My boyfriend and I are long distance for the second time in our relationship, not counting our month-long Christmas Break. The first time was last summer and fall, when we went a whole 9 months (3 months longer than we’d actually been dating at that point) apart. The first leg was our summer vacation. I was interning at a PR firm in New York, he was working in Denver. We left Los Angeles the first week of May, and promised to FaceTime nightly, and to call whenever possible.
I was terrified.
This is my first really real relationship. We began ~officially dating~ in November 2015 after a month of denial and late-night car rides along the PCH. We never planned to date (err, I didn’t plan to date – he was fully intent on it from the get-go), and dating someone new was terrifying. He came in a long line of Terrible Boy Mishaps that left me worried and nervous about talking to any guy other than my dog, Enzo.
Summer 2016 was our official test. Dating at school was one thing, but this was an entirely new can of worms. Our rooms were literally down the hall from each other at school, and we would hang out between classes for grab late night In-N-Out. He was always fifty feet away when I’d failed a test or needed a squeeze. Now, he was 2,000+ miles and a two-hour time difference away.
We made it through the first leg no issue: he came to visit me a few times in New York and I flew to Denver for his cousin’s wedding. It was easy because I was free at 5:30 on weekdays and he finished work around 1 pm his time, so evenings were always free. I never worried about him not being there.
The second leg was during our time abroad. I was studying and interning in London and he was in Budapest. I promised myself I wouldn’t see him too often, that I would focus on making new friends with the people on my program, that I would ~peak~. Ultimately, I felt the strain of 5 months of consistent phone calls and we ended up hanging out every other weekend or so. We ate (too much) in Paris, saw Van Gogh in Amsterdam, had our one-year anniversary in Brussels, and celebrated my 21st in Florence. I surprised him for his birthday in Budapest and he took me to my first thermal-bath. We made it work somehow, catching up over breakfast and during my lunch breaks.
Abroad was harder. We were busier than over summer, and ran on different schedules. FaceTime sessions were irregular, and often for only ten minutes or so. I cherished the weekends together cooped up in our various Air BnBs. We kissed under the Eiffel Tower at midnight. It really was a fairytale.
This summer is perhaps the most difficult. We are older and nearly 2 years in. This scares me because I have no idea how to be a two-year girlfriend. I text his mom on a semi-regular basis and he calls my sister just to catch up. If this is normal, I’m into it. But honestly, cuddling sounds better than falling asleep on FaceTime for the 5th time this week.
Long distance makes it hard to feel connected. That’s always what I seem to hear. I believe it now. It’s hard to feel beautiful – dare I say “sexy”, as I am not someone who my considers myself that way – without him here. I’m not dependent on him for my self-worth or self-image, but I’m finding it harder to dress a certain way because I know that he won’t see it. Am I going absolutely insane? I’m an independent person, someone who never wanted to date until post-grad. But now I’m here. And that’s scary. It’s all scary, I guess.
But maybe it’s making us stronger. When you have a finite amount of time together, you make things work. You compromise and you adjust and you learn to love independently of your lover. You learn to love someone beyond a physical connection. You have to. I know now we are stronger than when I left school last May, or even when we left school last month. We laugh more, we talk more, we talk through our disagreements because, in the end, silent, separated, anger is the worst kind.
I’m excited to see this continue, and I’m excited to see him. But, in the meantime, FaceTime FTW.