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Love on campus: how Stony Brook students handle healthy relationships

Assistant Multimedia Editor Angelina Livigni and sports writer Kevin Broderick pose for the Sex and Relationships photoshoot. Healthy relationships, platonically or romantically, can differ for everyone. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

Healthy relationships can come in many forms, whether platonic or romantic. From friendships to lovers, healthy relationships can look different for everyone depending on their own preferences and situations. 

The Statesman gathered three pairs of people in healthy relationships on campus and asked them about their keys to success. Even if you are not in a relationship currently, we asked them for tips and tricks for our readers looking for love or new friends.  

Katie 

Katie Ravano, a junior biochemistry major, gave The Statesman insight into how she keeps a healthy relationship with her boyfriend. 

Ravano and her boyfriend, who requested to stay anonymous, have been together for almost two and a half years, starting their journey at a Stony Brook University football game their freshman year. 

They both attended the game alone but ended up sitting next to each other and chatted the entire time; the rest was history.  

When asked what has helped keep their relationship healthy and stable, Ravano said, “This is kind of cheesy, but it absolutely is communication … not immediate, but as soon as you can.” 

She continued to emphasize that in a relationship, bottling up feelings regarding your partner’s actions can only intensify your emotions. She also mentioned that laughter was a big part of keeping their relationship healthy.

Ravano also left some advice for those searching for a relationship themselves.

“The best thing to do would be to just get out there … meeting new people, even if it’s scary, is almost always gonna pay off and at the very least, you got to do something for yourself,” she said. 

Julia and Liam

Next up are two long-distance students giving us their perspectives on how their relationship stays healthy over the phone. 

Julia Parsons, a freshman civil engineering major, and Liam Gallagher, a freshman acting major attending Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, started dating around a year ago. 

They met in their freshman year of high school but were never really close until their senior year when they were cast as best friends in their school’s rendition of the musical “Newsies,” with Julia playing David Jacob and Liam playing Jack Kelly — both leading roles.  

Parsons and Gallagher agree with Ravano on the importance of communication, especially with the distance between them. “We kind of do periodic debriefs to be like, ‘Where are you in regards to how this is working out?’” Gallagher explained. 

These check-ins are what they claim keep their relationship healthy. Parsons added that she feels being long-distance has actually helped their relationship.

“I think it’s helped us connect in more emotional ways since we can’t connect physically and be physically present with each other,” Parsons said. 

When asked what tips they might have for other students struggling in long-distance relationships, Parsons emphasized the importance of finding “what works for you.”

“All of the long-distance advice tips videos I would get would be like, ‘FaceTime every night, visit each other on the weekends,’ and obviously that’s not possible for us,” she said. “Even if it’s not what works for the majority of other people, if it works for you, that’s all that matters.” 

Alexa and Paul

Next are two best friends who described how they keep their friendship in a healthy place. 

Alexa Grimley, a junior linguistics major, and Paul Manzo, a senior psychology major, became close friends during the spring semester of their freshman year.  

They are both members of Pocket Theatre, an on-campus club that produces plays and musicals every semester. They ended up co-starring in the musical “The Addams Family,” with Grimley as Morticia Addams and Manzo as her husband, Gomez Addams.   

As the years went on, Grimley and Manzo both gained executive board positions in Pocket Theatre: Grimley as the president and Manzo as the vice president. This gives their friendship a different dynamic because they must balance both the professional and personal aspects of their relationship.  

“Because we’re in a leadership position together, communication is key on a lot of things,” Grimley said. “Sometimes we disagree on things about Pocket and we have to communicate that as president [and] vice president, but also as friends.” 

The key to their healthy relationship is always being on the same page. This does not pose a problem for Grimley and Manzo, as they claim to have “the same brain.”

“They say opposites attract. That couldn’t be further from the truth with me and Alexa,” Manzo said. 

“It happens all the time that we will say the exact same sentence and it’s just bizarre,” Grimley continued.

Manzo gave some advice about how other students can find lasting friendships on campus.

“Just approach every person the same exact way, whether you’ve known them for five seconds or five years,” Manzo said. “You’ll find that you guys have stuff in common or you have differences that complement each other.” 

Seawolves seem to especially prioritize communication, whether it be in long-standing Stony Brook love stories or as friends on the big stage. But each of these healthy habits are an essential aspect of any relationship, regardless of its nature or span. 

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