It is Saturday night in Korea, and I am sitting in an over-priced café trying to type this blog about my love life. Erasing and typing, erasing and typing, struggling to focus on anything other than the news that my sister is currently in labor in Hawaii. My stomach hurts a bit from the strong cappuccino I ordered, which will probably keep me up all night. The most important fact about this seemingly crappy situation, however, is that I am awfully happy.
Telling someone that you are in a long distance relationship is never much fun. Some people are supportive and think it’s great, others have doubt written all over their face, or better yet the “been there, done that, and good luck” expression. No matter the reaction, it is easy to feel judged. However, in reality most of us are in long distance relationships. If you have family or loved ones in other parts of the world, you maintain an LDR (see what I did there). Of course the degree of keeping in touch varies depending on the closeness of the relationship, but ultimately we are all fighting the same fight to make them work.
Saying goodbye to my boyfriend at the airport was one of the hardest things my 22 year-old-self has ever had to do. I was a tearful wreck, and he nearly had to push me through security. I went from living with my best friend, to talking to him once a day through an electronic. It was a drastic change, and it sucked. I questioned my reasoning for moving thousands of miles away from a life that was going just the way I wanted. The thought, “I just have to get through this year” kept running through my head, and I hated myself for it. I made the choice to accept an amazing opportunity to teach in South Korea for a year, and I did not want to look at it as a sentence I had to get through. So I changed my thought.
I woke up and realized, “shit, I only have one year here,” and that has made all the difference. Both Nate and I (and the rest of my family for that matter) only have one year to take advantage of our long distance relationship.
When you type “long distance relationship” into Google, this is what you find: “20 life-saving tips on making an LDR work”, “How to survive in an LDR”, etc. It’s comforting to know so many people are willing to help each other out, but I would like the articles better if we scratched the word “life-saving” and changed “survive” to “thrive.”
There’s no sugar coating it, being far from loved ones is shitty, but like everything in life, we learn to manage. Instead of just coming to terms with the situation, however, I started discovering the benefits of it:
We get “me time”
Loneliness is a drag, but being alone is actually so good for us, as humans. Nate gave me a head start into becoming who I am, loving who I am, and recognizing the worth/potential I have. Now it’s my turn to learn more about myself, grow myself, and adjust into this person I am so excited about, in my own time and space. And the same goes for him. This year might be the last opportunity for us to have this selfish “me time,” so why not embrace it.
The relationship is more than just physical
There is actually no physical contact whatsoever. And because of this, we are becoming pretty damn good at communication (an accomplishment in any relationship, I’d say). We’ve also been forced to get in touch with our creative side. Simply drinking wine together during FaceTime sessions makes a difference. Oh, and the 16-hour time difference means one of us is poppin’ bottles by 11am… Sacrifices 😉
We have an excuse to travel
We were fortunate enough to be able to see each other this holiday season. He flew to SK for Christmas and then we ventured over to Hong Kong together for New Years. It was a dream. Best of all, the second goodbye was not as hard as the first one, knowing that our unconventional relationship is not just doable, but enjoyable too.
It gets better and better
“If our friendship depends on things like space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.” This is a quote from one of my favorite books, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Basically this whole distance thing has nothing to do with the actual relationship. Despite the time and space that separates Nate and I, we are still just two people in love. And like many loves, it just gets better and better (I know it’s cheesy and some of you want to barf right now, but bear with me). By no means have we mastered the art of an LDR. Every day is a challenge, but even in this seemingly crappy situation, I am awfully happy.
I took a Netflix break while writing this to watch the documentary, Maiden Trip, about a 15-year-old Dutch girl who sailed around the world in 2012. It took her two years, and besides the people she met on the islands explored along the way, she was alone for all of it. If you are in a long distance relationship and are looking for some words of wisdom, my suggestion is not to read the articles about how to get through them, but to watch Maiden Trip (or something like it) instead. It may not be the exact LDR advice you are looking for, but it’s a good watch regardless. A wise young girl reminds us how much you can learn from being alone and how much you can love it. During this writing break I was also able to FaceTime my new niece! Yet another loved one I must maintain an LDR with, but the waiting time will make the meeting time that much more special, and for that I am truly grateful.