Dealing with the distance

If there’s one thing that causes people to pull their hair out in frustration, it’s relationships. And the Internet has been a mixed blessing in terms of dating. We can meet people from around the world and create long-lasting friendships, but taking it to the next level is a difficult step if you live in different states.

That’s the situation I’ve been in for the last four years. My boyfriend lives in California, and as difficult as it is trying to get your life together as a college student, being in a long distance relationship provides a new level of problems. As wonderful as it is to video chat with him, it’s painful to see Facebook posts of events you won’t get a chance to go to. It’s fun to talk about the future, but how can we build a future together if we don’t live in the same state?

Like any relationship, it’s all about compromise. It’s a little difficult to do that when you can’t physically be with the other person, but it is possible. Even if it seems a little cheesy. If it’s been a busy week for us, we’ll set a time for us to have a date night. We’ll pick a movie, get some snacks and watch it together while being on the phone. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s something to look forward to. We share a Netflix account, so we’ll add movies to our queue and watch them on our dates.

One thing that does take a while to accept is that you won’t meet their friends. This brings issues of trust to a new level. You don’t know who those people are, but keep in mind your partner doesn’t know your friends either. There isn’t one thing you can do to make it easier, but a few smaller things really matter: answering the phone around friends, adding the closest ones on Facebook, giving a little bit of background information on new friends goes a long way.

Another thing, which seems a bit narcissistic, is taking pictures when you go out. Whether they’re of you and your friends, your food, the venue or something funny or weird, taking pictures makes it feel like your partner is there with you, sharing that moment together, instead of just hearing about it.

As difficult as it can be sometimes, it is rewarding in a way other relationships can’t be. You get to know who your partner is as a person, not just as projection of who you want them to be. You love them for who they are, and they love you for the same reasons. It’s a wonderful feeling not having to hide certain parts of who you are. It’s a level of intimacy more frightening than physical intimacy, and finding someone willing to be that open with you is something many go their entire lives trying to find but are unable to.

Every relationship takes work. A long distance one isn’t more difficult, just different. It takes a bit of creativity to make it, but when you’ve found the right person, it doesn’t matter if they are 20 or 2,000 miles away — it’s all worth it in the end.

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