“I don’t think I’d ever be able to be apart that long.”
“How do you deal with not seeing her every few months?”
“Are you sure that she’s actually real?”
“Maybe when you meet, you two can see if there’s the potential for a relationship.”
The comments go on and on, but the past two years have been the most interesting, eye opening and wonderful years of my life. You always hear about long distance relationships when it comes to high-school sweethearts going to different universities, someone’s partner enlisting in the military, or someone who finds their relationship put on hold due to separation in some sort of way. But with today’s technology, mostly the internet – no one talks about the long distance relationships that begin before the two of you have even met.
For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been dating my girlfriend Liz for just over two years now and we only have met once in the six years or so that we have known each other. We met years and years ago through Twitter and our mutual fandoms, but then, I never thought that someone who is eight years older than me – not to mention someone who was the same gender as me – would ever be interested in a relationship. But here we are, two years into our relationship, and we’re finding ways to make it work.
The hardest part of our relationship is that we currently live an ocean apart – Liz lives in Scotland and I live in New York. Because of the cost of international flights and travel in general, it has made it nearly impossible for us to try and find a chance to meet up. In December, when I had the chance to go to London for almost two weeks, we discussed meeting but for various reasons, it wasn’t worth the short amount of time that we would have had together. But, after knowing each other for six or seven years – we finally had the chance to meet last week in Memphis.
The 3,000 mile difference between us is going to change this fall when I move to university in Brighton, and we’ll be about 500 miles apart instead. But the mileage between us has been a small road block in the growth of our relationship. For any long distance relationship – getting rid of that distance is simply another stepping stone, just like moving in together, or meeting your significant other’s family members.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the hardest part of a long distance relationship is the negativity that can surround you, your significant other, and the growth of your relationship. In any relationship, a part of it is being able to go to your friends or family and tell them things – as simple as when you realize that you’re interested in someone to many more serious things. But in a long distance relationship, a lot of those people who you can find yourself wanting to tell you about can be some of the most negative people around you. A lot of them will tell you that they’re bringing up their concerns out of worry, or because they want to “protect” you from your significant other, or simply because they don’t understand. But in the end, those factors can make or break a relationship – no matter how hard both parties are trying to make it work.
The last things that anyone is a relationship wants to hear are the doubts of people around them, especially when it comes to the people they are closest to. But when it comes to long distance relationships, these responses can often have a much more real impact on the person who is sharing them. Hearing negative comments about whether the relationship is “real” or “going to work because of the distance” is just as real as the worries about “if their friends like me” or “are they going to see something they don’t like?” or any sort of worry about why a relationship could fail. Unfortunately for me, a lot of comments, which I hinted at the beginning of this post, have been daily comments about the nature of my own relationship. But, as time as gone on, I have grown to ignore them, or explain to whoever has made the comment that they simply don’t understand how a long distance relationship works.
At the end of the day, a long distance relationship hold the same basic principles and basis as any romantic relationship – the ability to find someone who you can picture a future with, someone who is good for your mental health and someone who you can grown with. The distance aspect of the relationship can make things a lot more complicated when telling people about it, especially when it comes to an international relationship.
As with any relationship, the focus should always be on your significant other, where the relationship is going and finding a way to rid yourself of the distance for good – no matter what people outside of the relationship choose to focus on.