Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Finding the silver linings in long-distance relationships

I know a fair bit about long-distance relationships. I’ve even occasionally made the joke that I have a Master’s degree in them. In fact, over half of the relationships (or attempts at relationships) I’ve had in my life have had some kind of long-distance component to them. 

This time last year I was in a long-distance relationship with a guy who lived about seventy miles away in my former hometown. That was the situation until he went through Clearing and the distance between us went from seventy miles to five. We did the opposite of what couples going to different universities do – we didn’t break up. However, less than two weeks after I arrived, we split up. 

When I was sixteen, I had a boyfriend from another school. We saw each other fairly infrequently even though we were only ten miles apart. It felt a little like a long-distance relationship when, occasionally, I went a month without seeing him at all. It had all the characteristics, benefits and drawbacks of one. 

I also wonder if this means the honeymoon phase lasts longer

Fast forward a few years and I’m long-distancing all over again with my boyfriend from university. This was always on the cards when the summer holidays rolled around, but thanks to a certain pandemic we’ve been doing long-distance since March. Because of the lockdown, we didn’t see each other for three and a half months. Now, my dad drives me up to campus every three weeks to see him, though we don’t have much longer to wait before we are in the same postcode again. 

It might sound like a slog, but some people do prefer to have relationships this way. I wouldn’t consider myself one of them, but regardless, there are benefits to it for certain. 

When you’re in a long-distance relationship, seeing your partner feels like a luxury. That can be a disadvantage, but it could also be seen as a good thing. It means you’re less likely to take your partner for granted and the scarce time you have together is always special because, often, it is rare. I also wonder if this means the honeymoon phase lasts longer. It felt that way in the relationship I was in when I was sixteen and it also happened to be the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. 

Long-distance relationships never really fail because of the distance

Relating to this, in a long-distance relationship, it is easy to create things to look forward to. When life feels arduous or monotonous, it helps to be able to think you’ll be able to see your partner, say, next week and that you’ll be able to have a break from the everyday. I’ve definitely felt this way in the latter part of my time away from campus as seeing my boyfriend is a reprieve from my usual routine. 

Another advantage is that there is perhaps less of a need to ask for space if you feel like you need it, as you already have a lot of it when you’re going long-distance. This is helpful if you have a tendency to place your partner at the centre of your universe and lose sight of everything else that’s going on. It’s perhaps harder for someone else to stifle you if you can’t see them as often and thus it can give you a sense of the independence of being single although you are in a relationship. 

Relationships where you live far away from your partner take a lot of dedication, without a doubt. However, if you do have that necessary dedication, it can make for a very strong relationship, Ultimately, the way I see it, long-distance relationships never really fail because of the distance, even if that’s what people claim. They fail for the reason that most relationships fail – a lack of love, and if you’re not really keen on your partner, you won’t be as dedicated to keeping up long-distance. 

Remember that your relationship is valid

Personally, I’m not going to miss being in a long-distance relationship when I go back to university. However, they are still enjoyable and more than possible to make work. If this is what you are doing right now, or you’re a fresher about to embark on a long-distance relationship, remember this that if it is meant to work and your relationship is strong enough, it can work. 

Above all, remember that your relationship is valid. You may face doubt about it, especially from your parents, but the judgments of others don’t matter if your relationship is genuine and meaningful to you. Also, if you can get one, a railcard will really help you out. You’ll save yourself a lot of money.

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