Not Foregoing the Distance
How to appreciate long distance relationships and all their subtle silver linings.
By Jill Phelan, Saint Vincent University
With hook up culture in full swing, young adults and millennials have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they are afraid of commitment.
Just as the L-word has become as unmentionable as Voldemort’s name, commitment has become the new C-word (well, sort of). As a result, it’s no surprise that long distance relationships have become an even rarer beast than they used to be, back before commitment was a four letter word.
When faced with the decision to split or give a long distance relationship a go, most couples will call it quits, believing that cross country is too much work and destined to fail anyways.
I know that they’re not ideal and yes, they are difficult at times, but coming from someone who has done the long distance thing for over three years now, I’m here to say that it’s not nearly as bad as most people think. In fact, there are actually several upsides to being separated from your sweetie. Here are three upsides of being in a long-distance relationship.
1. Embrace the Space
Being apart from your significant other gives you a lot of time to work on yourself (you do you, Boo). Although it can be hard not being with your honey when you want to, there are other instances when it’s really nice to just have some alone time, trust me.
When Zack and I were in high school, we were together constantly because we loved being with each other. And whereas that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, I did notice that a lot of my identity became wrapped up in him.
Zack and I were growing together as a couple, but we also managed to remain independent individuals. For some couples, however, being with each other all the time can be more harmful than helpful. The individuals in the relationship begin to lose themselves, and they end up compromising who they are for the sake of the other person, which is unhealthy.
If you find yourself unable to function without your partner and need to be joined at the hip, you may want to rethink your relationship. You are not Brangelina; you are Brad and Angelina, dammit!
By living apart though, you have more opportunity to be yourself and do whatever it is you want. You’re no longer given the tempting opportunity to always be with your boyfriend or girlfriend, so you can take that time to hang out with your friends or knit or watch cat videos on YouTube.
Welcome the space because it can bring balance into your life. You have your much-needed alone time, and at the end of the day, you still have your Cupcake or Stud Muffin to cuddle up with next time you’re together.
You don’t need to put so much pressure on continually being with each other. Once you’ve accepted that you’re going to need to make that compromise, you’ll eliminate a lot of hardship for yourself.
2. Better Time Together
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: At times, being away from each other can really take its toll on you and your partner. Some nights I’ll lie awake at night unable to fall asleep because I’m just aching to be with Zack (I know, someone sign me up for a soap opera because that’s as melodramatic as it gets).
But as awful as that sounds, it’s those kinds of moments that improve the quality of the time we do get to share with one another. As with any relationship, after four and a half years of dating we’re bound to lose a little bit of our romantic spark. Every now and then, we get too comfortable and we take one another for granted—it happens.
However, only being able to see each other for short intervals every few weeks or so (and even every few months at times) can be a nice boost in morale, so to speak. It’s like watching your dogs run up to you at the front door when you’ve been gone all day. They’re just so happy to see you because they missed you so so much!
In a way, the distance helps to preserve the romance and keep it alive longer. You grow to cherish more deeply the time you share and you learn to make the most of what you have. It can be a great way to strengthen your bond as a couple and teach you to love more profoundly. Come on, what couples couldn’t use a little more of that in their lives?
3. Preparing for Better or Worse
Pretty much nothing puts your love through more trials than long distance relationships. Probably one of the hardest things Zack and I had to endure thus far was him going away to boot camp for four months, limiting our contact to hand-written letters and a few short phone calls.
We survived. We also gained the knowledge that we probably won’t have another test as difficult as that in our future. As a result, we emerged tougher and more confident as a couple. If you can endure a long distance relationship, you can look at your love’s durability as a testament of what you and your partner can accomplish.
Being apart from each other and learning how to work out your issues in less than ideal circumstances is good training for marriage, if matrimony is what you are both seeking. If you can stick by each other through the worst of times, then you’ll have no problem staying together in the best of times.
I know long distance relationships can seem frightening, and rightfully so, but believe me—they can turn out better than you ever imagined. Over time, you’ll adapt and learn how to make it work.
There will be compromise and hardship, but they will be well worth it if you can manage to weather the storm. So if you’re given the choice to leave the one you love or try to go the distance in spite of the distance, I encourage you to give it a shot.
If it doesn’t end up working out, at least you tried. But if you try and succeed, then just imagine how happy you’ll be knowing that you didn’t give up.