Letter from the reporter: Three Kent State females opened up to me about their long-distance relationships. With each of them, I felt how much they cared and how deeply their love reached the partners living miles away. Talking to them made me feel 1) hopeful and 2) uncertain. Love is a hopeful thing, but college relationships are never easy and we all have so much life left to explore. Here are their love stories.
Elisa DeRose, a KSU sophomore studying public health
Elisa DeRose is starting off her spring semester 4,454 miles away from her boyfriend of over four years.
DeRose and her boyfriend, Aaron Walker, have known each other since middle school, but they never spoke until their sophomore year of high school.
Walker asked DeRose to the dance by inviting their friends to his house for a bonfire. As the night progressed, he brought out a cookie cake that said “Homecoming?” on it for DeRose. For the dance, DeRose wore a red dress with sequin embellishments on top and a tulle skirt. The pair had matching white flowers.
DeRose is studying abroad in Florence, Italy, this semester, while Walker is staying in Kent. This isn’t the first time they’ve tried distance overseas. Over the summer, DeRose did a two-week program in China.
“Florence and China were the same in that I wish we could experience these amazing places together,” DeRose told me. “I wish we could’ve walked on the Great Wall together or stare at the Duomo and eat gelato together. He’s my best friend, and it’s hard not sharing my dream of traveling with him. The next time I get on a plane I don’t want to leave him behind.”
Walker didn’t take DeRose to the airport either of the times she left. When she left for China, she flew out of Cleveland, which was too far of a drive from Pittsburgh, where they’re both from. Before Italy, they both agreed it would be best if Walker didn’t come to the airport.
“I would have never gotten on the plane and the TSA agents would’ve seen some very ugly crying,” DeRose said.
The two text almost every day and FaceTime twice a week. DeRose said the hardest part is the time difference and their class schedule. She goes through half her day while Walker is still asleep, and then goes to bed in the middle of his day.
“We do miss each other a lot,” DeRose said. “The amazing thing about him is that he is not resentful of me for leaving, nor does he blame me for leaving. He always tells me that this is my dream and that he couldn’t be happier for me.”
Even though they’re far apart, the couple finds ways to keep the relationship alive. They write letters to each other, and DeRose said she tells Walker multiple times a day that she loves and misses him.
DeRose and Walker have talked about a potential future together. They were each other’s first relationship. They shared an awkward first kiss together, which they look back and laugh at. Walker pecked DeRose’s lips and before she could react, he pulled away, leaving her kissing the air. The two said “I love you” five months into their relationship.
“I mean we’re both only 19 and a lot can happen in a few years, but we’ve made it over four years together ... I have never once questioned whether or not I wanted to be with him or wondered what it would be like to be with someone else,” DeRose said. “He makes me the happiest person in the world and I really don’t think I could find someone else that treats me as well as he does.”
DeRose knows she wants to stay in the Pittsburgh area after she graduates. Walker and she don’t have any solid plans after graduation, but DeRose said when the time comes, they’ll make the decision together.
“I love him more and more every day, and it is exciting to think about how much I will love him in a year, three years or even 30 years.”
Sarah Clement, a KSU senior studying fashion merchandising
Sarah Clement and her boyfriend, Jake Coleman, will be celebrating three years together in March. Clement lives in Carmel, Indiana, while her boyfriend lives in Elyria. The two met on Tinder at Kent State during Clement’s freshman. This was just before Coleman left school and moved back home to work.
“There was a Chi Omega who lived on his floor,” Clement said. “So we met on Tinder, but she talked to me about him because he said something to her. We met in person through her.”
She laughed as she remembered how they met on Tinder.
Clement swiped right on Coleman because he was cute, but also because she had just broken up with someone else and was swiping right on everyone. She said he was very persistent about talking to her after they matched. When they first met, Clement was on the dance team, and the first day they matched, Coleman went to the basketball game to watch her.
“We just had a lot of common interests,” she said. “The first time we met, we sat down and we were just going to eat lunch together, but we ended up staying there for three hours.”
With Clement at Kent and Coleman in Elyria, the two only get to see each other once a month. Clement also studied abroad last spring, and before she left, Coleman was in South Dakota working, so they didn’t see each other for nine months.
“When you’re apart and it’s just texting or even phone calls, it’s so hard,” she told me. “If there’s a conflict, it’s so hard to resolve over the phone because it’s so much harder to see emotions and what people truly mean over the phone.”
Clement and Coleman talk on the phone every day because they both agreed it’s better than texting all the time. Coleman works nights, so they’re never awake at the same time. Coleman calls her at 5 a.m. to talk on his drive home.
Clement graduates at the end of May, and she’s thinking about staying in the Cleveland area to be with her boyfriend, but she’s worried there aren’t a lot of fashion-related jobs. Coleman currently works as a manager, but he applied to be a flight attendant, which would give the couple more options on where to move.
Hannah Porach, a KSU junior studying psychology
Hannah Porach and her boyfriend, Isaiah Nicholas, have been dating for almost four years. The two originally went out in eighth grade, then broke up the summer before high school. They got back together during junior year.
“When we broke up, I still liked him, I think,” Porach said. “So then my junior year, he just really popped into my life again because he moved to Florida for a year. When he came back, … my best friend at the time said, ‘You and Isaiah should date again.’”
At first, Porach turned down the idea of dating Nicholas again, but she eventually decided to text him. They went on a date and haven’t looked back since.
Nicholas was at Iowa Central Community College for some time, and is now attending Malone University in Canton. Iowa was a 13-hour drive from Kent, so the two never saw each other until summertime. Nicholas couldn't come home often because of his track schedule.
“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be … but it was still hard,” Porach told me. “After I had a bad day, I just wanted to see him and I couldn’t. It was just really hard, especially during (sorority) recruitment. He didn’t understand process, and we almost broke up on bid day because I couldn’t talk to him.”
Porach also said the time difference between Iowa and Ohio was another thing the two struggled with. She would do long distance again if she had to. She doesn’t want to, but she said she would for him.
“We would talk, we would sext a lot and just would wish we were together,” she said with a smile on her face. “I would send him stuff through Amazon, like two pounds of gummy worms, and he would send me flowers.
Porach showed me a little note her boyfriend sent her that hangs on her bedroom wall.
The two shared their first kiss in eighth grade on a group date while watching “Madagascar.” Porach said they made out the whole time. The two have moved faster in their relationship than most. Porach said “I love you first” on April 2, 2015, before they were even dating.
“I snuck out and spent the night at his house,” she said. “I was like, ‘I love him.’ I hadn’t felt this way in a long time. I was sitting there like, ‘Wow I’m so happy.’”
The next day, they went to the the movies, and Nicholas asked Porach to be his girlfriend.
This year is the couple’s first Valentine’s Day together in two years. Porach talked about how excited she was to spend time with her boyfriend. They’re having a candlelight dinner at his place in Canton.
Porach said she would write her boyfriend letters.
“I have a little pile of letters, and we’re like, ‘I can’t wait to show our kids these,’” she said. “We would write letters to make it feel old-fashioned and cute, to actually show our kids one day (and) to be like, ‘Look at how we did this. It was hard, but we did it.”
Morgan Hallam is a features writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.