By Taylor Jevning
Like many others, I have been fortunate enough to find the most amazing partner in the world. The person I am in a relationship with is one of the most loving, committed, supportive, and dedicated people I have ever met, and I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about him. I greatly enjoy hearing my friends tell me about the positive parts of their relationships, because too often, relationships can be filled with the anxiety and struggles that come with trying to find that perfect person to spend your life with. Relationships in particular are often the forefront of many university students’ lives. Many people meet the person that they spend their lives with in university, which also poses a problem. As a group of individuals from all over the world thrown into a common environment, a few problems can arise. Since we are from different parts of the world, there is a greater chance that you will end up in a long distance relationship, similar to my own. As someone who has been in a long distance relationship for over a year (successfully, I will add), I would like to share some of my successes, struggles, and advice to anyone who is thinking of dating someone who does not live close to them.
Long distance is one of the most challenging situations for a couple to endure, especially when you are as far apart as I am with my boyfriend. He lives in Germany, meaning that on top of all of the other struggles, we also have an 8-hour time difference to account for. To be so committed to someone far away, you have to have incredibly strong feelings towards them. However, this comes with its own problems. Throwing all of your emotions into a long distance relationship can be extremely damaging to both yours and your partner’s mental health and happiness. The reality of these types of relationships is that you cannot talk with or spend as much time with each other as a normal couple would be able to. This means that you cannot expect them to constantly reply to text messages or be able to call, and that when they are with friends or are doing things without you, you have to fight the jealousy and the feeling of wishing you were there with them and be happy for them. Finding happiness in them as an individual and wanting the best for them helps with treating your partner with the respect they deserve. You also have to manage a sort of “emotional disconnect” with your partner to save yourself the heartache of not being able to be near them. Holding yourself back from doing the things you love is going to make you spiral into being more upset and not being able to get your mind off of your relationship. You have to focus on yourself and your partner as individuals and find the balance between emotionally disconnecting from them while still remaining in love with them. Once you fall into a routine or a schedule, this becomes so much easier, but the adjustment period is difficult and painful. My boyfriend and I make sure that no matter what, we will say good morning and goodnight to each other, and we will call minimum once a week. Setting these guidelines beforehand makes sure both of you have the same expectations going into the relationship in the same way any communication does.
With these difficulties also comes happiness that can’t compare to any relationship I have ever been in. Through the waiting periods between visits can last months upon months, you eventually adjust to managing your relationship and your own individual lives so successfully that by the time you can actually count down the days to seeing each other, it seems surreal. I will never forget the first time going to pick up my boyfriend at the airport or sitting on the plane to Germany and feeling a happiness filling my chest that was so incredible that I could cry from joy. I have been in long-term relationships with other people for multiple years, and even the best moments in those relationships could never come close to the feeling you get when you wrap your arms around the person you have waited so long to see again. Through the worst pains and the worst struggles, you suddenly feel completely whole, and I’ve been lucky that my boyfriend and I get to visit each other for a few weeks at a time; we take advantage of every single moment we have together. Those few weeks make everything we’ve been through together worth it, and what we have been through has strengthened our commitment to our relationship and to each other as a couple, something we could not replicate without the distance.
The greatest thing I have learned in my relationship is to treat the distance as an opportunity rather than a struggle. My boyfriend has had the opportunity to focus on school, tells me about his time with his friends, and is about to start an internship in a new country to gain experience in his field. I have been able to live with friends in dorms instead of with my boyfriend, whom I will spend the rest of my life with and will have plenty of time to live with. I have made unforgettable memories with friends, worked as an RA in dorms, and focused on building myself into the best person I can possibly be before my boyfriend finally moves here in just over six months. Not only that, but when I get home from a party or have an incredible day, I can share these things with him and see the happiness in his face that I am living my life to the fullest. When my boyfriend and I finally get to live together, we will be approaching our two year anniversary as the strongest, most committed, loving couple I have ever known, and I would not change a single thing about what we’ve been through. Long distance relationships are not for those who want it easy, but I also believe that nothing that has any worth is easy. Regardless of what type of relationship you are in, I wish you the most success and my full support in working to be with the person you are meant to be with.