Before you proceed, I’d like to quickly add that this article is far from a how-to guide on long distance relationships. I stand firm in my belief that every relationship, whether platonic or romantic, differ from one another. LDR’s are no different. I wish nothing more than to be an all-knowing elder with boundless wisdom to share on all things love and relationship related, but as a 20 something year old with one LDR under my belt, I fall short of that title. The following words are merely formulated from my own experiences, lessons learned from friends in the same boat, inner musings, and a personal attempt at giving hope to a seemingly hopeless relationship title. Take from it what you will.
The days leading up to when I get to see my favorite person again after weeks of being apart drag on longer than waiting in line at the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through during happy hour.
I’m fully aware that some might consider me dramatic for saying this, but I’m going to anyway. Every hour, minute, and second that go by during the days leading up to seeing each other again are brutal, and I mean, painfully brutal. It’s as if you’re running a marathon and the finish line is in sight, but for some reason, reaching it requires more effort and mental strength to keep going than it did 10 miles ago.
Now, I’ve never actually ran a marathon and the most running I’ve done recently is a half-ass jog around my neighborhood, so I may not be the most qualified to speak on the matter. When it comes to long distance relationships however, I’m expected to graduate with a PhD regarding it the summer of ‘21.
As a future LDR alumni, I thought I’d share some insights with anyone undergoing one of the most difficult yet rewarding endeavors you can take in a relationship, because if I can survive long distance, so can you.
Believe it or not, distance truly does make the heart grow fonder.
I never liked that quote. Matter of fact, I despised it. Nothing made less sense to me, given that I’m someone who would spend every waking moment with loved ones if the opportunity to do so presented itself, to willingly separate myself from them in hopes that their hearts love me a little harder because of it.
My ego’s taking a massive hit as I admit to you all that the age-old saying proves to be true.
Through my own LDR, I noticed that distance makes the heart grow fonder in three ways.
The first is in appreciation, as distance reminds you that the person you love won’t always be there. It causes you to appreciate the time you get to spend together, no matter how scarce it may be.
The second is in love, as distance urges you to show your partner how much you love them while they’re within your reach, because proclaiming your love through a phone screen poses a challenge for even the strongest romantics.
The third, and a personal favorite of mine, is in longing, as distance forces you to wait. The anticipation of your next encounter creates a stronger wanting for each other than ever before, and let me tell you, the outcome of that never disappoints.
Being apart is a blessing in disguise for those that enjoy their own company and individuality.
Being the introvert that I am with solitude considered my most valuable possession, I quickly realized that I need my alone time, even when in a relationship.
Luckily for me, my boyfriend’s the same way.
Our LDR gives us a chance to keep up with our individual needs and maintain a strong sense of our identity that isn’t rooted in one another.
Not to bash on couples that have the privilege of being together all the time as I am infinitely envious of their position, but I noticed that, at times, they begin to live their lives for each other rather than with each other.
With little to no time apart, their personalities blend into one and they lose parts of themselves that deemed them special to each other in the first place. As a result, their wants and needs begin to resemble that of their partners rather than themselves.
I should disclaim that that’s not the reality for all couples in close proximity to each other, and it’s certainly not the case for most, but the risk of it happening is greater when a couple is always together.
Being in an LDR—though never anyone's ideal relationship status—at the very least allows for two people to recharge on their own and come together as two wholes rather than two halves of a whole.
If you both want it to, it will work. Even when it gets hard, and trust me, it will get hard.
One of the most recurring critiques that I hear about LDR’s is that it doesn’t work. When the inner Elle Woods in me decides to make an appearance and challenge that claim, oftentimes, the response I get is a simple, “because I just don’t believe it does.”
I’m all for being a believer, because as Dean Winchester once said, “nobody likes a skeptic.” (In Season 1, Episode 2 of Supernatural, for those curious). But as a journalist, I’m wired to seek out the truth and believe in the facts. And the fact is, LDR’s work if both parties involved want it to.
I’ve heard very few stories of strong couples calling it quits because long distance took a major toll on their relationship, but those few are just enough to make me wonder. By no means am I discrediting their efforts or calling the love they had for each other insufficient, but if they both wanted to be with each other through all of the ups and downs, would they have really allowed long distance to be the deal-breaker?
That’s not to say that love conquers all. I’ve never believed that myself, so I’m not going to preach it now. But when on the topic of LDR’s, it’s less about love and more about commitment.
Saying I love you so I’m going to put up with the distance is not the same as saying I’m committed to this relationship so I’m determined to make it work, regardless of distance.
Over a year into my own LDR and my boyfriend and I are still willing to make it work, despite all the hardships that come with it, because at the end of the day, we both want it to. We not only love each other, but we’re committed to our relationship, and that’s more than enough to keep us afloat even amidst a high tide.
Time will pass, whether or not you’re together.
I don’t mean physically together, I mean romantically involved. Although the same is true for the former as well.
To my friends who are also in LDR’s and have unfortunately fallen victim to one of my many pep talks on the subject, I’m sorry you have to hear this again, but I can’t stress it enough.
Choosing to end your relationship due to the length of time you and your partner will be apart does not alter the reality of time continuing to pass. The only difference is that rather than using that time as a couple—navigating through the ins and outs of long distance and strengthening your relationship as a result—you will be passing that time alone, heartbroken, with a mind overfilled with the what if’s and could’ve been's.
I’m sure I speak for all when I say that living with love sounds way better than living with regret.
You also have to approach LDR’s with the big picture in mind. As a detail-oriented person, I struggle with this myself, but for LDR’s, it’s the only way to view them.
What’s a week, a month, a year or more of being physically apart compared to a lifetime with the person you love?
At the end of it all, you two will be together and the distance you endured as a couple will be nothing but a milestone on your journey to forever.
Isn’t being together forever worth the temporary time apart?
If there’s one thing you take away from my ramblings, let it be that.