As I mentioned in my initial blog post, I’m from California, which is where I left my lovely boyfriend of 5 months. After a summer of being practically attached at the hip, this distance has been pretty excruciating. It’s 2,719 miles between his college and mine, and to be quite honest, it’s taking a toll on me. Considering the fact that I find it extremely difficult to get him off my mind, I thought I would pick a topic relating to the frustration of a long distance relationships. What I want to talk about is how important it really is to be physical in a relationship; and no, I’m not talking about sex. Just the simple, enjoyable things that we take for granted everyday. Being able to hold your partners hand whenever you please. Being able to reach out and rub their back if they’re upset. Cuddling while watching a movie, feeling safe and happy. When you’re so used to having these things in your daily life, it’s quite the shock to go without them. Scientifically speaking, the touch of a loved one has a ton of health benefits. Firstly, it makes us happier. According to this article, “when a person is physically close to someone, his or her body releases oxytocin, another “happy chemical” that contributes to us cultivating and maintaining intimate, healthy relationships. A hand hold, a snuggle, a hug — all of these actions supposedly increase levels of oxytocin.” They state that several studies have pointed out oxytocin’s ability to promote “feelings of devotion, trust, and bonding” between people. The release of this chemical in the body obviously doesn’t happen through a phone call, text message, or video chat. This is a factor of relationships what long distance couples are lacking and often longing for.
Secondly, skin-to-skin contact has also been shown to lower levels of stress and anxiety. This article states that “skin-on-skin contact signals your adrenal glands to cease excessive amounts of cortisol production, the aforementioned stress hormone.” A very interesting study created by professor James Coan was held at the University of Virginia proving this statement to be correct. “While administering MRIs, he warned 16 married women that they might “experience shock.” Each woman’s state of anxiety was instantly illuminated in the MRI scans. When their husbands held their hands, the ladies grew even more relaxed.” The workload of college is extremely stressful, and although in a long distance relationship you can still talk to your partner, it doesn’t have the same calming psychological effects as skin-to-skin contact does.
So what are the pro’s, if any, of being in a long distance relationship? As reported by businessinsider.com, “as many as half of U.S college students are in long distance relationships.” So it can’t be all that bad, right? The article goes on to explain that “Scientific studies show that couples in long-distance relationships can be equally, if not more, satisfied as geographically-close couples. Not only that, long-distance couples are more likely to share meaningful thoughts and feelings, and therefore, experience a deeper sense of emotional intimacy.” Although it is kind of sad, it may be easier to express 100% honest feelings and opinions over texts than speaking face to face, which can lead to better communication skills between long distance couples. Gate-37.com concludes that “individuals in a long distance relationship would have a higher level of something called “romantic idealization” – thinking about their partners more often, having stronger romantic feelings than a typical couple.” I know in my case, I’m thinking about my boyfriend far more often than when I was home. You don’t really think about someone when you’re with them in person, but when you’re away from them, they don’t leave your mind. Although I’m only 2 weeks into the school year, this is definitely one of the hardest experiences of my life. In saying that, I’m not worried about our relationship whatsoever. When you’re with the right person, all of the struggles and hardships you face for each other are undoubtedly worth it.