By: Caitlin Meyer
We were together just over three months when the end of the school year approached. My boyfriend and I are from the same state, but he was staying in Boston over the summer and I was going home five hours away. So, on the Saturday after finals, while ugly crying with an expression eerily and unfortunately akin to Kim Kardashian’s, I gave him a hug and said goodbye.
After that… I didn’t really know what to do. This is the first relationship for both of us, and as someone who had previously sworn off long-distance relationships, I felt both like a hypocrite and completely lost. I can’t exactly promise we know what we’re doing now, but I can confidently say long-distance was the best thing for our relationship.
Yes, yes, I know you’re probably shocked— I was too when I came to that realization. It may sound crazy, but it’s true!
First let me be clear: long-distance was hard, and challenging, and pretty darn sad. Trust me, I was the happiest girl in the world when I came back to Boston at the end of August, knowing I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to him again. After all, he’s pretty great, if I do say so myself, and certainly someone worth missing.
Anytime communication is drastically and suddenly altered, like when undergoing a long-distance relationship or cutting ties with a friend, it brings a very unsettling feeling. If you don’t acknowledge the struggle you won’t be able to overcome it. So, if you’re reading this and just entered into a long-distance relationship, let yourself mope. It sucks, and it is completely okay to recognize that.
While doing long-distance, my boyfriend and I visited each other approximately four or five times at fairly equidistant points from the middle of May to September. We would text fairly often throughout the day, and tried to either talk on the phone or Facetime every day/every other day.
By July, the “honeymoon phase” was also ending, and we had to tackle that through online communication. That wasn’t easy, but having to overcome that transition under more restricted circumstances forced us to convey our thoughts in a manner that couldn’t be distorted over text or Facetime. I struggled with misinterpreting his texts, and while that issue wouldn’t have occurred if we were not long-distance, the experience taught me not to assume his intentions. To this day I have to remind myself of that lesson, and it has only strengthened our relationship.
Also, learning how to communicate without the physical cues and body language people often rely on when talking helped us better understand each other. When you aren’t able to see the way someone shrugs their shoulders when they’re disappointed, or the playful smile dancing on their face when making a joke, you have to rely on the words they’re using and the inflection in their voice to understand their purpose. He can often tell exactly what I’m feeling just from the sound of my voice within seconds, and I have to admit it’s pretty special knowing someone just gets you so well.
When you aren’t able to hug each other or interact with your partner in person, every interaction you have adds emotional intimacy. You know that person is talking to you because they truly enjoy hearing about your life. There are no ulterior motives. Every moment on the phone is spent forming inside jokes, learning obscure facts, and just being there for them. Even though we weren’t able to spend time together face-to-face, over the summer we grew closer.
Photo credit: Lorraine Cosgrove
To last summer’s distance, thank you for forcing us to build a strong, communicative foundation in our relationship. Thank you for making visits and the memories attached to them so much sweeter. Thank you for the lessons you brought us, and the experience we gained with each day that passed by. We are closer and happier because of you, and for that, I am forever grateful.