Contrary to what the cynics say, distance is not for the fearful; it’s for the bold. It’s for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. – Meghan Daum
My boyfriend, Jordin, and I have been dating for five years this November. We met when we were fifteen, started dating when we were seventeen (besides a failed first date when I was sixteen and he was still fifteen), and have had this really surreal and cool experience of growing up together. After graduating high school, Jordin left for college seven hours away and I stayed home, not quite ready to leave my bubble. So much has changed since then and yet our values still stay the same, and as we are in the last year of school distance before Jordin begins to travel for his golf career, I figured it might be nice to share what I’ve learned through being in a long-distance relationship over these last four years.
There are three things, besides LOVE, that keep our relationship strong.
Anyone I have talked to that had a long-distance relationship not work out, the main deal breaker I found is that they didn’t fully trust each other. To be in a relationship where you don’t see that person every day, where they have their own group of friends and a life that is not with you at times, the number one thing to do is to trust your significant other. Jordin and I always joke that we don’t have jealous bones in our bodies. Sure, I wish I was going bowling with him and his group of friends tonight, or out to a spontaneous dinner, but I’m not going to feel threatened that he’s doing those things without me. If anything, I’m beyond excited for him to have friends he enjoys being with. And since I’m not there, the fact that he has fun experiences and people he can be himself with makes me unbelievably happy. I have never once felt like I couldn’t trust Jordin, and I hope he feels the same with me. But, that trust is built on our personal boundaries that we have set for ourselves by being in a committed relationship. We know the comfort level we both have, and we don’t care to test the boundaries or even worry the other by messing that up.
Commitment is the foundation of our relationship. We had a friendship for two years before we started dating, and I think that made such a huge difference in how we viewed our relationship. We had such a fun time together hanging out with our best friends for those early years of high school, that when we began an official relationship, we already knew a lot about each other and the transition felt natural. Now that we’re older, our commitment to staying together even when things feel difficult at times is something that is so important when you’re long-distance. An argument is much more heated when you can’t see each other’s facial expressions, or when I can’t tell that Jordin’s joking. Something that would be diffused quickly if we were together turns into something that we hold onto when we’re apart. But, with that being said, it’s important to remember that we made a commitment to be together, and we love each other enough to work through whatever it is at the moment that might be bringing us down. Our commitment to each other also translates to how we treat the other. Sure, there’s been moments when hurtful words have been spewed in the heat of the moment, but we have a level of respect for each other that cannot be broken. Even when we don’t agree on something, we have enough respect that we can argue with love in our hearts. I think that’s part of what a true commitment is. It’s comforting and above all, safe. I really value having someone I can be myself with every day, every moment, and who continues to love me for exactly as I am.
Communication is another one of the biggest thing that keeps our relationship steady. We text a few times throughout the day and then talk over the phone or through FaceTime at the beginning and/or end of our day. We are both at a point where we have busy lives individually, and we don’t have time to be talking all the time. I think having space throughout the day allows us to have more enriching conversation when we do talk. We are constantly working on ways to improve our communication with each other. How could this conversation had been done differently? How could I have worded that to you in a more effective way? How can I show you that you matter to me through every word I speak? It’s questions like that we constantly ask each other. We focus on making our communication as seamless as possible to be able to have the most effective conversations that make each other understand completely. It’s definitely a work in progress, but something we happily are willing to work on for the betterment of our relationship.
Although Jordin and I feel like we’ve got a lot figured out, I wouldn’t be honest in saying that there aren’t rough times. We have a base of being best friends, and when things get too much too handle, we can always rely on our friendship and go back to that base. Not a day goes by where I don’t experience something that I instantly text him about to share with him. We live separate lives most of the year, but we find a centeredness in each other. My favorite part of the day is talking or FaceTiming before bed and sharing our life together in that way. I’m always laughing at Jordin’s stories, and I try to make him smile. Truthfully, I couldn’t imagine life apart. But, I’m also very thankful that we are choosing to follow our own dreams too. Like anything, our relationship is about striving for the balance between reaching our personal goals while also taking the time to enjoy life with each other. Jordin is more than just my boyfriend, he’s the person that I can always count on, who loves me and cherishes me more than I ever deserve, and I feel incredibly grateful to have him in my life. To decide to go through the crappy times apart so we can have those few moments of joy together is what shows me that our relationship is more than worth it.