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Case #3:

A wise man once told me that in long-distance relationships, distance is like a wind and love is like a fire. If the fire is small and weak, a strong wind will blow it out, but if the fire is strong, the wind will make it stronger. Many students at HBS left their loved ones behind and moved to Boston. And often times, these two years become the ultimate test of their relationships. In the light of infamous “Black Monday” (some call it “Black Thursday”), let us evaluate the meaning of long-distance relationships at HBS.

Aforementioned “Black Monday” refers to the Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend when many students come back to school having broken up with their boyfriends/girlfriends back home over the weekend. The idea is that many of them go home for the first time after they left home last summer, and come to the conclusion to break up after reevaluating their relationships.

Although “Black Monday” has become some kind of a legend, many long-distance breakups start happening even sooner. A friend of mine whose girlfriend was still back in Europe recently pulled the trigger on the phone and ended their two-year relationship. And it’s not like they didn’t try. He called her as much as he could, and she came to visit a couple of times in the last three months. But in the end, he realized that she was not the one and being far away from her made it easier to break up. He also felt that he was missing out on part of the HBS experience by not being single. There is so much temptation, which is hard to resist, and long-distance partners cannot compete with the instant hookups sometimes.

Many students are also talking about “upgrading” their partner suggesting that HBS is something of the beginning of a new life. It is almost like the school elevates the students into some kind of “high society” that they feel they need to live up to, so they feel obliged to leave their prior lives behind and start new ones. So maybe, his breakup was symbolically the beginning of his new journey into something new. And yes, he has already “gotten some” since the breakup.

On the other hand, some people do pull it off. Another friend who left his girlfriend in his hometown keeps up a good relationship. He says that it’s hard and takes lots of effort on both ends, but it’s totally worth it if you really like the person. The key, he says, is to keep the conversation relatable by not going overboard with the HBS inside stories and jokes, which she cannot understand. Another factor is that his parents absolutely love her and even hang out with her in his absence. Perhaps the parental pressure keeps him in line.

So people go through the test of long-distance relationships and come out with different conclusions. No matter what the conclusion is, it is clear that the distance makes it clear what the person really wants in a relationship. Hopefully, not too many fires were blown out during this Thanksgiving holiday.

December 9, 2002
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