Opinion: Long-Distance Relationship Turns Boyfriend Into Flat Stanley


Emma Sherrell

My boyfriend during one of the two hour face times that keep our relationship alive.

Do you remember Flat Stanley? You probably were 6 when you were attached at the hip with him. But I am 21, and in a relationship a Flat Stanley.

I am in a long-distance relationship my boyfriend, and we have been dating for a little under a year. Sadly, he lives in my hometown of Bellevue, Washington. For the past two and a half months that I have been at school, he has existed primarily in my phone or computer over texts and FaceTime calls or the surprise gifts in the mail. I feel like I’m in a relationship with my phone, my computer or a 2D version of my boyfriend, hence calling him Flat Stanley.

While I call him Flat Stanley as a joke, and with love, there is a hard truth to it. Instead of a hug and a kiss at the end of the day, it is texts and FaceTime calls.

I hate long-distance relationships. In an ideal world, I would be able to finish my college career, growing and maturing alongside my boyfriend. But I have learned a lot not only about myself but also about my boyfriend and our relationship. I have learned that we are compatible, we have little tiffs here and there, but are able to make it through with good communication and a FaceTime call. I have learned that he’s truly into me, not just the physical aspects of a relationship. He’s obviously invested in this relationship and endures the 2-hour video calls.

Most days I feel like I am the only one going through long-distance, even though our story is very similar to a lot of couples our age. I fell in love with my boyfriend back home, during the pandemic, and came back to in-person school this fall at Chaminade. While we were both nervous about the separation, breaking up was not an option.

Many people do long-distance successfully. There is proof up and down on my “for you” page on TikTok. Somehow, when it’s someone else’s relationship, it’s cute to watch them count down to their next meeting … in four months. Social media highlights the beautiful, fun aspects of being together and leaves out the lonely days and the missing each other.

Not to mention, movies romanticize long-distance. The split screen texting scenes and the hour drive to each other that equals “long-distance.” When for me, long-distance are lonely, six-hour flights from the middle of the ocean to see one another for four days together after spending a month apart. There is very little room for the spontaneity of a normal relationship.

Taking our relationship into long-distance has presented us with a lot of challenges that were unforeseen when I hopped on a plane and left my boyfriend for the first time the second week of August. For example, going to college and being away from home was a great way for me to grow up and become the person I have always wanted to be. But in a long-distance relationship where you also want to grow as a couple, it can be difficult to balance growing yourself and growing as a couple without the ability to experience things together.

Recently I had the rare opportunity to see him two weekends in a row. The reality of being with him, in person, took some getting used to and felt like a dream I would wake up from, at first. We are both so used to being apart that being together, now, is odd. This being said, me and my Flat Stanley boyfriend are very happy, even if this is what our relationship looks like for the next six months. I guess I will continue to count down the days till I see my Flat Stanley again.