It starts with the goodbyes. No, it starts with the discussion. The first time you find out it’s a possibility. Then the day you find out it’s your reality. Time passes and you appreciate every last moment you have together. Every convenient and easy time you both can hold each other. Still, amidst the love and the reassurances, the denial of what is about to happen controls you. This is not real, you think. I’m too young to be in a long distance relationship. Everything was going so well. But that’s the exact issue. You are young, and you have no control. Things happen. Life is not fair, and this is your new reality. You just can’t picture it. The nights apart. The stories you’ll miss. Those moments he won’t be around for. Despite the inability to picture being long distance, you know that it’s going to happen whether you want it or not, so you have to decide: take a leap of faith or turn around and start over with someone else.
And so, you leap.
You agree to try. To stick around. To accept the unknown with the knowledge that it will be worth it. Maybe. With a bittersweet feeling you begin a long distance relationship. Maybe you knew this was going to happen all along. Maybe you were just in denial. Or maybe your universe did a full 180 and you’ve found yourself lying face up with your eyes tearing and your boyfriend far out of reach. Whatever it is that brought you here, you’re now in love with someone who is an infinite number of miles away, and you’ve never felt more alone.
The words “long distance” irk your whole being. Being reminded that he’s no longer here kills you. You never expected this to happen. You never wanted it to. You said you never would. But this is life, and life is not fair, and now you’re here and he’s there and fear hides in your heart from the very beginning. The goodbyes are probably the hardest. The hugs are all too emotional, the “I love yous” drip with insecurity. You have no idea what’s going to happen. You are unsure how either of you will function. But you’ve committed. You’ve agreed. You’re doing this, so you inhale slowly, and watch as life takes its course.
The first few days are uncomfortable. You think you’re doing okay. You’re distracted, confident, and texting each other when available. But something ticks and you can’t help but feel all choked up when you see another couple holding hands. You hold back tears after a stressful day at work, when all you want to do is to stroke his hair after a long shower. You cry to your mom, unable to make sense of your exact emotions. You’re not afraid of him being unfaithful, and you know you can have time apart. But what if that time apart changes him? What if it changes you? Logically, you see how things could be worse and you take it for what it is, but emotionally, you just need to cry. And you don’t need to validate that reason. It might only be four days, but it’s just the first four days, and that makes you sick to your stomach. You already miss him. His scent, his laugh, his arms wrapped around you at night. And it’s only the first four days. But you understand that this is what you’ll have to deal with, because this is life, and life is not fair.
Weeks pass and you feel better. You text, call, and FaceTime often. You’re busy with work and friends, he’s busy with work and friends. You’re capable of being independent, and you update each other daily. You know each other’s schedules, and tell each other stories about your day. Sometimes you feel like he’s still right there next to you, helping you finish that assignment, or watching you scroll through Twitter.
You still fight sometimes. These fights make you angry. You both question if you should keep going. If next month’s train ticket is worth a petty argument. But you solve things the same way you solved things when you were twenty minutes away from each other. You communicate, telling each other what makes you more comfortable, if it’s a “good morning” text, or a call every afternoon. You make time to remind each other how important your relationship is and why this is all worth it.
Some nights are harder than others. Some distances cause more issues than others. Some relationships don’t last, while some do. But every relationship is real, powerful, and full of passion. There was a reason you fell in love and, if worse comes to worst, a reason you could not stay together. No matter what, it will stay in your heart forever. He will stay there forever.
Someone once said, “Not everyone who comes into your life is supposed to stay there. Sometimes you’re just a weigh station. Love them while they are there, and love them when they move on. And trust that you will find your true home eventually.”
If you are currently in a long distance relationship, or have broken up because of the distance, just know that you are not alone. The fights and crying nights are healthy. The fear of losing him is to be expected. Thinking of him even after it ended is totally normal. Loving long distance is not easy, but it happens. And maybe, one day, your worlds will intertwine once more so you’re back together, miles closer than before. Either way, it will work out because that’s life… and sometimes life is fair..