I was in my late teens when it happened; I caught the relationship bug early and fast. After a year and a half together, my boyfriend graduated and got a job offer in Tokyo. I still had two years ahead of me.
It was a great opportunity for him, and naturally I thought it was over. But we both agreed we liked each other enough to try long distance, so we did... for five years.
No, it wasn't perfect, and sometimes it got really f*cking difficult, but I don’t regret a day of it.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Distance doesn’t control love, but you have to fight for it.
Distance isn’t the problem: I’ve had friends who’ve blamed it, cursed it and said they were too lonely, too far and too miserable without their SOs.
But to me, those are excuses. If you love the person, then f*ck the distance, it shouldn’t stop you. I’ve also heard men who say it’s harder for them to do long distance because they’re hornier than women, and that’s just bullsh*t.
It’s the same on both sides: If you feel like he or she isn’t worth the effort, of course long distance isn’t going to work. I got lucky in the sense that he was extremely sure of what he wanted, and chose to fight for it.
2. It helped me make better decisions and f*ck up a lot less.
For instance, do I really want to go home with this douchebag who’s hitting on me, and end up feeling like sh*t the next day just like the rest of my friends?
Even if the answer was YES at the time, I knew I loved my LDR man enough to say no, and my reward would be going to brunch with my friends and laughing at their blunders and f*ckups from the night before, not mine.
Of course, sometimes you need those mistakes in your life, but everything in moderation, right?
3. It taught me how to handle judgmental pricks
God forbid you fall in love while in college, and if you do, people are either extremely skeptical, judgmental or ignorant of how it feels.
I’ve gotten questions like, “So, when are you marrying him?” “Doesn’t it seem like you’re not in a real relationship?” “You know he’s probably cheating on you, right?” “How can anything ever be worth that pain?” “If I were her, I’d be crying alone in my room every night.” (That last one was said behind my back, but it’s still probably my favorite one.)
But even though dealing with all that was a pain in the ass, it made me stronger, and a little more capable of holding my head up higher.
Again, if you really want something, then you fight for it.
4. It gave me a nice preview of what most men really care about
To many men at drunken college parties, a LDR means you're DTF.
Especially when your SO is on the other side of the world. People who’ve never experienced it really can’t understand why it’s worth it, so they’re mostly under the assumption that we’re both f*cking other people behind each other's backs.
5. Shocker: Drunk Men will try to lower your self-esteem to get with you
If a drunken assh*le wants in your pants, he will try anything -- even if it means lowering your self-esteem enough to get there.
“You really think your relationship will work out?” “It doesn’t seem like you miss him.” “You know he’s gotta be cheating on you, right? Japanese girls are hot.”
Yeah, cool story bro. You do realize this is reenforcing the deep appreciation I have for my boyfriend, right? I’m going to get more jungle juice and avoid you for the rest of the night. K, bye.
6. It allowed me to travel early and often, and really appreciate the time I spent doing it.
Long distance relationships are expensive. That is a definite downside, especially if you’re an entire world apart.
That being said, I was able to travel because of it. I also got lucky; my boyfriend not only worked in Tokyo, but he did his work training in London and was originally from Spain.
So every summer and Christmas, we’d be together in another part of the world, which was pretty amazing. I’d traveled with my parents before, but traveling with someone you love and experiencing new things together is truly amazing. Just try to find the cheapest way to do it.
7. Our time together was never taken for granted
Even though this was true, I noticed we were a bit different in how we wanted to spend our time together. I really couldn't care less as long as I was with him, and he always wanted to go sightseeing and do cool memory-making stuff ($$$$).
It’s important to know what both of you want, and to communicate about it. Which brings me to my next lesson…
8. Communicate or die
A lack of communication is the bane of any relationship, but if you don’t communicate in a long distance relationship, you won’t be in one for long.
This was a great challenge for me, as I tend to bottle everything up. That didn’t fly for long, and every time I did it, we’d almost break up. I was lucky though, my boyfriend put up with it and was always really open and honest about his feelings.
9. It let me concentrate on myself
Any relationship has its pros and cons, long distance or not, and having a boyfriend around all the time isn’t always the best thing.
Sometimes, you can lose focus on who you are and what you want. When you’re single and trying to let “you be you,” you’re still concentrated on finding a guy, or trying not to find a guy, rather than your future goals and what you really want to do in life.
In a twisted way, I kind of had the best of both worlds. I had the support of someone who really loved me (and vice versa), but I found that because we were apart, I wasn’t focusing most of my attention on my relationship (as hard as that was sometimes), and I had more time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.
10. It proves your love for that person day in and day out
Five years is a long-ass time, so when the questions and the parties and the doubts started to creep into my mind, I was far enough away from him to really think about what I wanted.
Since the distance was so big, it made me realize how strong my feelings were for him. Long distance is like a big, bright neon reinforcement sign, and only love could make something like that last.
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