I’ve been in a committed relationship for five years. For almost four of those years, we have been 534 miles apart.
I am always asked why or how. To me, the answer is simple and complicated at the same time.
You see, it is simple because the answer will always be the same. I love him. And he loves me. It would be easy to cheat or break up because of how difficult long distance can be. It would be simple to delete him from my life, throw or give away all he has given me, and have nothing to remind me of him because we live in two separate towns and live two separate lives. All the same is true for him.
But that's the funny thing about being in a long distance relationship. I’ve come to realize he is my best friend, not just a partner. And I think that is what makes us stronger. That is what makes me committed to this relationship, and why I believe he is, too.
But it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows just because we say we love each other.
Long distance is hard because it is just like any other relationship, factoring in distance.
Distance is really the largest issue we face because it dips into every aspect of us. And I’m not saying that just because we can’t see each other for long periods of time.
It is the little things like walking around campus and seeing cute couples, wishing that was us. Or missing things like parties, get-togethers, or lunch.
And that's just the surface.
I don’t have the luxury of coming home after a bad day to a boyfriend on the couch or having the ability to call him over at a whim to hold me. I don’t get to fight with him and slam a door. The silence of a phone line seems much more final. It is knowing if the Internet or cell service goes out, you won’t be speaking or seeing each other for a long while.
Every time there is a dance or event, we have to begin planning in advance how the other will get there, even if it is for a measly two days.
“What time does your last class/shift end?”
“By what time do you have to be back?”
“Do you have a ride to the airport?”
“Are you sure you will make the flight?
Or even worse, when one of us makes the drive out to the other, anxiety builds knowing that there is roughly four hours without cell service between one city and the next check point. And you do tend to sit there with worry, knowing anything could happen.
It is when I finally arrive that we come to a new, complex obstacle that comes with living away from home. Not only have he is not the only person that I haven't seen in three or four months, I also haven't seen my parents or friends in that period of time, either. And he knows this. Seeing the sadness in him when he knows I’m struggling to balance everyone’s needs is difficult. Deciding how to split my limited time amongst loved ones is difficult, and in the end, someone inevitably gets a little hurt.
But despite the challenges, the quote “distance makes the heart grow fonder” rings true.
Even the smallest moments during our time apart mean the world to us. We meticulously plan date night. Movie night means blasting the volume really loud and angling the web cam just right so he/I can watch a movie that Netflix doesn’t have in his/my area. It’s having lunch over the phone, imagining myself beside him. It’s video chatting with him at the store to pretend he’s with me. It is calling him after a long day and seeking the comfort of his breath on the phone as I settle in for bed: the security of his presence on the line being as good as having him beside me.
And when I finally get off that plane or step out of the car, the stress and anxiety melts away, because I can finally hug and kiss him. The next few days, and if it is summer, month or two, we share are priceless. When we walk beside each other, we relish the moment. We hold hands or link arms, and if it is too hot, we hold pinkies. No little touch is too small or any less intimate. We even relish our fights because there is no other time that we can turn to each other and say “I’m sorry” and wrap our arms around the other to prove how we truly feel.
It isn’t hard to love at a distance. The challenges that you face being apart can break you to your core. But if you really do love that person, it is simple.