I’m not an expert on long distance relationships, but I’ve been in one for almost two years now. When my boyfriend and I graduated high school, we were headed to different colleges. Sure, he’s only two and a half hours away and other people are burdened with states between them, but it hurts nonetheless. With such busy and conflicting schedules between us, the us slowly becomes more of a me and a him.
But over the course of these (almost) two years, I’ve learned things about myself and our relationship and how to be in a relationship in general. It’s not as easy as it used to be in high school. There are times when I want to end it and move on. But I’m still here.
So here are my five truths about long distance relationships. Completely devoid of any blind optimism that it can totally 100% work out without any bumps in the road. Because there are a lot of bumps in the road, at least there are for me.
Saying goodbye never gets easier.
Every goodbye is still a tear-filled event. I still hide his clothes and his phone and whatever else I can get my hands on in a futile attempt that it would stop him from leaving. That it would keep him here with me. I still sit on the floor pouting and whining while he packs his things, listing of reasons that would never convince him to stay.
It’s the same old story. I’m tired of crying all the time. He’s tired of watching me cry all the time. Heck, I’m pretty sure my friends are beyond sick and tired of me crying. But it’s just hard and awfully sad to let go yet again.
You’d think that after a whole year of the same old story, I’d get used to goodbyes by now. But that’s the thing about love, I suppose.
Saying goodbye gets harder each time because I love him more. It’s a double edged sword. There are more and more things that I will miss each time. We have more memories that will become a dull ache in my heart until the next time.
But even though saying goodbye can be painful, it’s just the first step to the next time you can say hello again. And that alone is enough to make it worth it, in my opinion.
Not a lot of people are going to be on your side.
Yeah, there are a lot of hopeful articles. They will tells you that your relationship will overcome anything. That all you need is patience and trust. All of these are true, but it’s far too optimistic. You can have patience and trust and a love that burns like the fire of a thousand suns. But it can still be difficult.
And for every single one of these optimistic articles, there are so many more negative ones. Articles that will tell you that it’s impossible to have a long distance relationship. Or that it would ruin your college experience completely. If you’re anything like me, you’ll listen to them and start to doubt. Don’t let yourself doubt anything.
I spent a lot of times worrying about the “inevitable” cheating.
People are often quick to point out how untrustworthy your partner may be. That they’ll have this wild college experience that you will never know about and you’re left to be hurt and miserable. If I had a penny for every time someone insinuated that my boyfriend was out doing who knows what, I’d be pretty rich by now.
People are going to think a lot of things. They’re going to tell you about how long distance relationships don’t work very often. Or that you’re holding each other back. In some cases, this can be true. If the distance is just making everything worse, it could be time to say goodbye for good. But other times, the doubt and uncertainty isn’t worth it
It isn’t worth being sad and worrying and wondering that the worst is going to come– so don’t let yourself. If you want to do a long distance relationship and feel like you can handle it, do it.
At the end of the day, this is all only temporary. But your love probably isn’t.
You will be sad more often than you want it to be.
The internet, for the most part, is a pretty optimistic place. It’s littered with articles upon articles upon articles of how to survive a long distance relationship. How to make the best of it. It fills you with hope– at least it did with me. I thought this would be easy.
Instead, you get jealous really quickly when you see couples walking around holding hands. And then your hands feel colder and empty and you’re just yearning for them to come back to you.
Instead, you get jealous of their friends or their roommate or even that one person they always sit next to in class but don’t know because at least they get to seem him regularly. You will fight them for stupid reasons. And the worst part is that you know it’s a stupid reason, but you can’t help but fight them anyway because there’s so much frustration and sadness you’re storing.
(Related: Always Breaking Up and Getting Back Together)
Instead, you will forget sometimes how much you love them. I forget how much I love him sometimes. And your heart will tell you that it would be easier to end it. That you’ll stop hurting with time. You start to think about dating other people, think about moving on.
But you don’t. You just get sad, but not really sad because you love him. Just sad that you’re still alone.
Nothing beats seeing them again.
A lot of things about long distance relationships are absolutely awful. But there are also a lot of good things, and these good things are enough to make it all worthwhile.
Seeing them again feels like a lazy Sunday morning after a particularly rough week. You get to stay in bed until the sun peeks through your curtains and even then you don’t have to get up just yet. You can just lay in bed and think or breathe and just be content. Sunday mornings are beautiful, yet fleeting. But just because they don’t last very long doesn’t mean that you love experiencing them any less.
Every time my boyfriend visits, I fall in love with him all over again. This is me being perfectly honest: in the time that he’s not with me, I lose that love a little. I know I love him, but it gets stale and old; I get used to the long periods we go without talking. He starts feeling more like an acquaintance than a significant other, even through all the “I love you”s. But seeing him again, everything is new and exciting again.
When he visits, I go back to being that same high school dweeb with a big crush. And then it’s all worth it all over again.
This is what love is.
You will learn that love–true love– is loving someone unconditionally even when they’re not there. Love can be possible without their constant presence because you know they’re there when you need them to be.
Love is staying up to ungodly hours and racking up data bills with nightly FaceTime sessions, because that’s the only way you feel close. Dates are weird, but you love it and you make room in your schedule for it. Because this is what’s important.
It’s them calling you in between classes because you just realized you failed your exam and they want to make you feel better anyway they can.
Love is being able to call them when you’re walking home in the dark from a late night study session in the library. And it’s knowing they’ll pick up– even if they’re busy studying, even if they’re sleeping– because they’re always there for you.
You will learn that it’s hard to date someone so far away. Sometimes, long distance relationships feels like a giant wall between you two. But love is knowing you won’t give it up for anything. Because even though it’s hard, it’s much harder to be apart.
Love is desperately craving the comfort of being physically with someone else, but not letting go, even if the gap between you two hurts. You’ll want to be with other people for the sake of it, but the thought of being without them is unimaginable.
You will learn that love transcends space if you really want it to.
Before doing long distance, I felt weird about my relationship. I felt like I was going into it too fast– we were just kids after all, what do we know about love? I said that I loved him a lot, and I meant it. But did I really mean it? Did I even know that for a fact? It wasn’t until going through six months of long distance that I realized, yeah, I kinda do love him.
Long distance relationships are hard. But it’s easier when you love someone.
Are you in a long distance relationship? What have you learned from it?
Also, do you feel like long distance relationships are too cumbersome to maintain? Do you think they’re doomed for failure? I love hearing about others’ opinions since this entire post was my own experiences and feelings!