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How Distance Actually Benefited My Relationship

Long distance relationships are difficult. There is absolutely no question about that. It’s really hard to maintain a close relationship with somebody close to you if they are almost never physically with you. This is why they have such a negative connotation associated with them; they’re riddled with struggles and hardships much of the time, which can cause wedges between people and problems within the relationship. Despite the obvious challenges, one long distance relationship in my life actually had the opposite effect and ended up helping the relationship I had with this person.

When I use the term “relationship,” I am using it in a different context than most think when regarding long distance. It is not a boyfriend or significant other that I am describing, but rather, the relationship I have with my cousin. She and I have always been extremely close and I tend to think of her more as a sister. She is truly one of the best and closest friends I have. While growing up, she only lived about ten minutes away from me and we saw a great deal of each other. Though, things changed when we were in middle school. I found out that she had to move and the two of us were absolutely devastated. She only moved about forty-five minutes away but, of course, this may as well have been halfway across the country as far as I was concerned. As a young girl, this was very traumatizing to me because it felt like a part of me was being torn away. I remember retreating into myself and shying away from social situations as a result of not having her around. I wasn’t in a good place for a few months as I attempted to navigate my changing life.

Despite this, I learned how to deal with her being away and created close relationships with other friends. While my cousin and I still remained close during our middle and high school years, we definitely lost some of the strong connection we had with each other. However, I don’t necessarily attribute this to the distance. We lost touch mostly because, as we got older, we became busy with schoolwork and other extracurriculars that it was hard to maintain a very close and constant relationship. We kept up with each other mostly through Facebook and saw each other one in awhile during family gatherings but that was the extent of our relationship at the time.

Time passed, as it always does, and suddenly my cousin had graduated high school and was set to go to college….four hours away from me. I was only a junior in high school at this time, but we both knew that her going away to school was a major threat to us and our relationship. We didn’t know how it was happening, but now we were growing up and starting to make our own ways in the world. It hit us that if we didn’t do something soon, we would grow apart and potentially lose our close bond. There’s something strange about coming to the sad realization that your childhood is ending and the direction of your life is suddenly in your own hands.

My cousin moved away for the second time but with a great deal of finality attached to it than before. This doesn’t seem to make much sense since college is only temporary, but her move to college was more impactful because it was a reflection of the fact that we were turning into functioning adults with much more to lose. When you’re a child, your fate is more in the hands of your parents. Now it was up to us to stay close and to stay in contact.

That’s exactly what we did. We threw ourselves into each other’s social medias. We texted more often, we FaceTimed, we kept our eyes peeled for Instagram and Facebook posts, and we stayed glued to Snapchat like it was part of our religion. It is precisely because we knew our relationship was being threatened that we both put 110% into staying in contact. This resulted in us being closer than we ever were before, including when she lived so close to me. Now, when we get together, it feels like it hasn’t been too long because, in truth, it really hasn’t. We see and talk to each other every day through some social media platform or another (currently at a 506 day Snapchat streak).

Long distance relationships are not, by any means, better than one that is close to you. They have their difficulties and it’s very easy to slip up and let the distance get to you. Every kind of relationship experiences some level of adversity. But it’s how you approach the problems together that can make your relationship sink or swim. For some people, long distance never ends up working out and it’s more trouble than it’s worth. For me, though, I appreciate the distance between my cousin and I because it is completely the reason why we are as close as we are today. While seeing each other in person is certainly better than simply a text message or seeing her face through a screen, I cannot deny that our relationship is so much stronger because we have to put in an extra boost of effort. We chose not to let long distance hurt our friendship and I am utterly thankful for that.

*All images courtesy of Giphy

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