I am by no means, an expert on relationships. In fact, I’m probably the last person you should ask for relationship advice. Nevertheless, as a result of my solo lifestyle I have by default, often been the third-party outsider who has witnessed both the successes and failures of a number of relationships.
Though the majority of these relationships worked out for better or worse (for varying reasons) it seems there is one common issue that stands alone as the ultimate test of a relationship’s strength. The impending doom of long-distance.
Now I’ve seen it done – both gracefully and clumsily – but nevertheless, successfully. But in spite of these couples making it out alive, sometimes by the skin of their teeth, the question that remains is if enduring the trials and tribulations of long-distance is ultimately worth the (usually) happy reunion.
So is the old adage true that distance makes the heart grow fonder? While our generation’s general response to this question is either an adamant “absolutely not, long-distance isn’t realistic” or “yes, it made my relationship so much stronger”, there is little common opinion on the matter. So I asked the experts (my sisters, naturally) who had largely varying experiences with the dreaded long-distance relationship to see what they had to say.
Keep in mind that they had largely different experiences, though both stemmed from already stable, long-term, high school relationships. Taylor, having to endure distance from her boyfriend, who, being a year older left her back home to head to college across the country and Whitney, having to part ways with her high-school sweetheart to attend colleges nearly 9 hours apart. Neither situation a walk in the park and neither with a textbook solution.
I asked both Taylor and Whitney what the hardest part was about being in a long-distance relationship and while their answers were slightly different as they pertained to their unique situations, both lamented the absence of real human connection.
The Lala: What was the hardest part about being in a long-distance relationship?
Whitney: Obviously, missing your significant other is first and fore most the hardest part because you miss them all the time. Secondly, setting the right kind of boundaries is extremely difficult because you’re basically taking your relationship and experiencing it in a whole new context. Establishing new patterns turns your relationship on its head.
Taylor: I agree, because you are so used to being together and having consistent habits, having to separate those two lives and accommodate for new habits is really difficult. You have to acknowledge their schedule and make time around that schedule even just to chat, there’s no opportunity to just say “Hey I’ll be over in twenty minutes” instead its “I’ll see you in 20 days”.
The Lala: Are there any benefits to a long-distance relationship?
Whitney: It puts your relationship into perspective in terms of whether or not it will work. My friends and I like to say, “Well if it’s not going to work now, it’s not going to work ever”. It shows you what your relationship is made of.
Taylor: Definitely, I also think it makes the time you spend together more special because you know you only have so much time together.
Whitney: Absolutely, it makes you recognize and appreciate the little stuff. Those things you miss about your boyfriend or girlfriend that wouldn’t stand out to you during the day to day. It also forces you to communicate more frequently and more effectively, even if it’s talking on the way to class just to hear their voice.
The Lala: Were there any points at which you wanted to call it quits? If so how did you get through it?
Taylor: Yes, there were quite a few of those times. Mostly these times stemmed from trust issues. For the sake of not worrying, there were times where I just wanted to put my mind to rest. In those situations, you have to take a step back and remember what values are at the foundation of your relationship. Most of the time, I realized that what I was worrying about in the moment was infantile in comparison to how important our relationship on the whole was. It comes down to getting through these issues one day at a time.
Whitney: Not necessarily call it quits but there were moments that tested our relationship in terms of putting effort into making it work. We both had to pull our own weight and when that didn’t happen, it’s very discouraging. I had to decide that if he wasn’t going to choose me, I had to look out for myself and move on. I began to understand that if it didn’t work out it would all be okay.
The Lala: In spite of any issue that might arise, is it worth it to endure the struggles of long-distance?
Whitney: Yes, while it’s hard, and especially hard to see other couples getting to experience college together, if it’s the right person, they are worth compromising for.
Taylor: I think when all is said and done, you have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons. The question is if your love is enough, and sometimes it isn’t. The important thing is to keep a finger on the pulse of your relationship and remind yourself to have realistic expectations because things will definitely be different when you finally see each other again.
Whitney: Definitely, just because both our relationships worked out, doesn’t mean everyone’s will because it’s all about the effort you put into it. We’re all still so young, that if you’re happy now that’s great but if you’re not happy tomorrow you can make changes to make it work. You have to be willing to buckle your seat belt and prepare for a bumpy ride. In the end, it’s all about the final destination which ultimately should be a happy and healthy place for the both of you.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t up at this place, long-distance is not meant to be easy and if it doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean that it never will. Only you know what you can handle, and at the end of the day it’s about your own happiness. Self-love is the basis of any ability to love another and if you’re lucky you’ll get that same kind of love in return – and that’s worth it.