Eighteen-year-old me desperately wanted to prove everyone who doubted my long distance relationship wrong. I dreamt up a future where I married my high school sweetheart, and attendees reminisced about our earliest memories together during the wedding reception. There came a point, however, where I had to admit to myself that I was unhappy.
My relationship was filled with many firsts, and because of that, it had been so hard to let go of. I don’t write this to be pessimistic about long distance relationships. They are filled with so much love, loyalty, and patience. With the right person, it will work. These are just the reasons why it didn’t for me.
No concrete plans for the future.
As most high-school couples do, my partner and I decided on doing long distance. We planned on him transferring to a college near me after his sophomore year. High off of the honeymoon phase, two years felt like nothing our relationship couldn’t handle. Reassurance that LDR was temporary helped me push further. Two years turned into three, and with my graduation looming in at four, I began to think about my future.
Concrete plans to finally live together (or at least in the same city) were extremely important to me, but we somehow could never come up with anything. A “we’ll see what happens” attitude became anxiety-inducing for me, especially since most successful long distance couples had solid plans to physically be together. Finally, the uncertainty of being with him after graduation became too much, and my plans for the future were ones without him.
Lack of proper communication and time zones.
Neither of us were great at communicating to begin with. Factor in how text was our primary means of talking and we had a 14 hour time difference (15 after daylight savings). Fights were hard to resolve. Calls were limited and often unanswered. Video calls were extremely rare.
I couldn’t talk to the one person I wanted to because he was asleep. I couldn’t vent about my stressful day at school or talk about any fun plans I’d had. I didn’t know how to assuage an argument, and I didn’t know how to comfort my partner after it through text.
Growing at different paces. Disconnect.
Being on two ends of the globe, we led completely separate lives. On the one hand, I became independent and comfortable being by myself, but, on the other, I craved connection. We were doing different things and had our own daily routines; neither of us could understand or resonate with each other.
The people and environments we interacted with undoubtedly influenced and changed us to the point where we became unrecognizable to our highschool selves. We had separate plans for the future and goals that never intersected. Simply put, we didn’t grow together like healthy couples did — we grew apart.
I was in love with our memories. I was in love with past text messages and phone calls that ended with big smiles on my face. I was in love with how in love I felt, but I was no longer in love, and it hurt me to know it. “Good morning” and “goodnight” messages were the extent of our relationship at one point, and they were so routine and expected, I couldn’t even bring myself to feel excited about them.
There are really only a handful of things you can do to “spice up” a long distance relationship: synced Netflix movies, video chat dates, care packages, etc. Somewhere down the road, we exhausted all of these, and effort was no longer put in to keep things romantic. The only things we could afford were long, sappy messages. But soon, those became pretty redundant, and later, rare.
Being in an LDR really is about understanding your needs and flaws as a partner, finding ways to communicate effectively, keeping things exciting, and formulating a good plan to see each other. Above all, it’s about understanding your partner and going above and beyond to make them feel loved and happy. I don’t regret my LDR at all. I would be lying if I said I was never happy or I didn’t love my partner deeply and appreciate our time together. My LDR is easily one of the life experiences that shaped me the most, and I’m thankful to have had it.