Learning to Love Despite the Distance

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In today’s world, it’s hard to plan your life around another person. With all the opportunities for travel, the numerous methods of communication available across miles and oceans and the need to search for jobs in thriving communities, it’s hard to imagine why you’d let another person’s interests hold you back. Yet, more and more people are choosing to stay in relationships with these issues and the miles growing between them.

According to the most recent statistics on long distance relationships (LDRs), published in 2005 by the Former Center for the Study of Long Distance Relationships, approximately 14-15 million people considered themselves in an LDR. This number is about 30 percent higher than the number of people in LDRs in 2000, increasing by about 839,000 people in the five year period.

With the numbers of LDRs on the rise, it’s important to ask: why are more people choosing to bear the distance despite the apparent belief that long distance is the wrong distance?

Despite the common notions and conceptions surrounding LDRs, they are ultimately just like any other relationship. Their foundation is the same — they rely on love, trust and communication. While the distance and the lack of a physical relationship may magnify the problems in a relationship and with communication as a daily struggle, there’s something to be said for missing someone. By not having someone in your life for weeks or months at a time, you realize how much you enjoy having that person around, eventually counting the days until you see them next.

My LDR developed at the end of my senior year of high school. We had been in school together since junior high and had only lived about two blocks away since we were young, but had never actually met until the end of high school. Our relationship developed after prom and continued into summer, and by the time I was going off to school and he was staying at home, we casually thought we’d try to keep it together. Our relationship was the first relationship we both had been in, so it was difficult to let go of something that was just beginning.

While my relationship developed out of the “high school sweetheart” scenario, other LDRs unfold when people meet online, through dating sites or social networking sites. Though there is a certain amount of anonymity on the internet, many people choose to trust in the non-physical, purely communicative relationships they may have for someone online.
Many times I’ve found myself tempted to delete my Facebook in order to focus on more tangible things in my life, but then I remember one of the major ways I keep in contact with my partner and see what is going on in his life is through Facebook. I already lack a number of ways to communicate with my partner and it’s hard to imagine losing another.
Some LDRs stem from military relationships, in which someone falls in love with someone who committed their life or will eventually commit their life to the military. Many of these relationships have been documented on reality television programs or talk shows where couples are reunited after months or years apart.

I’ve been in an LDR for almost three years now and it hasn’t always been easy. I started out college with a number of friends also in LDRs, but I saw these other relationships quickly dissolve, and understandably so. LDRs aren’t what one envisions their college years to be like and wasn’t what I had imagined for myself. It’s hard to be surrounded by so many new people and exciting opportunities, while keeping yourself attached to parts of your former life.

Yet, there’s something to be said for having the independence that being in an LDR affords you. In some sense it’s as if I’ve been single since I started college and have had to focus on what I want out of life apart from a relationship or dating. And still, at the end of the day, I have someone to talk to about what’s going on in my life, my concerns, my joys and even just the boring day-to-day things.

Being in an LDR, I’ve learned it’s important just to take it each day at a time. Rather than focusing on how long you may be apart or what the future will be like, it’s important to just wake up everyday and question whether you can still be happy when someone you love is far away.

At the end of the day, no amount of inspirational quotes, Reddit posts or movies streaming on Netflix about LDRs will make you realize whether or not your relationship is worth the distance. It’s about feeling each day out and coming to terms with what feels right for you.