Video chat romances a new norm for college students

Dana Cohen, a sophomore studying pre-medicine at Emory University, and her boyfriend of four months, Ryan, make “spur-of-the-moment” plans to meet at Cohen’s on-campus suite. Cohen enters her room, turns on her laptop and waits for Ryan to show up – on her computer screen.  

Almost 900 miles separate Cohen and her New York-based boyfriend, but they see each other two times per week by using an online video chat program.  

“It can get lonely,” Cohen admitted about her long-distance romance.  

But Cohen is definitely not alone.  

Approximately 4.4 million college students are in a long-distance relationship, according to the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships. 

Furthermore, more than one in four college students in the United States will be in a long-distance relationship at some point during college, reported the Journal of College Student Development.  

Many students say that video chatting is the most popular form of communication between long-distance couples in college, along with constant text messaging and frequent phone calls. 

“A lot of my friends in long-distance relationships use ,” said Streeter Phillips, a junior studying art and photography at Yale University. Phillips gave his ex-girlfriend a camera so they could conduct video-chat sessions and “say hi whenever.”

“Actually, in the middle of class I’ve seen people during a lecture. It’s kind of odd.”  

So how does being in a long-distance relationship affect an individual’s overall college experience?

“It hasn’t really affected my academics or any of that, but it does make me feel like I have someone to fall back on,” Cohen said. “If I ever miss him and feel bad when I see other couples together, at least I know I have someone and I don’t have to worry about it.”

Hannah Goldman, a sophomore studying pre-medicine at Stony Brook University, said her long-distance relationship can “put her in a worse mood” and make her “a little upset.”

“It’s just hard realizing that I can’t have both things at once – college life and my boyfriend,” she said. “It definitely occupies your mind all the time. I can go out and have fun but I’m still thinking about him.” 

Gregory Guldner, the director and founder of the Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, has said long-distance couples may experience mild depression and worry more about affairs than geographically close couples, but adds that long-distance lovebirds are no more likely to have an affair or break up than a couple that lives close to each other.  

When The Miami Hurricane surveyed 30 University of Miami students, 24 of them said they are currently in a long-distance relationship or have been in one in the past.   

Alabama native Thomas Fugard, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, says he has been able to maintain a happy long-distance relationship for four years by having a mutual feeling of trust and independence between him and his girlfriend, who lives in Tampa.  

“[We] still go out [with friends] and meet new people – both boys and girls,” Fugard said. “Trust is a big issue with most long-distance relationships, and I think we both have that. 

Nina Ruggiero and Ramon Galiana contributed to this article.