Remember how I told you I’m going to get more personal? Well, this is the beginning.
Today I’m going to introduce you to a guy. This guy.
Marshall and I have been dating for a year and a half, and it’s been the best time of my life. This past semester, however, he was studying abroad in England. So for three months our relationship was long distance.
Really long distance.
The experience was of course hard, but it was also transformational and beneficial for our relationship. I learned so much about myself, and I got to cheer Marshall on as he changed and grew during his time traipsing across Europe.
So now, since it’s been a month since he’s been home, I’m ready to share some wisdom with you about making it through long distance dating and coming out stronger than ever.
Sending him off in January.
The most important piece of advice I can give is this: don’t wish the days away.
It’s sounds really unromantic, but if you’re going through long distance, I don’t think you should keep a countdown until the day your significant other returns, make playlists that remind you of him/her or fall asleep FaceTiming every night.
I think you should live your life.
This semester was a transformative one for me because of the people I met, new experiences I had and places I traveled to. I had an internship at a magazine in downtown Chattanooga and took a job as an editor at my campus newspaper.
I went on adventures. Like this one, this one and this one.
I’m not saying that I couldn’t have done those things with Marshall here, or that I didn’t miss him, but at the beginning of the semester I knew that I had two options: I could sit around and cry because I wasn’t with him, or I could live my life with the same zeal as any other season.
So I chose to live, and I think you should too.
My friend Deborah went through a similar period of distance last year and described it really well. She said it’s beneficial because you learn to develop independence under the umbrella of a committed relationship.
I love that.
NYC Spring break. Photo by Shane Tretheway.
People have trepidations about entering a relationship because they think they have to kiss their independence goodbye as soon as they kiss their new significant other hello.
Take it from a girl who prides herself on her independence: it’s not true.
Yes, there is a level of independence that you lose when you give up singleness, but there is also a level that you can keep. There’s a balance between commitment and independence while you’re dating, and when it’s found, it produces a beautiful, healthy connection with another person and your own self.
You can be in a relationship and be your own person.
Your partner could be on the other side of the world, and even though you’ll miss him/her, it’s okay if you’re fine. It’s okay to live your life, take advantage of every adventure, make new friends or maybe invest more in existing ones.
This semester my roommate Haylee and I got way closer because we spent a lot of time together. We went on a hike together, did zumba together, started blogs together and just got to know each other better. If I had spent the whole time whining about missing my boyfriend, she would’ve gotten tired of me.
I’m beyond grateful for this crazy friendship.
When you’re going through long distance, don’t spend all of your time in the past reminiscing about the good times with your significant other, and don’t dwell on the future, counting down the days until you’ll be together again.
L i v e i n t h e p r e s e n t .
Live your life, and share it with your significant other from a distance. Realize that your relationship will look differently in this season, but with strong communication and a little grace, you can still come out more connected than you were before.
Don’t get me wrong: distance is hard, time differences suck and missing each other can seem unbearable. But it also shows you that if you were an independent, committed person before your significant other left, you’ll be an independent and committed person when they’re gone. Likewise, if you were an overly-dependent person before they left, you’ll be an overly-dependent and miserable person when they’re gone.
It’s only for a season, and once you’re on the other side, you don’t want to look back on that season and only see misery.
Don’t wish the days away.
You can have fun. You can grow, change and develop as a person.
And when the distance ends, after a better-than-you-even-imagined reunion, you can share your new self and adventures with your significant other. You can reconnect like you were never separated and get to know the new people you have become at the same time.
And that’s romantic.
Our first (blurry) picture back together in April.
Have you ever dated long distance? Tell me about your experience!
You can also read about Marshall and my egalitarian approach to dating on his blog, The Train of His Robe, here.