From Live-in to Long Distance: Everything my Long Distance Relationship Taught me about Love, Life, and Myself
I may have single-handedly spiked the hydro bill for my apartment building for September and October last year. For two months after my boyfriend left for basic military training in September, I slept with the bathroom light on. I kept my bedroom door ajar so the light would peek through. I had convinced myself I could compensate for the empty space in the bed and the lack of cuddles with the bright white light of a 60 watt bulb. Don’t question the logic of it—love and loneliness make you do strange things.
Nothing had prepared me to go from having a live-in boyfriend to a long distance lover overnight. The longest he and I had ever been apart before he left for Middle-of-Nowhere, Quebec, was 11 days. I’ve been living with him for three and a half years, seeing him practically every day, sharing everything from bathrooms to secrets, and now there I was, cuddling a damn pillow, lightly spritzed with his cologne, and wondering how people could have significant others who live in other cities, in other countries, on other continents.
I had to learn how to buy groceries for one person (I shamefully admit I wasted so much produce those first few months), and cook meals for one. I adjusted to doing the dishes and making the bed and cleaning the bathroom and sweeping the floors and doing all that other domestic stuff all by myself, even when I was exhausted, because when you live alone, there’s no one to split the chores with. When we shared good news, there were no hugs and kisses, just emojis and Skype calls. I dared not forget my keys or leave the stove on, because I’d have to call the super instead of sheepishly calling him, and I promise, she would not find my forgetfulness nearly as endearing as he would. And a bonus, being a military long-distance girlfriend meant that some special occasions had to be celebrated via FaceTime and iMessage because he wasn’t able to come home. Hurray for long distance relationships!
But as crappy as all of that sounds, I’ve learned so much about myself and relationships over the past few months that make me (grudgingly) thankful for having experienced long distance love.
solitude is a gift
Don’t get me wrong, I would still much rather have him here, but being forced to be alone has given me time to really check in with myself and enjoy my own company. I’ve rediscovered the greatness of reading in the bathtub, which I can now do because no one else is waiting to shower. I’ve learned I’m actually pretty good at making shrimp a hundred different ways, an experiment I was only able to complete because I wasn’t worried about giving my boyfriend food poisoning. Being alone isn’t all bad.
Reunions are the best.
You know those scenes in the movies where lovers are reunited and they run across the airport into each other’s arms and everything stops while beautiful music plays softly in the background? Ok, it’s hardly ever like that, but when you’re seeing the person you love after months away, there will be some running, jumping, and prolonged hugging. People will probably walk around you with mildly annoyed expressions and the muffled airport announcement will be your only musical accompaniment, but it will still be glorious. Not to mention catching up on movie dates, dinner outings, and…other night time activities.
Your communication skills become A1.
If your relationship is going to survive being thousands of miles apart, communication is key. It’s virtually the only connection you have to each other seeing as touch is entirely out the window (i.e. when you’re upset, you can’t just have angry sex and forget about it). I’ve always been one to talk about my feelings, but my boyfriend and I have learned how to really talk about how we’re handling things, what we’re having trouble with, and what kind of support we need. I never get tired of how often we say “I love you” and those good morning texts are a hundred times sweeter.
Am I glad that this long distance thing has an expiry date? Absolutely (I’m counting the days ‘til February 2018)! Can long distance relationships work long-term? I don’t think so, not for me anyway. Are they for everybody? Definitely not! But I’m glad to know that love does indeed conquer plenty and distance definitely does make the heart grow fonder. With a little work and the right perspective, a thousand miles can’t stop true love.