The Problem With Long Distance Relationships

My boyfriend and I had a love like no other.  No one else could feel like we did, and no one’s relationship was as deep as ours.  That’s what we thought, at least, for the first year of our relationship.  Come the start of the second year, we had matured--we were still open and communicative, but we had made it through a lot of hardships, too.  The problem was while we live around the corner from each other, we go to schools at opposite ends of the state.  This turned out to be problematic, especially during finals week, since he didn’t have time to text me and all I wanted to do was text him.  Regardless, we finished Fall Semester 2016 together, hanging on by a thread.  Luckily, we came together for winter break and found were just as in love as before.  We talked about what had upset me, what had bothered him, and how we could fix it. Things were wonderful again.

There was, however, a lingering problem that I don’t think either of us wanted to acknowledge:

For Spring 2017, I was going abroad.  For seven months.

We had managed to stay together and stick it out when we were 250 miles apart, but this was going to be 3,737 miles, with a six hour time difference. During the fall semester when times were hard, I was sure we were going to break up before I left for France.  But winter break was so wonderful that we decided to stick it out.  We would work hard to keep the flame lit from across the Atlantic Ocean.

And it worked.  For the most part. For the first month.  But I found that I simply couldn’t get a 20-year-old boy to pay as much attention to me as I needed.  He didn’t make any big sweeping romantic gestures online, and when we Facetimed on Valentine’s Day, I left the conversation sobbing, not understanding why he didn’t seem happy to see me.

He was, of course.  But we express ourselves differently.  Face to face in person, we could overcome this, but over dry text messages, I felt unloved, and he didn’t know how to fix it.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came after my February break on a bus ride. After my awesome vacation, I needed him to be thrilled for me, and miss me as much as I missed him, but when I texted him, he gave me a pretty emotionless answer.  It wasn’t intentional, it was just all that he knew.

I shot him back the “we need to talk” text, knowing then and there we had to break up.  What killed me though, was when I told him what I had been thinking, he already knew, and asked me what I wanted to do.

My best friend, my boyfriend and my high school crush, all wrapped up into one glorious guy, was so far away that I couldn’t perceive him as anything but a toll on my mental health.  So we ended it, 1 year, 5 months, and 21 days into the relationship.  

We were both devastated.  I was somewhat inconsolable, snapping at my friends and crying at the drop of a hat. I went on a Tinder date just a few days later in an attempt to distract myself.  But I never fell out of love.

There is a bright side to this. Funnily enough, once the label of “boyfriend and girlfriend” was dropped, so were harsh expectations and harsher disappointments.  If he didn’t have time to text me back I was able to understand.  I didn’t need to hear from him everyday, which in turn put less pressure on him.  Suddenly, the icky resentment I had built up started dissipating, and day by day, month by month, we turned back into the lovey-dovey couple we had been back in 2015.  We were closer than we had been in months.  Facetiming was no longer laborious, and we could be more candid with each other.  

Come the end of my time in France, we were anxiously planning to see each other.  There was a silent agreement that we would be “together” again upon my return to the States.  But while I was in a different hemisphere, we were both single.

It was horrible not having him as a support system, but it was worse when he was a stressor.  Getting rid of that label, breaking up, gave me the opportunity to fully experience being abroad and being my own person.  

Now we’re back together, but it’s much different.  We both have new ideas on how a relationship works, especially since we’re both so young and far apart geographically.  Which is good, since he’s going abroad next semester, and history tends to repeat...