Last Wednesday marked the three year anniversary of my relationship with mah dearly beloved high school sweetheart (trying not to cringe @ myself while writing about relationshippy stuff). Out of the three years we’ve been together, about half of that time was through long distance. I remember being familiar with the concept of a “long distance relationship” even as a child, even when I wouldn’t have fully understood what it meant and constituted of, even though it would be a long time after that before I fully understood what it meant and constituted of.
“Long distance relationship” – when a couple maintains a romantic relationship with one another despite being a great physical distance apart. It seems simple enough to define. Yet although you can easily outline the concept, its executions are highly ambiguous. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Some parts of it will be easy, some parts of it will be hard. Some people will support your decision to stay together, some people won’t. It’s different for everybody and I think people should stop overgeneralising it or talk like they know about long distance relationships when they don’t. Because I never truly knew what a long distance relationship was until I was in one. And in my experience, there isn’t very much else to say other than: It’s not as bad as they make it out to be.
In my experience, the worst thing about going long distance is feeling like you aren’t part of the other person’s personal growth anymore. There’s no doubt that you’ll both change over time. The person you parted ways with at the airport will be a slightly different version of him or herself the next time you reunite. And thats great, that’s all part of life. But it sucks when it feels like you weren’t there to see it happen. That’s why its important to still talk about the simple, little, everyday things. It’s important to always give whatever amount of time you can afford to give, whether it be a 3-hour FaceTime session or squeezing in a call at the end of the day just to hear them say good night. As long as you’re still showing the same kind of effort that you would if you were still living in the same place, the physical distance just disappears.
Another factor in relation to this is that things could get lost in translation sometimes. Obviously my boyfriend and I are both living our own separate lives without the other fully being able to see how we are around other people and how we go about our days. The only perspective your partner will be able to see you from is the way you directly present yourself to them. This gets a little tricky since the primary way you’ll be able to communicate is through the internet, and if you find out that this person talking to you over the internet is so different to who they are in person, then it’ll just feel like you’re being catfished right? 😂 Not in an intentionally sketchy way or anything of course, but this is why its important for you as an individual to always stay true to yourself and be able to translate this accurately to all those you surround yourself with – both your LDR partner and the people physically around you.
Again, I find that it’s important to maintain the same dynamic of your relationship, neaaar, faaar, wherever you areeee. We still get each other gifts whenever we come across something we know the other would like, even though we’d have to wait until when I visit for Christmas to give them. We’ve always had a silly relationship, so we play little games while we video chat. My boyfriend is fond of making curated playlists, so he made one with all the songs that remind us of each other. It’s nice because I’ll listen to it when I’m on the bus ride home, and it’ll feel like he’s talking to me through the lyrics. He’s truly my best friend, and our close friendship just closes off the physical space between us.
But that’s the thing – it’s all about your personal experience with it, as well as how you guys first and foremostly work together as a couple. Like I said, it’s different for everybody and just because my experience has worked out this way doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the same for everyone else. And though I’m no expert on long distance relationships, all I know is that it’s worth the try.
Yes, it sucks that the 5 hour time difference means that often times I’m already about to go to bed by the time he gets home from uni. Yes, it (really) sucks that we can’t hug. Yes, it sucks that we were only able to go out to dinner for just one out of three anniversaries.
But going back to the whole reason we’re in a long distance relationship in the first place – me moving to New Zealand. I really don’t know how I could have done it without him. When I moved overseas on my own at 17, I was scared as shit. Yet even though he would be the most affected by my absence, he was still the one to support my decision the most and give me the moral support I really needed. He was still the one who kept me company through the loneliness and crippling social anxieties of being in a new, unwelcoming place. His belief in my abilities has pushed me to have bigger dreams and gave me the confidence to take the new opportunities that were presented to me.
No we’re not a perfect couple and we still have our differences. But this person is the bestest friend I’ve ever had, and the past 3 years have been all about cementing that bond. It’s a bond that bridges over the 5,000 miles in between us. Love doesn’t change just because it’s been taken out of its original context.