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Sex and the SafeRide

The LDR

By Daniel Chai
COLUMNIST

“My boyfriend is 500 miles away and I’m afraid he might cheat on me.”

There’s no question that a long distance relationship can be rough. I’ve been through one myself, and it’s not exactly a walk in the park. Knowing this, why do people still get themselves into this increasingly common situation?

Well, in college, it’s simple. Most of the time you’ll try to keep the flame burning as long as possible from a relationship you’ve carried over from high school. In other cases, you’ve met someone from out of town who likes you and doesn’t realize that you’re a total loser, even at MIT.

Also, with the invention of the Internet -- and subsequently, Friendster -- meeting new people from halfway across the world isn’t as hard as boarding the Mayflower and setting off for lands unknown anymore.

Every relationship has its pitfalls; it just so happens that certain types of them have more, especially the LDR. The LDR has all of the limitations of a regular relationship with fewer of the benefits.

First, there’s no actual human interaction. You can’t go to the movies together, you can’t go to dinner together, and you can’t stroll down the Infinite making everyone else jealous together. Also, no actual human interaction means no actual sex.

Let’s face it, phone sex just doesn’t count. Which brings us to our next point: all the interaction you’re going to get is over the phone or AIM. The best you can hope for is phone sex while your roommate has gone for a shower. The worst comes in the form of a long, dragged-out argument that costs you $250 on your cell phone bill.

And for all you instant messengers out there, I don’t care how much you’re online, you can’t convey how happy, angry, or sad you are in one of those emoticons.

And the last pitfall? You’re stuck in the middle of a city densely populated with single college students with whom you can’t hook-up because you’re taken by someone who lives in Fiji.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t date someone from Fiji; it’s just going to take a lot more work and commitment. If you want to make an LDR work, then you’re going to have to follow some of these rules:

1. Trust him or leave him.

If you think he’s going to cheat on you, why the hell are you still with him? And besides, there’s no guarantee that he’d be faithful even if you were living together. Either stop wasting your time worrying about it, or leave him for someone closer.

2. Resist the urge.

It’s not exactly the healthiest thing for a relationship if you go cheating on your significant other. Actually, that’s the worst thing you could do.

3. Never let her hang up angry.

If she goes crying to her best guy friend about you and they end up in bed together, well, you’re SOL. If she goes crying to her best female friend and they end up in bed together, play your cards right and you could be a very lucky man.

4. Frequent visits are good.

Even though they’re good, they’re also expensive and time-consuming. Unless your last name can be found on one of the buildings on campus, making frequent trips to another time zone can end up costing a lot more than a UROP can afford.

5. Mutually understand.

You both need to know where you think the relationship is going, what the boundaries are, and what you’re trying to get out of it. Ambiguity should be left to those who can at least see each other on a regular basis.

So my advice comes down to this: if you’re in an LDR, stick with it as long as it’s worth it, and don’t sleep with other people. Then again, that’s applicable to all relationships.

If you’re not in an LDR, you should probably look into dating someone in the same area code. Unless your name is Ludacris.

Daniel Chai is a pseudonymous male undergraduate student at MIT who writes a weekly column about sex and dating in college from a guy’s perspective. Questions or comments? You can contact him at danielchai@mit.edu.