Monday, May 25

The Quad: Long-distance relationships face the ‘turkey drop’ this Thanksgiving

(QingQing Su)

When the first quarter of college rolls around in September, most coupled up freshmen, after spending a marvelous last summer in the arms of their boyfriends and girlfriends from different parts of the country or the world, are forced to part ways.

To some people, breaking up with their high school sweethearts is the only option, considering the array of choices college has to offer. With a new life filled with new people and adventures, they do not want to be tied down. On the other hand, there are those who, madly in love with each other, dream of making a long-distance relationship work. With promises of undying love and little notes, trinkets, photos and memories packed into one suitcase, they move to college, trying their best to stay loyal and beat the odds.

At UCLA, I have seen people stay up until 5 a.m. FaceTime-ing their partners, calling and texting them every chance they get, trying to find the cheapest tickets to visit them and making drunken calls to them after a night of partying, desperately trying to strike a balance between erratic time differences and schedules. Avvalzameer Bhatia, a first-year mathematics/economics student who is in a long-distance relationship with her high school boyfriend at Pennsylvania State University, said that she and her boyfriend have managed to make it work.

“My boyfriend is here to visit me for Thanksgiving. All the problems that it causes in the first few months you’re apart seem so tiny when you’re with your significant other,” Bhatia said. “It’s hard and it will be hard, but I guess that’s what makes it worth it.”

However, no matter how much one tries to overcome these hurdles, there can come a point when one just cannot juggle so many things. College is tough, and there are tons of things to handle – studying, extracurriculars, social life. Keeping up with someone who is primarily a virtual presence in your life is hard. We may know we have their unconditional love and support, but it can be difficult to feel completely certain. Soon enough the feelings of insecurity, jealousy, inadequacy and loneliness start to creep in. We fight, argue and shout, with no ability to kiss and makeup. With the Thanksgiving weekend approaching, one half of the couple may be rethinking the relationship they’re in. When it comes time to talk in person, they may reach the conclusion that it is, in fact, time to drop the turkey.

The turkey drop, also known as the turkey dump, or “Dumpsgiving,” is a phenomenon in which college students return home for Thanksgiving break and break up with their high school sweethearts, having undergone drastic changes in perspective and identity in the first few months of college. Statistics suggest that 32.5 percent of all long-distance relationships are college relationships, and most of them end after three and a half months of being away, which is around the time of Thanksgiving.

There is always a feeling of uncertainty with such relationships. The distance makes everything more complicated. The fights and misunderstandings are tenfold and arguments replace conversations. One can never be sure when they are going to see their partners, with the average number of times couples visit each other is about once a month.

Specifically talking about college students, at 18, we are lost and dazed, open to trying out new things, yet not ready to let go of previous attachments. Compared to someone in a long-distance relationship when they’re older, for college students it’s a mayhem of confusion and change. Older people are more mature and understanding, with a stronger will to make things work out, but no matter what the age, people are allowed the time to figure out what they want and actually pursue it.

Breaking up might not turn out to be such a bad idea. One can fully make use of the time they would have previously spent trying to coordinate with their significant others. Nidhi Bhanu, a first-year Design | Media Arts student, beat the turkey drop to a few weeks.

“I was very upset when my relationship did not work, but I am glad that I gave it a shot and I don’t regret it,” she said. “I’m grateful for all the memories we shared together. Breakups can be tough but I’ve come out of it happily knowing that the best four years of my life are still ahead of me at UCLA.”

If it doesn’t feel right, if the bliss has turned to monotony and feels like a forced effort, then it is not worth carrying on. You may love your partner and don’t want to hurt them, but you and your happiness always come first. And hey, there is a delicious Thanksgiving feast, and Black Friday retail therapy awaiting you to heal that broken heart.

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