Long distance relationships: worth the extra mile?

I was in a long distance relationship for a year-and-a-half.

Operative word: was.

Not just any long distance – the longest distance possible. I’m talking opposite ends of the earth. I know this feeling resonates with most long distance couples – but I was living the reality of being in a serious relationship with someone who lived in Australia.

I didn’t seek such self-inflicted relationship torture. I lived in the Gold Coast, Australia, for six years of my life where I graduated high school and had met my then-boyfriend.

I decided my future in journalism in Australia wouldn’t amount to much*, and I’ve always had bigger ambitions to establish myself in the UK or back home in the US. I also decided that love also had greater potential than a ‘little’ distance.

I would only see him twice to three times a year, for one month periods. I spent a grand total of four physical months with him over 18 months after I left the Gold Coast and probably more than £3,000 in trip expenses – twice he came to London, and twice I went back to Australia.

The rest of the time my dear iPhone became my boyfriend.

I would only see him twice to three times a year, for one month periods. The rest of the time my dear iPhone became my boyfriend.

Anyone who knew me during these months would know I would become enveloped in my phone – I’d constantly be receiving texts from morning to night asking how I was, what I was doing, who I was with, what my plans were for the day and night.

I’ve probably lost a significant amount of brain cells from mobile radiation.

Our relationship became a whirlwind of intense suspicion, control, and obsession as a result of the distance. Partner this with the heavy emotions we felt on the ‘good’ days – longing, grief, heartache.

The time difference made Skype a scheduled kerfuffle every week. It was weird to see him lying on his bed while I was on mine, but in reality we were separated by miles of ocean and continents.

It was bizarre to think that when I woke up to start my day, his day had already finished. I had to deal with a whole plethora of people questioning my motives.

On the flip side, I often indirectly comforted people whose long distance relationships were still within the country (“oh gawd, my boyfriend is just in Manchester! HAHA! I don’t feel quite so bad about our distance now, I see him every other weekend anyway”).

In hindsight, the relationship probably didn’t work for a number of reasons beyond the distance. We were two very different people with different ambitions and goals.

And that’s what separates most couples in the first place – job prospects and better education. Lord knows we could use a few more ambitious people in the world than those attempting to #breaktheinternet.

Unless you’re Mormon, ultra-conservative or getting married anytime soon – being in a relationship with someone you can’t physically be with at your convenience is actually very hard and not particularly rewarding.

It involves a lot of emotional investment. Put that investment into something else, maybe a puppy, until you can find someone that works around your schedule, locally, in your time.

If you happen to be in a long-distance relationship, I applaud your efforts. But in the prime years of your life you should be meeting and mingling with everyone you can and going any place you can without feeling a shred of guilt.

I don’t regret anything, but if I had to impart any wisdom from my experience, I’d reach for guidance from the ever discerning Lil Wayne: “grab life by the horns, put the bullshit aside.”

*no offence to any Aussie Artefact readers

 

Featured image by Thomas Leuthard via Flickr