NYU First-Years Go the Distance for Love

Many first-years come to college without their significant other. Here's what it's like keeping up a long-distance relationship.

Illustration by Rachel Buigas-Lopez

“Yeah, MTV wanted me.”

That’s what I jokingly tell everyone when they bombard with me with questions about how I was almost cast in the production of a new show on MTV about long-distance relationships. When the producer reached out to me after I applied on a whim, I was shocked, amazed, in awe. I imagined having a crew follow me around a couple times a week, wondering if they would struggle with too much footage of me at Bobst — my second home.

My long-distance boyfriend who lives in California also agreed that it would be a wild experience, but his wariness made me realize the reality of the fighting and dramatization that would evidently result. And when I told him that the producer said it would be Jersey Shore-esque that was the final straw. I texted the producer back with my regrets.

MTV got me thinking — if my long-distance relationship is already in a precarious state, what would being on a reality show do to it? And what’s this fascination with long-distance relationships?

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People have this preconceived notion that long distance is the death of all relationships, that those who are willing to go the distance are eventually going to get wrapped up in college life, forget their significant other and either grow so distant that the person becomes a stranger, or worse, someone insignificant enough to be cheated on.

For Stern first-year Maria Mora, long-distance is the only thing she and her boyfriend have known — they’ve been doing long-distance for three years. They met through direct messaging on Twitter, Mora living in Florida while he was in North Carolina. While they haven’t met in person yet, she said he’s planning to visit New York soon. “He won’t tell me yet,” Mora said. “He wants it to be a surprise.”

Even though it has worked out for Mora for three years, there are still long-distance skeptics out there. And when everyone else has such little faith in your relationship, you and your partner can only find consolation in each other and other long-distance couples. Meeting other students in long-distance relationships, we all agreed that the physical separation is the hardest part.

“I see people holding hands in the streets, and I think ‘damn, I miss him,’” Yesenia Leon, an LS first-year whose boyfriend lives in Hawaii, said. “Cuddling in this weather — definitely miss that!” Cuffing season? Sure, but try imagining a 7,000 miles-long handcuff chain.

If physical distance separates a couple, communication via technology obviously becomes a priority, with scheduled phone calls and FaceTiming between couples ranging from five times a week to five times a day.

We live in a time period that you can’t really miss people,” LS first-year Matt Davis said about missing his girlfriend Kristina, who lives eight hours away.

Davis doesn’t take a single second with his girlfriend for granted and always tries to come up with ways to show her how much she’s missed. I wrote her a Shakespearean sonnet for the last time she came down to visit me,” Davis said. “It took several hours because of the iambic pentameter and the rhyming, but I liked doing it because it was a nice gesture to do for her while being a way to stretch my writing muscles.”

Material gifts, like jewelry, are also something long-distance couples are using to keep their significant other closer. “Before I left, my going away present was a bond touch bracelet,” Leon said. “It’s a bracelet we both have. If you tap on it and buzz it — we each get to select a color and we’re each other’s partners on the app — as long as the app is open on your phone, any vibrations I make on my bracelet he’ll feel and my color will show.”

Perhaps the most special and memorable act, however, is visiting each other. After all, every painful goodbye is followed by an amazing hello.

“Nothing describes seeing her in Penn Station for the first time in two months, and walking up and kissing her again after missing that feeling for so long,” Davis said.

Those in long-distance relationships often get the question of why they even tried long distance in the first place and the answer was usually along the lines of what’s to come. Many saw their significant other as someone they could have a potential future with, which is why they were all willing to commit to someone thousands of miles away.

Before cynics step on young hearts that belong to someone far away, consider that there is something to be learned from those in these romances — trust, independence and the value of finding someone who means so much that the distance comes to mean little.

Email Anna de la Rosa at [email protected]

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