While couples seem to be getting more diverse in the United States, interracial, same-sex and long distance couple Mallory Rothstein and Sheree Haggan have had more than a few fair share of differences in their relationship.
Rothstein, a junior at Stony Brook, met her girlfriend, a Utah University senior, at a Worlds Youth Leadership Retreat at New York University during the summer of 2013.
Rothstein and Haggan’s relationship started quickly.
“I knew that I one hundred percent wanted to be with Sheree,” Rothstein said.
The couple has much in common, with spontaneity being one of the building blocks of their relationship.
After only knowing each other for one week the retreat ended, Sheree went back to her school in Utah and Mallory decided she wanted to visit her.
“I decided I needed to plan a trip very soon to visit her in order to make sure we would end up officially together,” Rothstein said.
Rothstein and Haggan have bonded over helping non-profit organizations and participating in their schools’ government. They also hike and go to the beach together in the summer.
Although the Rothstein and Haggan are happy together, some people do not approve of their relationship.
Haggan explained that Utah is less accepting and the state “has a long ways to go before interracial or homosexual couples will feel safe and supported.”
When Haggan visited Rothstein at Stony Brook, she was surprised that everyone was so accepting.
“I felt free to be me, without fear of judgment,” Haggan said.
Haggan comes from an African American and Hispanic background. She felt comfortable telling her family about her relationship.
“My family is very comfortable with me dating outside of my race,” Haggan said.
Rothstein’s family however, had more trouble adjusting to their daughter’s same-sex interracial relationship.
“It was really only difficult telling my parents because I think they, despite them never really saying it, imagined me dating a white male,” Rothstein said. “To also find out she was African American and Hispanic probably just shocked them even more.”
Being an interracial, same-sex and long distance couple also comes with some responsibilities, according to the couple, including being a role model.
“I personally think it’s really important for us as a couple to show people that a same-sex, interracial, and long distance relationship can work,” Rothstein said.
Rothstein and Haggan also have a difference in religion. Rothstein is half Jewish while Haggan is Christian.
With a Christian background, Haggan’s family was surprised to discover the girl she is dating is half-Jewish.
“When they found out I was going to celebrate Hanukkah with her family, they were conflicted.” Haggan enjoys the differences in religion. One reason is because the food.
“We get to experience different types of food like matzah ball soup,” Haggan said.
This couple had to start the beginning of their relationship apart from each other—Haggan is from Idaho and Rothstein is from New Jersey.
Beside the fact that they are miles away, they are also from two different parts of the country. The way the two speak and interact is even different from one another.
“I walk and talk very slow. Mallory on the other hand does every so quickly,” Haggan said.
The girls are both busy in their separate schools, by starting up clubs and by doing their own separate activities.
But even though they spend a lot of their time being involved, they both agree that communication is key for their relationship to be successful.
“We have to be excellent communicators and have an extremely strong level of trust,” Haggan explains.
But being long distance does not come with all downsides, the couple likes to take this opportunity to plan lots of surprises for each other to make one another feel special.
“It does become kind of fun and nice to think of new ways to tell the other we love them,” Rothstein said.
Even though on Valentine’s Day the couple plans to celebrate their day apart they still know how to express their love for one another.
“Since we will be apart for Valentine’s Day, I have a surprise planned,” Haggan declares and Rothstein also responded “It’s a surprise! I just hope her sister doesn’t ruin anything.”
Correction: May 19, 2014
An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of Mallory Rothstein’s girlfriend. She is Sheree Haggan, not Sheree Haggon.