If your long-distance relationship with your high school honey seems to be falling apart, prepare yourself for Thanksgiving break. You might experience the “Turkey Dump.”
It starts off with the hope that you can keep things going despite the distance. However, these relationships can be near impossible to maintain by the time Thanksgiving rolls around and both parties have gotten a taste of college life.
This was the case with Communication sophomore Stacey Lurie, who tried to keep her long distance relationship alive fall of her freshman year. She experienced the Turkey Dump firsthand. “I can’t really do the long-distance thing,” her boyfriend told her upon returning home.
Looking back, Lurie realizes the opportunities her originally unwanted breakup allowed her, and the importance of taking time in college to put yourself first and grow into your own person.
Lurie wasn’t unique in wanting to make her LDR work. With Skype, Facebook chat and BlackBerry messaging, keeping in touch seems simple. It can appear to be a whole lot easier than trying to find someone new while getting accustomed to college life. Plus, you might actually still love — or at least love the idea — of your boyfriend or girlfriend from home.
Many pre-college romantic relationships end during the freshman year of college. While some learn how to make their LDR work and still lead perfectly happy lives in college, separation is a primary source of difficulty that can damage or end it, particularly for those already anxious about the relationship, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research.
Planning visits can also cause added stress. For most like Lurie, whose boyfriend attended school in New York, it’s just not plausible to jet set across the country every month to see each other.
Add to that the workload of Northwestern and the temptation of finding someone else close by to keep you warm at night and you’ve got the combination for a great big mess come Thanksgiving break. And I’m not just talking about gravy and stuffing.
While some proponents of LDRs might argue the centuries-old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” a study published in the College Student Journal showed that over 40 percent of college students in LDRs believed “out of sight out of mind” to hold true.
This was the case with Sue Kulkarni, McCormick sophomore, who decided to end things with her long distance boyfriend last fall, after deciding she wanted to see what college was like solo.
“I felt like I was carrying a backpack every time I went out. It was an awkward thing in the back of my mind,” Kulkarni says. Going out proved to be difficult for the then freshman when she realized there were certain things her friends could do that she couldn’t.
There are a select few LDRs that are strong enough to uphold the drama that college brings. But the reality is, LDRs are almost impossible to keep up unless each person is totally dedicated and willing to “forgive unforgivable things,” in the words of Kulkarni. Often, the same issues resurface that couples can’t get past, especially if one person thinks the relationship is more “open” than the other.
If you’re a freshman still trying to make your LDR work, don’t be surprised to find upon coming home that what you had before has fizzled or you’ve grown apart. “People in college change a lot,” Lurie says. “When you come back and see each other, it may not be the same person you fell in love with.”
Lurie advises girls in her situation to stay positive. “You’re in a whole new world that doesn’t involve him, so take advantage,” Lurie says.