When I first met Luke, I knew I was going to Chicago and then on to Europe. Within 3 weeks, we were dating, and 2 weeks after that I moved back to Chicago.
I should say I haven’t had a relationship before. Of course there have been casual things, or those that didn’t last. But I knew this was different. Which, I think, is why I fought so hard to make this work.
I wanted to write about being in a long distance relationship, because the stigmatization of LDRs is so toxic and I’m glad I never succumbed to the hopelessness that people (even CLOSE friends and family) perpetuated by telling me that it wouldn’t work out.
Of course, going to Chicago for my sophomore year after dating for less than a month, I figured it was easy and that I could handle it. Distance was nothing. Except it was everything, and I mean that in the best and the worst ways. I learned more about myself through Luke in that first month without seeing him than I have from anyone else.
I don’t want to get too weird explaining everything, but I want to do my experience justice. I began to see what it felt like to really, truly love someone. My family ties strengthened, my friendships (that mattered) deepened, and I began to value myself through valuing someone else.
I think it’s dangerous to tell girls that they shouldn’t get in a relationship when they are self-conscious or sad. As someone with depression, I think that getting into a relationship and learning how to love someone else is what helped me start loving myself.
Regarding the LDR stigma, can we all agree to stop blaming failing long distance relationships on the distance? I never experienced feelings that made me want to end things because of the distance. And I think it’s fair to say that long distance relationships are fragile and prone to breakups. All it comes down to (in my opinion) is trust, and if you have that, the relationship should succeed.
I never thought I would be strong enough to go through last Fall in Chicago while Luke lived in Minneapolis. But, because of that “trial run” of long distance – going to Italy for 108 days was easier. To be clear, nothing about this experience was “fun” or something I would recommend. I definitely don’t think that long distance is ideal, but if you love each other it’s pointless to “take a break” or whatever nonsense people suggested to me. I don’t feel cheated out of my experience, I’m not kicking myself for not sleeping with those hot italian men peers told me I would miss out on. Honestly, there weren’t any. And if there were, I was never tempted because I loved someone waiting for me back in Minnesota 1 million times more than any of them.
Honestly, it hurt me more and motivated me to hear those I’m close to play into the stereotype of long distance. I had friends, family, and acquaintances basically trying to give me a list of pros and cons as to why I shouldn’t be in an LDR. And I had friends telling me that it wasn’t “like me” to stay in, not kiss boys at parties, or get too drunk.
I’m sorry, but what? It’s not “like me” to be responsible, to mature, or to decide I’m better than trashing my body and reputation? Sure I did those things freshman year – we all did, but there’s a time and a place. And unfortunately, I had began using parties as an escape from my feelings. It was unhealthy and I was thankful to break out of the rut and feeling like I needed to party, to drink, to forget.
All I ask, is that you respect those you know who enter into a long distance relationship. Because it is their decision, and they’ve already weighed the pros and cons before agreeing. Do not make the battle harder for them by chastising, tempting, or condoning. I love Luke, I love my family and friends for trying to protect me, but I am so glad I never let anything anyone told me get to me.
I suppose I’m trying to show that long distance relationships can be simple. It can be about a boy and girl (or a girl and girl, or a boy and a boy, etc. ) who love each other, and decide that it doesn’t matter if their relationship thrives on letters, Skype, and texting as long as they have each other. It can be that simple if we let our loved ones make that choice and if we support them.