I never thought that I would meet my boyfriend, the love of my life, straight out of high school. And I most definitely did not think that we would end up living in separate cities. I read articles and watched videos to become an expert on how to survive the miles between us, but I had no real idea of the effort it would take until I was actually in it.
After eight months of distance, I can see how the distance has helped our relationship grow stronger and more committed than ever.
My boyfriend moved four hours away from me for a job opportunity right at the beginning of summer. This left me with lots of free time and I couldn’t spend it with my favorite person. It also didn’t help that my car is older than I am and can’t be trusted on lengthy road trips. This resulted in seeing very little of each other, and our daily communication wasn’t much better. Because of his full, and sometimes unpredictable work schedule, it was hard to find time to talk. We tried planning our phone calls and FaceTimes, but that felt awkward and forced. The distance required us to learn how to have meaningful conversations that sometimes only lasted a few minutes.
Over time, we have learned that communication needs to be our #1 priority.
Sometimes it looks differently because of the distance. We write letters, FaceTime while making dinner and send each other care packages—the creativity makes it even more special. Distance has shown us how to communicate in a healthy way, and having developed this skill early on will only help us in the long run.
Experts say that fights are common in relationships, and that they can actually be a healthy thing. I disagree, especially in the case of long-distance relationships. After about 200 fights and disagreements, my boyfriend and I learned (and are still learning) that almost nothing is truly worth getting mad over. Disagreements are bound to happen, but we had to be willing to stay calm and remember that we are on the same team. So many issues and miscommunications can be handled better if you take things as they come and focus on the solution, not the problem.
On the rare occasions that we were together, I always tended to create unrealistically high expectations of what would happen.
I realized that not every reunion would resemble something from a movie. It’s not always a running through the airport, jumping into each other’s arms, strangers clapping, sparks flying, fantasy. Sometimes it’s long drives and showing up tired and late for a weekend that seems to fly by. But even though not every moment is perfect, it doesn’t mean that the special moments lose their value. During one of my favorite trips to see my boyfriend, we just sat on the beach talking and cuddled while watching movies. Reunions don’t have to appear magical to everyone else; all that really matters is spending time with the person you love.
The best advice I can think of for someone else in a long-distance relationship is to keep good friends close to you. Some of my loneliest nights turned into friends taking me on a 2 am cookie run while we sang our hearts out to Taylor Swift. Develop friends who support you and your relationship, encourage you and distract you when you’re lonely. Trust me, you’ll need it.
Not every long-distance relationship lasts, and even if it does, there’s plenty of heartache involved. But if it ends up working out, I promise it’s so worth it.