My boyfriend and I have been living in different cities for the past 13 months. At first, we lived in separate cities in California. Matters were made worse, though, when he moved across the country six months ago. What distance used to be a one hour flight or a long drive become a nine hour ordeal of travel each way by planes, trains and automobiles. Plus, our nightly talks have been curtailed to every other night due to the three hour time difference between us. He needs to be in bed by 11 PM Eastern time, which is 8 PM Pacific time. It is difficult for me to get home from work and prepare for a nightly talk by 7 PM or 7:30 PM each night. Suffice it to say that the long distance has put a damper on the daily activities of our relationship.
Exploring a church in Naples
Before my boyfriend moved to the east coast, we did not consider ourselves to be in a long distance relationship. Despite the fact that we were living in different cities we were still able to talk to each other every night and spend at least one week together each month. And, as I said, if we were missing each other, I could jump in the car, drive a few hours and spend the weekend with him. The lack of everyday physical involvement in each other’s lives was not hindering our relationship significantly. In fact, given the amount of time that we spent talking via text messages, phone calls and facetime, the physical distance between us may have helped prevent us from suffocating each other.
Enjoying the rose gardens in San Jose
That all changed when my boyfriend moved to Washington D.C. to pursue work. Once he moved away, many things changed. He was no longer available to text message frequently during the day or call for short chats when he had a free moment. He was now understandably busier throughout the day. Also, once he left his home state, visiting time became split between me and his family. His parents were now seeing him only a few times each year. I appreciate that his family is very important to him, so I accepted the need to split visits between us. However, now we find ourselves in a situation where we spend at least $250 to travel nine hours each way to see each other for two to three days once per month. This would be exhausting for any couple, but it is even more cumbersome for a couple that is still growing in their relationship. The only bonus is that I am racking up Southwest bonus points.
After our long and crazy hike in Kauai
How do you grow closer as a couple when your relationship is strained by distance? How do you develop deeper intimacy with one another when you cannot spend time together on a daily basis?
My boyfriend and I have gone through many ups and down that couples usually undergo during the development of their relationship. However, they are often exacerbated by our separation. Without the ability to discuss issues or reconcile in person, we are left wanting more and obligated to have complete faith in each other’s words alone. We have also undergone problems that arise only when you are apart. Our relationship has been strained, tested, seemingly broken, but ultimately proven. This is no easy task, though. At times, it took all of my mental and emotional strength to make our relationship work.
Going through his baby photos at his parents’ home
However, separation also allows a couple to grow stronger in ways that togetherness does not afford. Too often, couples come together out of convenience or “for fun” rather than love. This leads them to fall apart when difficulties hit, which leaves broken hearts for those who assumed that time together equated intimacy. Long distance relationships force you to grow your bond through conversations alone. You may get some small gifts along the way as well.
Waiting for the fireworks on Independence Day
You have to genuinely and enthusiastically be interested in the person you are dating. You must make a concerted effort to focus on why this person and this relationship is worth your time in order to lift the strain of distance. The lack of physical intimacy, the inability to romance with frequent dinners and more ensure that you are in your relationship only for the love of your significant other. Without these perks (or distractions), you are left with only your affection and personalities to ameliorate your relationship through the trial of distance.
My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly two years. We did not anticipate that the distance between us would last this long when it first began in January 2015. But, it is common for college sweethearts to migrate to different parts of the country upon graduation for work. It is only now that we have a solid plan and working timeframe to bring about an end to our separation. We have managed to grow closer, fall more in love and rely upon each other more in spite of our distance. We have both already made sacrifices and career choices in order to facilitate the future of our relationship. Now that our separation is finally ebbing, I think that it has prepared us for the more serious start of our lives together. We are not only eager to be together, we now appreciate each other more. And, now more than ever, we are in agreement regarding the consequential points of our relationship. I do not know whether or not we would have reached this appreciation and resolution by now had we been living in the same city.
Exploring Washington D.C. together
So, this homage is to all of the couples who have made their relationships work despite the distance between them. You must have built a strong relationship in order to undergo the journey of separation and come out whole in the end. For those who are enduring the course of long distance relationships, I hope that each of you have a relationship built upon a genuine foundation strong enough to withstand this time. Although it is not easy, I hope that it is worth it for you as it has been for me.