I’m in a long-distance relationship — and I’m happy with it. Now, before the three of you that read this column start flooding my inbox with sympathies and slurs, allow me to explain.
If there’s one thing those of us at the University find more stupid than midterms and Michigan State students, it’s long-distance relationships. Upperclassmen, with their worldly wisdom and higher alcohol tolerance, scoff at freshman who are still caught up in high school relationships. The criticisms are familiar: “You’re too afraid to move on. Train tickets are expensive. Eventually someone’s going to want to get laid.”
And I understand the objections. Maintaining a relationship in a completely new town is already difficult enough. Factor in a few extra hundred miles and suddenly things can become overwhelming.
Overwhelming, however, doesn’t mean impossible. Once I got used to the idea of being drooled on by toothless men on my bus rides between Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, I started to realize that long-distance relationships may be not be as abhorrent as those sagely upperclassmen think.
An immediate benefit of being far away from your significant other is that you are, in fact, far away from your significant other. There seems to be this perception that a long-distance relationship means hours huddled up in your dorm room, blabbering about the bagel you had for breakfast and the difficulties in picking out a schmear.
Truth be told, dear readers, this constant state of incoherent and annoying chatter is merely a misconception. The beauty of long-distance love is that you really don’t need to spend time with your significant other. I don’t have to spend my time going on awkward morning-after dates at Wendy’s in the Union, or devote hours to cuddling and drawing hearts all over my boyfriend’s econ notes. Instead, I get to do what I cherish most — eat and watch TV.
“But what about those dirty primal instincts?” the dissenter will argue. “Eventually those will kick in.” Perhaps it’ll be the back issues of Cosmopolitan magazine, or maybe the latest episode of “Degrassi” — whatever it may be, something will jumpstart the old sex drive. And unless you’re willing to cheat or heed Cosmo’s advice and partake in some bizarre activities that make me fairly uncomfortable, you’re screwed (or not so much, depending on your interpretation of the word).
However, most of us really don’t travel via covered wagon these days. It’s not that hard to get from point A to point B when those, uh, needs kick in. You know that old phrase, “distance makes the heart grow fonder”? I don’t know about all that, but there is sufficient evidence that distance does make the nooky better and less dramatic. Long-distancers never have those awkward mornings where you somehow wake up in a floor-mate’s bed. We never have to suffer through the walk of shame, heading to class in an oversized t-shirt and a pair of too-large basketball shorts. Simply put, you never have to start a story with, “Last night was such a mistake — he was an OSU fan!” Your relationship becomes a routine of sharing only the most important details of your day, followed by weekend whoopee. And for someone as emotionally calloused as I am, it really doesn’t get any better.
Furthermore, there’s an aspect even dirtier than sex that makes long-distance a dream: my hygiene habits. I’ve seen girls who not only leave for their 9 a.m. class on time, but actually get up early to gussy up for it. Long-distancers, besides the few with “self-respect” or whatever, really don’t feel the same need to look cute for lecture. If you aren’t looking to shack up or, you know, start a relationship, there really isn’t a reason to get all fussy and gussy.
Instead, I get the extreme pleasure of rolling out of bed wearing what I wore the last three days while sporting a hairdo that puts Alfalfa from “The Little Rascals” to shame. Do I care that my sweatshirt is covered in pudding stains? Of course not. Am I embarrassed when I enter my philosophy discussion wearing my headgear? Not at all. I take pride in my ability to look completely unattractive during the school week. It’s feminism. Well, it’s lazy feminism. Actually, it might not be feminism at all. Regardless, it makes it a whole lot easier to feel less guilty when I don’t brush my hair for days on end.
So yes, I am in a long-distance relationship. And you know what? I do see it outlasting Thanksgiving break, thank you very much, for two main reasons: First, I truly care about my boyfriend. Second — and perhaps most importantly — after this column runs, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will ever ask me out again.
Melanie Kruvelis can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.