Sometimes I forget I was in a long distance relationship. I never mentioned it on my blog, despite having blogged throughout it all. I kept it vague, since it seemed personal. But since it’s in the past, it’s more of something I peer at curiously. Until now, I haven’t made a peep about it, but I think I’m fine with peepin’.
I will say that, before being in a long distance relationship, I had – like most people – read and heard a lot about being in one. It usually wasn’t ever good. And even if it was, it’d start off like “long distance might seem impossible, but with a little elbow grease, lots of communication and these 10 steps to follow, you and your boo with most definitely get through!” I skimmed these articles, but they all seemed a bit too upbeat and artificial for me. I, like most others, anticipated “long-distance relationships as something very hard, where the suffering is inevitable” (Thanks couplescoachingonline.com) Captions of long distance couples were mired in quivering vulnerability, and photos of too-happy long distance couples on Skype seemed contrived. They were happy. Too happy.
In retrospect, what was long distance for me, then? Too happy? Or was I quivering in my vulnerability? The first I will say, though, is that given the choice, I probably wouldn’t do it again. It’s like bungee jumping. You try it, it’s wild, you see new things, you plummet to new depths and soar to new heights, and that’s it. It’s off the bucket list. It’s time to drive back home in the rental, share a few photos on Facebook, and call it a life. Similarly, doing long distance, for me, has been checked off. Done and done, will not do again.
Long distance… was fine. Although inevitable, there was an end in sight. In the moment, for that year, it was just a tiny light at the end of a tunnel. We lived on different continents. We lived on opposite sides of the globe. We lived with different time zones. We lived with different types of people and went through different phases in life. We faced different challenges in our day-to-day and encountered different wins. Despite the differences, though, we still met halfway, with texts at odd hours of the day and coordinated calls in early morning or late night.
For the most part, I relished in the independence and interdependence. I liked being able to live my own life, spending time with my friends, making my own plans, but with a friendly romantic sidekick tucked in my iPhone. I liked having pockets of time that were mine, and pockets of time that were his. I liked meeting halfway with long texts or calls to fill each other in on the dramas of our life. Often we simply stayed silent on the phone, going about our day, the other person snoozing off in an earbud. We used lots of apps on our phone to hang out, from changing the song on Spotify, playing on a team in Fortnite, or beating each other’s asses on Words with Friends. Ultimately, though, it was like being alone while knowing I was never alone, because despite being on my own, there was someone there whom I loved and who loved me.
Granted, in every relationship, there are – as nearly all Facebook captions will attest – ups and downs. But truthfully, I don’t think there were any more or any less downs when we were long distance than when we were in person. It’s like working remotely: you still deal with work shit, but it’s just different. The trials and tribulations were different in nature, but neither worse nor better. So I wouldn’t say that being in a relationship, in person, was just so much smoother than being in a relationship with someone on the other side of the world. I’m pretty sure I threw the exact same number of tantrums regardless, but maybe that’s just me.
If I were to give advice to anyone about long distance relationships, though, I’d have to say that I have none. I think it just depends on the person and the partner. I think it boils down to the situation – if there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and how bright or far away it is – how they get along, how independent/interdependent/codependent they are, how much they trust each other, how much their futures align with each other, how well they respond to calls and texts, how good they are at Fortnite – at some point, we were down to two, just the two of us, screaming and hiding behind a rock – how able they are at creatively resolving virtual conflict, etc.
Some people could long distance all day long: they or their partner might travel constantly for work. Or they might simply prefer living in different states, countries, continents. Other people couldn’t do long distance if long distance did them. Even the thought of being separated for weeks or months on end, to them, is agonizing. I would say that I’m somewhere in between. I was fine with long distance as it happened, and I was fine with non-long distance as it ended. I was, as with my blog, happy to share my life through a screen, but I was also happy to share my life in real time. I lean towards the latter, being in real life, but that’s only healthy. After all, I think if I liked long distance a little too much, that’d be a little ‘spicious. (As I always say, why say ‘suss’ when you could say ‘spicious?’)
To anybody who is in a long distance relationship and reading this, I would like to extend a virtual hug, because it is not easy. To anybody who is in a in-person relationship and reading this, I would like you to extend a hug for your partner, because you are fortunate to be together. And to anybody who is not in a relationship and reading this, I will always extend a virtual hug, because hugs are the best.