I never intended to get myself into a long distance relationship. Of course, hardly anyone ever does. I was 17 when I met Kevin while visiting my dad in Pennsylvania on summer vacation. I found his charming smile and notable intelligence captivating from our first encounter. After a few ice cream dates and video game marathons, we decided to make it official. We spent that whole summer together. From spending days on the lake in June to watching the fireworks together in July, we began to grow closer. I felt as though I was living in a romantic comedy. Despite all this, we always kept the fact that I would have to go back home to Florida when fall came in the back of our minds.
At first we had decided that we were going to skip the drama that came with long distance. That was until we discovered how hard it was to maintain that plan while simultaneously falling for each other. As our months dwindled down to weeks, we decided to come up with a new plan. I'd come up to stay with my dad as much as I could and he would work on convincing his parents to let him fly down for New Year's and prom. On top of that, I wrote a series of letters. You know, the letters that you always hear about in those cheesy sweet articles. I wrote one letter for every month I’d be gone, and a few extra for times where he’d need me when I couldn’t be there — when we got into a fight, when he needed encouragement or when he was just having a difficult day. I thought for sure our plan was foolproof.
Throughout the school year, we faced various hardships. Eventually, flying to Pennsylvania often became draining. We spent countless hours on Skype just trying to feel like we had a real physical presence in each other’s life. Everything about keeping the relationship afloat became exhausting, but there we were, facing it all together. We experienced all the common issues that are stereotypical in a long distance relationship: he would get jealous, I wouldn’t communicate effectively and we would often postpone talking about things that bothered us until my next visit. We thought if we could just make it through that school year, everything would be OK, as we had decided to go to college in the same state.
The funny thing about it is, making it through the year was not the hardest part of our entire relationship. I remember being so excited as I drove to the airport to pick Kevin up on what happened to be our one-year anniversary. He decided to join my family and I on vacation at the beach. We wouldn't have to say goodbye for more than a week after that. That’s when everything started to fall apart. I had realized that all that time texting, talking on Skype and trying to be more present in his life had ended up pushing us further away rather than bringing us closer together. I was accustomed to seeing him when I wanted to on the screen, but when we were together, we easily and quickly got sick of each other. Tiny mannerisms we never noticed before began to annoy us. I began doubting our entire relationship and realized that the entire relationship seemed meaningless without that thought of, “Just a few more months and we will be together.”
I decided that it was best if the two of us parted ways. This discussion took place, like many other major events in our relationships, on Skype. It was a long and rough discussion, filled with tears on both ends. Ultimately, we determined that something within us was just gone and postponing ending things because we physically could not break up in person was pointless. Despite our plans, it wasn’t meant to be and after these months have passed I finally realize that that’s OK. In fact, writing this article gave me the opportunity to text Kevin and talk to him about where we went wrong.
There are many difficulties to overcome in a long-distance relationship. For me, one of the hardest things was not having as much support as I needed at times. Kevin agreed with me on this.
“Whenever something went wrong, I would just say to myself , ‘OK, I just need to make sure that we’re both OK until I see her again in two weeks. Then I can give her the physical connection needed for a situation like this.'”
There are times when talking to someone on the phone just doesn’t quite help an issue like a hug does.
In terms of advice for someone thinking of starting a long distance relationship: work with what you have but don’t overdo it. Like I mentioned before, talking on Skype so often became more of a problem than it was a solution. Don’t get me wrong, Skype was great, but I found myself trying to overcompensate for the fact that I couldn’t see Kevin in person by seeing him so much on Skype. It’s not quite the same thing and it’s bad for your social life. Kevin had his own advice.
“Realize that they have a life that is completely separate from your own. This kind of goes hand in hand with my point. When you spend so much time focusing on another person, you tend to often forget about yourself. You may find yourself even starting to get annoyed when your partner can’t make the time to Skype or call. Sometimes things come up and people are busy. While communication is extra important in long distance relationships, respecting your partner's time is even more crucial."
Overall, I learned a lot about myself during my long distance relationship. It may not have worked out, but I learned how to appreciate the people around me and how to be apart from someone I love. I still have nothing but respect and admiration for Kevin, and I’m grateful for our relationship and everything he taught me.
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