Friday, September 10, 2004

Love and Proximity

After reading Heather's blog this morning, I got to thinking about relationships. I have often taken interest in watching different types of relationships flourish or flounder. It's not just relationships between boyfriends and girlfriends that I like to observe, but also between friends and family members. If I could, I would simply observe how people interact with each other over time.

In thinking about relationships this morning, I thought about one specific case that I observed in my college days. It involved three people, we'll call them Bob, Jim, and Sherri, and it goes a little something like this...

Bob and Sherri were both in their sophomore year of college and had been dating for well over a year. They were often pointed out as being a wonderfully cute couple and that they were meant to be together. Whenever they were together, they seemed so happy with each other--the perfect couple. There was a snag to their relationship, however--they were attending different colleges. Bob was going to school in Wisconsin and Sherri was going to school at St. Ben's.

Long distance relationships can be tough, but they both seemed to handle it pretty well. Sherri and Bob would talk on the phone during the week and Bob would visit Sherri whenever he had an open weekend. It appeared as if they had found a way to work through the distance. That was merely an appearance, however.

Over time it seemed like Sherri didn't like the distance as much. She still loved Bob, but she hated the distance. Talking over the phone just wouldn't do it for her when she had problems. She wanted someone to BE THERE with her, not just talking to her on the phone. Sure, Bob still came up when he could, and Sherri still loved the guy, but felt like she needed something more.

This is the point where Jim enters our story. Jim has class with Sherri. They talk occasionally and end up being assigned together for a group project. While doing this project, Sherri goes through a rough patch with her family. Since Jim is around, she turns to him for comfort and venting. She still talks to Bob about it, and Bob comforts her when he comes to visit that weekend, but Sherri see that having someone actually close to her helped her cope so much better.

She hangs out with Jim more and more at college and they get to be really good friends. While this goes on, Sherri continues her relationship with Bob, but he notices something is up. Considering how much he cares for Sherri, he tries all that he can to be everything that Sherri needs, but while he's trying to be what she needs, Jim grows even closer to Sherri since they're spending so much time together.

Eventually this situation leads to a breaking point. Even though Bob and Sherri seemed perfect for each other, by their own accounts and in the thoughts of everyone around them, Sherri breaks up with Bob. She's grown too close to Jim and wants to be with someone who is around because the distance got to be too much for her.

Now, a few years later Jim and Sherri are still together in their senior year of college. Who knows where Bob is. He tried so hard to make it work with Sherri, and even after they broke up he made as much of an effort as he could, but since Jim was only minutes away from Sherri, she instead left Bob in favor of proximity.

In thinking about this, I really feel bad for Bob. He was giving his all in attempting to keep the relationship alive. While he was giving his all, the simple fact that Jim was closer to Sherri in proximity led to her feeling more at ease with him than a man she was probably more compatible with who was farther away.

It's odd how big of a role proximity can play when it comes to relationships. In this case, it was what determined who Sherri stayed with. She needed someone there with her and Bob just couldn't give that to her. I'm sure if he could have they would still be together today, but instead another guy was able to fill that need that Sherri had. What an odd twist of fate for this group, and what a tragic twist for Bob...

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