Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

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They say long distance relationships will kill you. Well, do they though? That’s certainly not the case for me.

The funny thing about my long distance relationship is that we’re not a car, bus or train ride away from each other–but rather a plane. Yes, we’re in an international relationship. He lives in London, England (which is amazing because what girl doesn’t swoon over a cute English accent?) while I’m at Penn State University.

It’s interesting to see people’s reactions when I tell them that my boyfriend lives in London. They automatically assume that he’s over there to study abroad, until I inform them that he lives there year-round. People always question why we’ve stayed together and how we manage to keep our relationship so steady. I simply tell them that love is love, and when you love someone you’ll do anything in your power to keep the relationship strong.

We met out in Los Angeles over the summer, where we were both doing the same internship program. The two of us, along with about six other people, were the only ones who were of age to go out to the bars–yesulting in us spending a lot of time going out together, where we would mostly end up in a corner just talking to each other.

Of course feelings developed: One thing led to another and sooner or later we were “dating,” or at least that’s what everyone else in the program defined us as. It felt like we were on MTV’s Real World but instead of living in an amazing apartment we lived in campus dorms (gross). We had no choice but to get extremely comfortable early on in the program. I actually think this is one of the reasons why we hit it off so easily.

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Kristen Baker

In due time, we basically became a married couple. However, being young adults in this generation, we didn’t want to DTR (define the relationship). We just assumed that since we were only talking to or “hooking up” with each other, then we were automatically in a relationship. Kind of.

I was never the kind of person to be in a relationship. I had “flings” here and there that turned out to be nothing but a waste of time, so initially I was afraid to open up to him. But somehow, I let my guard down on the last night of the program. We were talking and there was some alcohol involved, which made it easier to get my feelings out–which is something I never do.

We began talking about ‘us’ and what we were going to do after we left the program. Without any warning, I completely broke down and told him I loved him.

Now, when I said I never let my feelings out, I meant it. I have never said the “L” word to any boy in my life. At first I was scared he wasn’t going to say it back but then he did, and I couldn’t have been happier. Which led us to our long distance relationship today.

We keep each other on our toes and joke around constantly, and I think that has to do a lot with how well we get along. Unlike the psychotic girlfriend that most of us know (heck, some of us probably are her), I don’t get mad when he goes out with his friends to the club. I’m not even in the same country as him–if I tell him no it’s not going to stop him. I let him do his own thing and he lets me do mine, and at the end of his night (which is roughly around 10 p.m. for me), he will call me and tell me what happened, and vice versa for me. We ultimately have extreme trust in each other.

I had a talk with him the other day about how he thinks our relationship is different than those who are in long distances relationships within the same country. In his adorable accent, he said, “I think we’re a bit exotic–I mean do you ever stop and think that you have an English boyfriend? I always think it’s exciting that I have an American girlfriend.”

Since we left LA, we’ve only seen each other one for a week when he came to visit for Halloween–no, FaceTime doesn’t count as seeing each other–so when we do get to physically be with each other, it’s almost as if we’re getting pampered. I’m visiting him over Christmas break and I couldn’t be more excited.

Mainly, we are each other’s first loves and even though we are an ocean apart, that doesn’t stop us from loving each other any less.

LDRs are a staple in many students’ lives. And even though some may not work out, this will make you believe in true love again.

Written by Jacob Deliz.

More often than not, the emotional hardships that come with long distance relationships can make you feel anchored beneath a rain cloud. Yet, I know from personal experience that happiness and fulfillment in a relationship aren’t an impossibility when your significant other lives miles and miles away. It takes hard-willed sacrifice and trust to maintain a healthy romance; but with the many difficulties there comes this ability to not only grow within the relationship, but to furthermore evolve with its essence.

Yes, that LDR is tough, but check out why distance makes the heart grow fonder.

1. You’ll appreciate their efforts even more

Putting forth effort in long distance relationships can feel like you alone are pushing a boulder up the steepest hill. Locational boundaries from two different worlds collide, often making it harder to talk on the phone, Skype or even see each other. “It makes you realize how much work a relationship takes and, because of that, how much you truly miss someone,” said University of California, Los Angeles junior Hayden Meacham. However, acknowledging that your significant other shares the same experience as you can help both sides to appreciate the effort it takes to nurture a successful relationship. Knowing that you’re both in the same boat can make the distance a little easier to manage.

2. You’ll savor any Time Spent Together

After being geographically separated for a while, spending time with your significant other becomes a surreal experience. It feels as if time stops and you’re drifting with the clouds. “Being in that sort of situation helps you appreciate the time you have with your significant other,” said UCLA senior Lauren Jeon. “And it makes you not take them, as a person, for granted,” she added. Both lovers are aware of the clock ticking, so time spent together carries on as a familiar dream, tightening the emotional bond. A date after a long-awaited reunion often feels like a fairytale, or a magical and happy moment after so much longing.

3. You’ll learn how to prioritize Other Relationships

The common tale never dies. Friends can’t find a balance between their social life and spending time with their significant other. For long distance couples, the story goes differently. Because being away gives you free range in your social sphere, upon returning to your love, you’ve already mastered how to differentiate between alone-time with your significant other versus alone time with your friends. By learning how to respect the time you have with friends, you also figure out how to prioritize the other relationships in your life. For example, it won’t be hard to tell whether dinner with your friends merely fits the quota for social interaction or if they really want to spend time with you, because you’ll have that time to develop and work on relationships with your friends.

4. It Gives You Space for Self-Searching

On more than one occasion, you may catch yourself wondering if you have enough room to breathe in your relationship. Luckily, for couples in long-distance relationships, this doesn’t need to be the case. Thanks to locational barriers, one can ponder life without finding yourself overwhelmed by their partner’s ambitions, desires or needs. “I think being in a long-distance relationship can help on a few levels,” said senior Jason Lee. “For one, it gives you space to blossom yourself, which I see as critical to fertilizing the relationship. Life permits change, and working together to adapt with those changes is what love is about.” Watching your significant other accomplish goals in their niche ―whether it be landing a top internship, or running a club―while you have your own space to do the same, can be rewarding on its own.

5. It Makes You Value Your Independence

When you’ve grown accustomed to reassuring embraces, the way you laugh at movies together, or have yet to wash their “smell” from your jacket, it may feel impossible to cheer up on a rough day. But once daily routine sets in, and your confidence rebuilds, the world becomes yours. “I think people can blossom within relationships, but not because of them―I think it helps you place value in your own independence,” said Shelby McClelland, a junior at New York University. You’ll be more wary about checking for food in between your teeth, or you’ll turn that once a week jog into a daily habit. Having the capability to stand alone with pride will only benefit you. Beyond that, you definitely won’t find your SO turning needy.

6. Duration Creates an Inseparable Bond

“[Long distance] is no one’s choice, but you have an inseparable bond no matter the distance. My boyfriend and I probably won’t communicate any differently, but the duration of time, and everything you go through by then, blossoms the relationship,” said UC Berkeley senior Ben Papadopoulos, whose boyfriend lives in India. The longing experienced from separation tightens promises and expectations to each other. When you’re not next door to your partner, the swelling in your heart increases those feelings of unabridged, raw love. Knowing that someone halfway around the world thinks about you day and night attests to the power of love

7. You’ll strengthen the trust between you and your SO

If you don’t have trust in the relationship, or moreover in yourself, how would you expect anything meaningful to last? But an LDR can actually increase that trust, because it’s essential. My story goes like this: five days before I headed off to UCLA, my best friend finally decides she likes me back (after a year of irrational effort on my end). Would we even work? I reasoned my skepticism was caused by the pressure of my time left, and I knew both of us loved each other enough to make things work. After all, we knew each other since grade school, had been best friends for two years (an unabridged, honest, friendship), so the foundation for a lasting relationship was already set. With mutual trust and understanding, we decided to brand ourselves a long-distance couple, but not after establishing that this is what we want, what we will work for. 

8. It gives you a chance to relearn communication skills

In my LDR, frustration sometimes pokes when I miss out on fun nights or adventures my girlfriend has without me. Learning ways to communicate and problem-solve from afar can be challenging, but because issues can’t be resolved immediately, long distance relationships become like glass. Having one requires patience, care and acknowledgement that the situation is fragile yet, despite all of this, you’ll build a willingness to work at it. And thanks to your LDR, the patience required for such tedious communication is universally-applicable, from dealing with an enraged customer at work to confronting annoying roommates.

9. You can avoid Expectation

After spending so much time together, the presence of your significant other can become an expectation rather than a gift. “At some point, it’s possible that you stop appreciating the time spent with them,” said UCLA senior Raj Ukani. “By avoiding expectation, you appreciate the small amount of time you get to spend together, no matter what you do.” In long-distance relationships, the lack of physical presence paves way to a sense of longing. And with this longing, comes appreciation. You’ll be more prone to treating each other as privileges rather than viewing the other as a dreaded obligation. The long-awaited embrace you yearn for will, like wine, get better as it ages and, before you know it, each trip to visit them will feel as if you’re falling in love again for the first time.

10. You’ll understand the larger gestures

Finally, being in a long distance relationship helps one appreciate the financial strain traveling does to an individual. Money doesn’t come by easy for many, so knowing your SO works longer hours or pinches pennies just to save enough to come visit will feel humbling. Why? Because it serves as an unspoken statement regarding their love for you.

Updated on October 20, 2017 by Jacob Deliz to include 10 Reasons Why Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder. 

Kristen Baker a senior at Penn State University enjoys producing multimedia pieces ranging from written to visual and audio

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