*Disclaimer: I am in no way a counselor of any kind but this is my experience and I wanted to share it.
Relationships are hard. I think anyone could have told you that one. I have been in a relationship for three and a half years, and three of those years have been spent doing long distance. Like seven hours away long distance. So, I personally can attest to how difficult it is to maintain a relationship. Being in a relationship for such a long period of time means growing a lot together and sometimes that means your relationship has to go through some changes, which may not always be easy.
This summer brought about a lot of change for me. I grew tremendously as a person and became far more independent than I had ever been. However, this caused a bit of trouble. Most of my years at school had been spent making my next move for when I would see my boyfriend and that deprived me of much of my college experience. It also didn’t help that I was doing schoolwork and homework for 14 hours a day, so my mental health was in the toilet. So, I focused on when I would be able to see the person who made everything in my life feel okay. But this summer was the summer where I chose myself. I found my friend group, I realized that he was not the only one that I needed to be with to feel okay. I got a little carried away though. I became so focused on my independence and hanging out with my friends, that I took a step away from prioritizing my relationship. I hadn’t yet figured out how to balance the two because we were always in the same friend group in high school. My boyfriend and I became strangers. During this time, however, we were able to enjoy time independently as our own people. We were growing. But the thing is, we were growing apart.
Fast forward to the end of the summer and all of my friends had left to go back to school. I was feeling a little hollow at the prospect of summer ending along with all the amazing times I had. And that was when my boyfriend and I got to talking. It was more like fighting. Fighting about how I wasn’t around much this summer, or how he was too close to his coworker, or how I wasn’t invited to events with his friends. I felt like I didn’t even know who he was anymore. This broke me. The person who I used to seek comfort in felt like a stranger and I didn’t even know how to make everything go back to normal. He had suggested taking a break which I aggressively rejected. I wasn’t ready for this to end. It couldn’t. I wanted to grow together not grow apart. This could be fixed. It had to be because I don’t know how I could handle it if it didn’t.
We eventually went our separate ways to school, seven hours away from each other. We both agreed to facetime every day as we had done for the past three years but this year was different. I found myself not wanting to talk or even running out of things to talk about. He was uninterested in the conversation and most of the time we ended up just ending the call within minutes. Our texts all day would consist of one-worded answers back and forth. Life was dull and sad, and I didn’t know what to do.
My boyfriend plays college hockey and so this makes planning trips to see each other even more difficult. Our fall breaks ended up aligning, however, we decided it would be best if he came to Burlington for a visit, especially because he hadn’t ever spent time here with me. Even though we had been together for so long I felt so giddy and nervous about him coming for the weekend because everything felt new. I felt like we were two new people going on our first date. At first, things were a little odd but as the weekend progressed, everything returned to being normal and happy. From then on, we have been better than ever.
I am not in any way saying fighting is good, or that you should condone a toxic relationship, but sometimes it’s essential to realize that no relationship is perfect. It is okay to struggle but how you deal with those relationship struggles is what counts. It is so important to grow as people because in the long run, it helps the overall health of your relationship. Sometimes you need to go through those rough patches to strengthen your relationship. I think the realization that it’s okay to be independent and want to figure out who you are and who your friends are, especially at such a young age is key, but incorporating your partner into that process is what’s going to lead to the success of your relationship.
Just remember, life is hard, relationships are hard, but it is okay for your relationship to not be okay.
Edited by Rose Kaufmann