shock.
While any number of couples deal with living in different states during the summer, special education senior Manisha Manchanda, who is an international student from Bangkok, Thailand, had to say a more far-flung goodbye as her boyfriend headed home to Mombasa, Kenya.
Manchanda chose to stay in East Lansing for the first session of summer classes, and as soon as she heads home to Bangkok for the second half of the summer her boyfriend will be returning to the United States.
“The most difficult part(s) about a summer long-distance relationship (are) time difference and busy schedules,” Manchanda said. “Not being able to go to that one person anytime I want and tell him the little things that happened during the day — it’s like losing a best friend for the summer.”
Manchanda also said communicating is difficult with an eight hour time difference.
“Other than texting, we only talk a few times a week because when I’m done with class, it’s usually bedtime for him,” she said.
Despite the difficulties, the couple learned how to deal with distance from previous experiences.
“Last summer was harder ... because we hadn’t gained each other’s trust at that point, but I don’t think that was an issue on my part this summer,” Manchanda said.
While time apart is difficult, Manchanda keeps a positive outlook on the situation.
“(Our) relationship is definitely benefiting from the distance,” Manchanda said. “It definitely makes you stronger as a couple because you learn to be independent, you have the time apart to reflect on yourself and you definitely learn to trust your significant other.”
Separate states of love
Although psychology senior Chelsea Bagby and computer science senior Luke Pritchett remain in the same country as he interns with Amazon in Seattle, Washington, this summer, their time apart isn’t any easier than those who are countries away.
“I feel as if it is harder when I am celebrating an achievement and not having Chelsea here,” Pritchett said. “The best part of a relationship is being able to celebrate one another’s success, and having to explain excitement over the phone, as opposed to in person, just isn’t the same.”
Bagby said even if she could, she wouldn’t change their time spent apart simply because she knows Pritchett is pursuing an experience of a lifetime.
“I would choose him being exactly where he is right now because he loves the West Coast,” Bagby said. “He is working for one of the best companies in the country for his major. The opportunities that he is experiencing in Seattle (are) not available in Michigan.”
Although many couples are dealing with separation over the summer, some sweet reunions happen as well. Alumni Missy Sebring and Jordan Roth finally reunited Saturday after a year of separation.
Roth moved to Krakow, Poland for a leadership development program with technology company Delphi while Sebring finished her last year at MSU.
Sebring said out of the entire year Roth was gone, they only saw each other three times — her birthday in October, Christmas and her graduation.
After making it through the year, Roth and Sebring are in the process of moving to Indianapolis together.
Sebring said trust was a huge factor in making their long-distance relationship work.
“For us, it was a sure thing,” Sebring said. “We didn’t have any problems with trust for the whole year.”
Sebring isn’t alone in thinking trust is key to a successful long-distance relationship.
“The important thing, if you’re going to give long-distance a try, is to trust the other person completely,” Roth said. “Once one of the people start missing opportunities (such as) nights out or meeting people, the relationship will seem less and less desirable, and likely fall into a downward spiral.”
Although the time apart was a challenge, Sebring thinks the distance benefited their relationship.
“I would not change anything,” Sebring said. “This has been the most incredible experience for him and he wasn’t a distraction during my school year.”
Sebring noted the importance of loyalty and perseverance in making a long-distance relationship work.
“I think you just need to decide if this person is worth it or not,” she said. “You have to let your insecurities go and trust that they won’t hurt you and you won’t hurt them, and if it’s meant to be, then it’ll happen.”
In an effort to deal with the separation, Sebring also recommends looking forward to the times you will get to see that person again.
Sebring said her coping mechanisms paid off after she and Roth made it through the year.
“I’m excited for him to come home Saturday and move to Indianapolis together!” Sebring said.