Adapted from a recently submitted letter:
My girlfriend is studying abroad this semester, and it’s already causing me some stress. When we discussed doing long distance we were both all for it, neither of us had any worries about commitment or anything like that, but now that she’s gone I feel constantly sad and alone. I don’t really have any close friends at Olaf besides my girlfriend, so the time I would usually spend with her I spend by myself. We agreed not to Facetime or text too often so we had more to talk about when we did, but I’ve never felt as lonely as I do now, and I’m not sure how to change that. What should I do?
First of all, congratulations on having an incredibly well-adjusted relationship. Not many people would be able to go into a period of long-distance without a little bit of anxiety about the effect of that distance. And to avoid the temptation of wanting to spend every free moment on Facetime, or messaging? That’s rare, especially in this day and age and among our peers. That’s a baseline you can always revisit when you’re feeling lonely – there are relationships in your life that are solid and that you can rely on, even if you can’t every day. Also, it gives you a reason to look forward to speaking to eachother when you do.
It sounds to me though, like you have a more pressing issue at hand with regards to your friends. It’s wonderful that you and your girlfriend like to spend so much time together, but it is also understandable why this separation would cause so much anxiety. To put it bluntly, a good relationship isn’t all consuming – you need others that exist around it that are important in their own right for a relationship to function well.
That being said, there’s a wonderful opportunity here to establish the friendships you yourself admit you lack. They are important in their own right, and can exist solely for you, not for the sake of your relationship, though good friendships will ultimately result in a stronger romantic relationship as well. You seem like a loyal person based off what you’ve written – use that loyalty in the friendships you build this semester, and you will rediscover the parts of yourself that originally helped bring you and your girlfriend together along the way.
Having trouble navigating the St. Olaf dating scene? Need help finding a date? Got more dates than you can handle? Or have a response to this week’s column? E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe one of our love columnists will answer them in next week’s issue. All submitted questions will remain anonymous.