A Reflection on My Long Distance Relationships

Mid-July of 2017, I sat alone in a dorm room in Bellarmine Hall doing everything I could to keep myself from crying. I was so excited for summer orientation and eager to make friends, but once I got there, I hated it. The people I met were either mean or had planned to go to orientation at the same time as their friends. I could hear a group of twenty or so girls in a room down the hall laughing and making friends, but I couldn’t bring myself to go down the hall and join them. My anxiety was through the roof, and it got worse every time I thought about the possibility of my roommate, whom I had not crossed paths with yet, bringing back a group of friends she had made and them hanging out in the room while I sat on the bed with tears in my eyes. After a while, I couldn’t take it. It was almost midnight, there was no sign of my roommate, and I had made up my mind to transfer to UC Santa Cruz as soon as I could (I called my mom to tell her this and she said I had to stay at least a year at Seattle U). As I rummaged around my overnight bag for my pajamas and toothbrush, the coolest girl I’ve ever seen, bright blue hair and all, walked into the room and said, “Alexandra.”

I was stunned. Was she talking to me? Obviously. There was no one else in the room. I probably looked like a deer caught in headlights, squeaking out a measly little, “Yes?”

She looked around the room, then tried again. “I’m Alexandra.”

“Oh! Me too, but I usually go by Alex.”

“I usually go by my last name.” She entered the room, sat on her bed, and didn’t tell me her last name. I thought, There’s no way this girl will ever talk to me outside this room. We got ready for bed in near silence, and then when we were both lying in our respective bed with the lights on, I decided to try again. We ended up staying up until about 4 AM, telling each other things I had never been so quick to tell anyone. A few months later, when we moved to Seattle for the start of school, I texted Alexandra and asked her if she wanted to come over and hang out in my dorm. All I got in response was, “I’m busy.” So that was the end of that.

Fast forward to winter quarter of freshman year, I was determined to make friends. I walked into one of my UCOR classes, saw one person I didn’t know, and sat next to him. “Hi, I’m Alex.” He looked at me from the corner of his eye and didn’t say anything. I sat in the awkward rejection until someone I knew came in, and then I got up and sat next to her. It wasn’t until I asked my friend to help me study for the stats class I was in that I officially met the rude boy from my class.

“This is Aidan. He’s way better with math than I am. We’ll both tutor you, that sound good?”

No, it absolutely did not sound good. For one, Aidan was so mean to me when he tutored me. He would get annoyed when I didn’t understand things as quickly as he wanted me to, and I swear, though he denies it, that one time when I asked if we could go over something again, he sighed and said, “It’s like you’re not even trying.”

So what do these two less-than-desirable experiences have in common? They introduced me to two of the most important people in my life.

Alexandra has become the best friend I’ve ever had in my life. She’s definitely one of my soul mates. We don’t have to talk everyday for me to know we’re still best friends, and when we’re apart, we honestly don’t talk all that often. But when we’re together? We never stop talking. We laugh and we sing (she loves meme songs, so I hear them often when she’s around) and we have a good time. We never fight, we can go from spilling our guts to laughing to silently doing homework to talking about the injustices of the world--all in a thirty minute time period.

Aidan is my boyfriend of one year and counting. I am disgustingly in love with him. Seeing his face can make my entire day. I love that most of the time when we spend time together, it’s at home and we binge The Great British Baking Show, cook and show each other music we think the other might like. It’s the easiest, most natural relationship I’ve ever been in.

You may be wondering how my relationships with them developed after the harsh rejection from Alexandra and the obvious irritation from Aidan. Well, turns out, Alexandra was fighting with her mom the day I texted her, and two days later she asked to come over, apologized, and the rest is history. With Aidan, I later learned he’s hard of hearing, and when I sat down and tried to introduce myself, I sat on his left side, which is his bad ear. (This doesn’t explain why he was such a jerk when he was tutoring me, but we moved past that phase of our friendship after winter quarter ended and I was done with stats.)

Alexandra and Aidan have more in common than I’m comfortable with. It feels like every time I learn something new about them, I can say, “Alexandra is the same way,” or “Aidan just told me the same thing.” It’s a bit of a joke in our friendship, because obviously I made the two of them become friends so I could spend time with my two favorite people at the same time. Unfortunately, a big thing they have in common is that they both left Seattle University fall quarter of this year, leaving me feeling completely alone and dreading the start of my junior year. Alexandra is currently studying abroad in Berlin, and when she comes back in January, I’m off to Mexico until April. This means we’ll go nine months without seeing each other, and the thought literally pains me. Aidan transferred to Washington State University, a sixish hour car ride away from Seattle University.

In high school, I always swore I would never do a long distance relationship. I hated the idea, and I thought they would never work. And admittedly, Aidan and I came pretty close to breaking up when he decided to transfer. Luckily, we agreed to give it a shot, and so far, so great. We’ve visited each other twice; I’m going to spend Thanksgiving with his family, and he’ll hopefully spend New Years Eve with mine. It’s not perfect, and I miss him all the time, but there have been upsides to it.

For one, I’m so productive now. My homework gets done the day its assigned, I have a clear idea of what every week looks like, and I can spend time with my friends without feeling like I should spend more time with him or vice versa. We Facetime a couple times a week, and when we see each other, it’s like no time has passed. Like I said before, I’m super in love with him. And the best part is, he’s super in love with me. So long distance can suck, and of course there have been times when I wish he had stayed, but at the end of the day, he’s happy there, and I’m happy here. I always thought I would need to be with my partner constantly, because I’m a really physically affectionate person, but this long distance relationship is working out so well for us. I’ve learned a lot about myself, including how to control my jealousy and not worry about the girls he mentions from his classes.

Long distance friendships aren’t entirely new to me, as my best friends moved to New York when we were in second grade, and we’re still friends. Plus, with Alexandra, it wasn’t even a question. She’s my other half, so of course we would still be friends when we both came back to Seattle. My big concern with us being apart for nine months was communication. We rarely text or Snapchat each other, and we had talked about writing letters while we were gone, but I wrote her one and still haven’t gotten anything back. With her being in Berlin, the time zones are extremely different, so while I get ready to start my day, she gets ready to end hers. In October, we Facetimed for the first time and talked for three hours. The next time we Facetimed, we talked for four. Because we rarely text, we always have a lot to fill each other in on our lives, which means the Facetime calls have ended out of necessity (needing to go get food, do homework, or it literally being 3 AM in Berlin). I miss her all the time, everyday, especially because we don’t talk often. But at the end of the day, she’s my best friend, and even if we don’t talk until I come back from Mexico, that isn’t going to change.

Both of them being gone means I really had to put myself out there this year. Alexandra kept reminding me that I don’t have to be friends with my roommates, I just had to be able to live with them. I took her advice and threw it out the window. I absolutely adore my roommates, so much so that Melissa and I will be pen pals while I’m in Mexico. We joke about who will take my place in the room when I’m gone and how they’re going to drive them out so I can live there when I come back. I spend most of my time in my room, not because I’m lonely or sad, but because I just really, really love my roommates.

Long distance relationships are undoubtedly hard, but if both parties are willing to put in the effort, they’re doable. And it does take a little extra effort, of course. After a week of Aidan and me missing each other’s calls, we made a tentative call schedule to make sure we talk on the phone at least once a week. Alexandra and I sometimes have to move things around because of the time difference to make sure we get to Facetime, but we both do it happily if it means we get to talk to each other. Although I originally thought long distance relationships were unrealistic, my opinion has changed. Sometimes it feels like a long distance (romantic) relationship is ideal in college, because I get to focus entirely on my work, and when we plan to visit each other, we both try to get all our work done beforehand so our attention is 100% on each other. I miss them both immensely, but when you love someone this much, you make it work.