Attending college was a choice that many of us made in order to advance our education and pursue our passions. While many people succinctly map out their journey to an undergraduate degree and focus on their goals with tunnel vision, there are always variables that happen along the way, hindering these missions. Whether it be an extra hard class or a mid-youth crisis, everyone struggles over a various number of speed bumps throughout their academic careers.
However, one struggle that many young dreamers never see coming — or at least probably never think will be as taxing as it can be — is falling in love. Yes, love is beautiful and powerful, but it’s tragic and challenging, and many of us college-aged go-getters have accidentally fallen into it.
I over-dramatize the matter a little bit, I know, but it’s not hard to recognize that there are some aspects of relationships that don’t come easily. Within college relationships specifically, there are some unique qualifiers that are rudely added on. It’s often difficult to balance academic loads with all the drama of a relationship, and it’s even more challenging when you try to juggle old friendships with new ones, family life, clubs, jobs — the list goes on.
Another unique strain on college courtships is the constant threat of distance. Students come from all over the country and the world to study at the University, and every summer break, many couples are torn apart as they crawl back to their childhood homes. At the end of it all, too, many college couples say goodbye to each other for the last time when they wave goodbye to Grounds.
All that is why falling in love at this time in our lives is so hard and why many of us avoid it — we recognize the struggles built into college relationships. But for those of us who do accidentally fall in love, we brace for impact. We try our best to balance everything we have to do, we drive long hours or fall asleep on FaceTime to stay attached to our partners over the heat of the summer — at the same time, we keep in mind that there may be an expiration date to all of it.
Preparing for the worst but hoping for the best is what young adults have grown to accept, but never in a million years could college couples ever have prepared for the challenges presented by the novel coronavirus.
Those bittersweet days of summer have been extended twofold so that there’s nothing sweet about them anymore. Partners are locked up in their houses like Romeo and Juliet, separated by ungodly space and a seemingly never-ending timeline. We had signed up for losing physical touch for three months, not five — or maybe even more.
Before the ease of technology, when one was forced to leave their lover, they could leave a picture of their face in a locket as a parting keepsake or send letters of endearment to keep their love alive. At least now couples are able to hang on to each other by the sight of a smile from a phone, lighting up a dark night in a bedroom.
In a way, it almost seems like it would be easier to date this way — the distractions of clubs and any other large social events are gone. Now, we can spend all hours of the night snuggled up next to our phones, typing our hearts out and sending kisses through Snapchat for months on end.
And isn’t that just so middle school? As much as we would all like to say that staying in touch electronically is the same as holding a partner’s hand, the sparks and the butterflies are simply not the same. It’s something, but it doesn’t feel like enough. A million lovers are just dying to be in the arms of their significant other.
This indefinite long-distance dating is not what any of us signed on for. Dating has never been easy for us, but now the whole situation just got a lot more complicated.
But alas, one must do what one must do. There are bigger problems in the world than the struggling love life of some tired and lonely college kids. If staying miles apart from our partners and staying six feet apart from everyone else means we are working towards a healthier world, that is the price we have to be willing to pay.
So to all the love birds torn apart by the times — search for any way to find hope and the strength to hang on. I know it was hard before and feels even more impossible now, but we’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel and the physical faces of our partners soon enough. Make the most of every text and call because for now, a love online is all we’ve got.