When I tell a person—friend or stranger— I’m seeing someone long distance, the response is universally the same: Good luck! Or Hmm, how’s that going? Or my favorite: Have you cheated on him yet? Has he cheated on you? Clearly, these people have only been in relationships with people who lived in their backyards, or they just haven’t experienced a relationship at all.
I’m currently in my first relationship with a guy named Joey* who lives 370miles away. Joey lives in Los Angeles, California, and I live in Berkeley, California, so the trek is not terrible, but I don’t enjoy the humble privilege of scootering to his house on a whim. Instead, our relationship consists of a lot of technical phone problems, constantly missing each other, and a sex famine that can't really be cured by phone sex (we sound like we have high cholesterol and just exercised for the first time in twenty years—the breathing sounds haunt me in my dreams). But don't be disheartened, the famine will subside (temporarily)!
We started dating in the summer of 2016 before I transferred to UC Berkeley in the fall. I assumed we would break up, that we would just be a summer fling. Before I left, I had said to him: It’s not fair that “that girl” (his ex—note the sensitive tone) got to be with you for so long, and I only get you for three months.
That sold the deal.
As of now, we’ve been together for a semester and a half. It’s my first time being in love, but I can only come in contact with him once or maybe twice a month—he’s like the period I’m desperate to get. I either fly to him on the cheap or take the Megabus to reach him. Oftentimes, he’ll drive to me when he can get off work or has a school break—breaks are another savior! When I’m back home, it’s difficult juggling meeting up with friends, family, and Joey. Nevertheless, it’s never enough time.
Some comments or concerns I get about my relationship:
You Should Enjoy Your College Life and Just Be Single
I know what it’s like to be single and in college—I did that already my freshman and sophomore years. I have had many moments of stress-free fun, so many stories of dates derailed or gone haywire. I’m still the independent person I have always been, but now I have someone who cares about what I did in a day, who is always there for me when I need to vent, someone I can rely on. And I am that person for him. It doesn’t make a difference that we don’t live under the same roof or in the same vicinity, we know that we will see each other eventually, and the reassurance of that notion is incomparable.
Don't You Feel Lonely
I’m a human being, living by myself, attending one of the largest public universities in the country. Loneliness is inevitable whether I’m single or in a relationship. We also try to Facetime mostly every day, and if we can’t, we call each other. When we’re together, our meetings feel extra memorable, because there’s an urgency and an elation after not seeing each other for so long.
You Should Only Be With Him If You're Going To Get Married
Since we have moved on from the Middle Ages, I feel brave enough to say without getting burned at the stake that marriage isn’t always the end game. If I thought about the future in such serious and concrete terms, I would be taking no opportunities, sitting at home, and dreaming about being rescued from my dungeon of anxiety.
Aren't You Going Broke
No doubt about it, relationships are expensive in general—it's a sacrifice you have to be willing to make. We both try to save our money for travel expenses, and when we are with each other, we cook more or find free and inexpensive things to do. Honestly, we’re really content watching movies and eating home-cooked food.
You're Going To Cheat
I’m not tempted to betray his trust or cheat on him, but yes, I am attracted to other people. This is normal in any relationship; you don’t suddenly become blind to beauty. I remind myself that my connection with Joey is much larger and more fulfilling than a hookup or a random fling. If you're feeling really tempted to cheat, or have cheated, you might want to evaluate the relationship and ask yourself what you're willing to give up to be with this person.
Sometimes, I fear that we are growing in different directions because we aren’t there for each other from day to day, but I realize that the separation only enhances our connection when we do see each other. We have more to share and laugh about, and we're always grateful to simply be with each other. Our memories may be less in number than the average couple, but each one is all the more extraordinary and resonates with me wherever I am on the map.
*A pseudonym is used to protect his identity.