Cyberspace holds relationships together, no matter the distance

Photo illustration By Meagan Downing | Photographer

By Robyn Sanders

With the help of modern technology, many student relationships are held together across long distances with date nights being replaced by phone calls or Skype sessions.

For some Baylor students, a Skype date is the only way they can see their significant other every day.

Spicewood senior Brie Daniels and her fiance, Jad Ghaleb, have been together for nearly two and a half years. They got engaged last summer, but are 6,980 miles apart because he lives in Lebanon.

Following Daniels’ graduation from Baylor in May, she will move to Lebanon, where they will have the wedding.

Despite the potentially intimidating factor of moving to the opposite side of the globe, Daniels said she is not anxious about any of the cultural differences.

“They really all excite me,” Daniels said.

But for the past two years, Daniels has only been able to visit her fiance during the summer.

Corpus Christi senior Abigail Pitzer is able to see her long-distance fiance only slightly more often than Daniels.

Pitzer’s fiance, Nick Youngstrom, attends Hillsdale College in Michigan, but is currently living in Washington, D.C., and working as an intern at the Capitol.

They visit each other only during the summer and Christmas holidays, but she was also able to visit him during spring break in March, when he proposed.

Now they are planning a wedding from opposite sides of the country.

The couple met in 2008 at Summit Ministries, a youth leadership seminar in Colorado, and started dating a few months afterward.

For the last three years, they have developed their relationship through Skype and phone calls.

To maintain their relationship, they stay in constant contact in lieu of being able to go on dates, Pitzer said.

“Any time we want to spend time together, it pretty much has to be spent talking,” Pitzer said. “We text most of the day and Skype for at least an hour every day and call to say goodnight.”

Morro Bay, Calif., senior Jonathan Coss makes daily conversations with his long-distance girlfriend a priority as well, thanks to phone calls and video chats.

“We’re able to connect every night before we go to bed,” Coss said.

Coss got to know his girlfriend, Robin Lindsey, on a mission trip to Morocco after his sophomore year at Baylor, and they started dating six months ago.

She is studying nursing at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas.

“She had tons of ridiculously awesome qualities,” Coss said. “We started dating knowing it was going to be long-distance.”

Coss said they’ve been able to see each other every weekend, and because they live in different places, they have two communities of friends to keep up with, in addition to maintaining their own relationship.

“Just like any relationship, it takes time and energy,” Coss said. “We’re very intentional in honoring and valuing our friends.”

Bellaire senior Mattie Marion is no stranger balancing friendships and a relationship.

She and her boyfriend have known each other since they were 4 years old.

The couple dated for a few years while they were in high school, and then started dating again in March 2010.

He graduated from Texas Christian University last year and now lives in Houston. Marion said they see each other about two weekends every month; on weekends when he comes to visit, she makes him her priority.

“There’s definitely been weekends where I’ve not hung out with friends because it’s my one chance to see him,” Marion said. “But it’s nice when I get to spend time with my friends during the week, and then I’ll get to really focus on hanging out with him whenever he gets to come up.”

Pitzer said being in a relationship at all affects your social life, and that is even truer with a long-distance relationship.

“Your social life in general is affected when you’re in a relationship because you’re no longer looking for a significant other,” Pitzer said. “It requires time separate of your social life to have a long-distance relationship, and they can’t really intermix, therefore it takes time away from your daily social life. You have to spend time either on the phone or on Skype.”

Daniels said she and her fiance still make communication a huge priority, even though Lebanon is eight hours ahead of Waco, and that the biggest challenge in a long-distance relationship is depending on Skype to spend time with him.

“There’s times when I actually hate Skype because I can see him but I can’t hug him, and it’s really frustrating,” Daniels said.

Although Coss and his fiance are able to see each other on weekends, Coss said there are times during the week that he has a free moment he wishes he could spend with his girlfriend, or times when she’s going through a rough time and he wishes he could be there for her.

“The biggest challenge is a longing to see her,” Coss said. “I just trust the Lord to be there and to comfort her.”

For Marion, good communication means making her boyfriend a priority while she’s talking to him.

“Whenever I’m talking to him, I’m not watching TV, or on the computer or like having a side-conversation with somebody else,” Marion said.

Whether the distance to their significant other is a few hundred miles, or a few thousand, daily phone calls and video chats help to close the distance for all four couples.

“Technology is the best,” Coss said. “I can’t imagine the letter-writing days.”