Consistently Mine: Lessons From a Long Distance Relationship

By Nia Beckett
Photography by Kaela Anderson
Modeled by Roman Distefano and Dania Danielle Gritzmacher

This article has been adapted for the web from our Flux Issue.

Imagine that for months, you spend every waking moment with someone you truly care about, and the next day you’re on a plane to call a place 1,200 miles away from them home. No more cuddling up next to them, no more late night trips to the beach. Amidst the change of scenery, the struggle to make new friends and the ungodly amounts of homework, you miss them and you wonder where to go from here.

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Let me be the first to say that before I dated my current boyfriend, I never even considered being in a long distance relationship. I had no doubt in my mind that I would leave for college 100 percent single. I was going to party and take advantage of everything that the college social life had to offer. As cheesy as it sounds, when you meet someone special, all bets are off.

I remember him saying in the weeks before each of us left for school that he hated long distance relationships because of the lack of intimacy. He didn’t necessarily mean this in a physical way—it’s just that when you’re not physically near someone, it makes it more difficult to connect with them on other levels. His words lingered in my mind as the summer drew to a close, presumably bringing with it the end of our relationship

July turned to August and while he did his best to comfort me, my mid-date breakdowns became more frequent. Then a funny thing happened: we didn’t stop talking.

Obviously when a healthy relationship is uprooted overnight, you don’t immediately start acting differently. It hasn’t hit you that you aren’t just on vacation or at summer camp. Your mind isn’t even equipped to process how long you’ll be gone. Still, days turned into weeks and the same guy who didn’t believe in long distance relationships couldn’t let me go. It was time to re-evaluate.

Entering this new, uncharted territory, there wasn’t really much to go off of. There isn’t an official textbook you can refer to. No “turn to page nine to find out how many times it is acceptable to text him before breakfast.” All of the information you gather is about friends of friends who tried long distance relationships once and you always end up asking the million dollar question, “Did it work out?”

Long distance relationships are the kind of thing that you need to be certain about. You don’t need to know that it will work, but you need to be positive that you want to try. I have found that it’s easier not to get caught up in my own head about it. The logistics don’t really matter: it’s about me and the guy I love.

Trying to define the relationship through a screen or a phone line hundreds of miles apart is like running your hand across the wall to find the light switch hanging right above your head. FaceTime is so much harder than face-to-face time.

Communication becomes so much more important when you aren’t physically there to see how the other person feels. Distance creates such an interesting obstacle. For some, it’s easy to keep texting each other and go on as if nothing has changed. For others, going into this kind of situation with a sense of uncertainty presents uneasy conversations about where you’re going.

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What you often find is that one person has committed to at least trying while the other is unsure. It’s almost as if they’re stuck in limbo—part of them finding the loneliness overbearing, but whenever they are with you, they can’t see it any other way.

Friends mean well when they tell you to “just find another guy.” I guess there’s some merit to that consideration. The consideration that a relationship, especially one that’s long distance, is an extra time commitment. However, a relationship isn’t like a club or a class that you just unenroll from with no emotional repercussions. When two people find true companionship in each other, it can’t be written off as “just another thing on their plate.”

There’s nothing wrong with ending a relationship because of lack of time to spend together, or because long distance just isn’t for you. In fact no one should be judged for ending their relationship on those grounds, if they see it fit. However, it’s a personal choice, and I don’t think that it has to be seen as a taboo, unconquerable burden.

I can’t say that down the road we’ll still be together, (although I’d like that very much). What I can offer, however, is that I still get happiness out of our relationship every day, and I’m not ready to cast it off just because of the distance. At a point where my whole life has been a whirlwind of changes, he has been consistently mine.