3 Things I Learned About Love When My Fiancé Moved Across The Country
I may have single-handedly spiked the electricity bill for my apartment building last September and October.
For two months after my fiancé left for basic military training, I slept with the bathroom light on and kept my bedroom door ajar so it would peek through.
I convinced myself I could compensate for the empty space in the bed and the lack of cuddles with the bright white light of a 60-watt bulb. Don't question the logic of it.
Love and loneliness make you do strange things.
Nothing prepared me to go from having a live-in partner to a long-distance lover overnight. The longest we had ever been apart before he left for Middle-of-Nowhere, Quebec, was 11 days.
I'd been living with him for three and a half years, seeing him practically every day and sharing everything from bathrooms to secrets.
Now, there I was, cuddling a damn pillow, lightly spritzed with his cologne, wondering how people could have SOs who live in other cities, countries or continents.
I had to learn how to buy groceries and cook meals for one person. I adjusted to doing the dishes, making the bed, cleaning the bathroom, sweeping the floors and doing other domestic stuff all by myself.
When we shared good news there were no hugs and kisses, just emojis and Skype calls. I dared not forget my keys or leave the stove on because I'd have to call the super instead of sheepishly calling him, and I promise she wouldn't find my forgetfulness nearly as endearing as he would.
Being a military girlfriend meant special occasions were celebrated via FaceTime and iMessage because he wasn't able to come home. Hooray for long-distance!
But as crappy as all of that sounds, I've learned so much about myself and relationships over the past year.
Here are three things I learned that make me (grudgingly) thankful for having experienced long-distance love:
1. Solitude is a gift.
Don't get me wrong; I would still much rather have him here, but being forced to be alone has given me time to check in with myself and enjoy my own company.
I've rediscovered the greatness of reading in the bathtub, I never have to compromise on what to watch on Netflix and I can listen to any song I like at maximum volume.
I've also learned I'm actually pretty good at cooking shrimp at least six different ways, an experiment I was only able to complete because I wasn't worried about giving my fiancé food poisoning.
2. Reunions are the best.
Being alone isn't all bad, but the moments you get together are the ones you live for.
You know those scenes in the movies where lovers are reunited? The ones where they run across the airport into each other's arms and everything stops while beautiful music plays softly in the background? That's what it's like.
OK, I'm exaggerating. It's hardly ever like that, but when you're seeing the person you love after months away, there will be some running, jumping and prolonged hugging.
People will walk around you with mildly annoyed expressions and the muffled airport announcement will be your only musical accompaniment, but it will still be glorious.
Not to mention catching up on movie dates, dinner outings and sex.
3. Your communication skills become amazing.
If your relationship is going to survive being thousands of miles apart, communication is key. It's virtually the only connection you have to each other seeing as touch is entirely out the window.
I've always been one to talk about my feelings, but my boyfriend and I have learned how to discuss how we're handling things, what we're having trouble with and what kind of support we need.
I never get tired of how often we say “I love you” and those good morning texts are a hundred times sweeter.
Am I glad that this long-distance thing has an expiration date? Absolutely. I'm counting the days until February 2018.
Can long-distance relationships work long-term? Not for me, and I have enormous respect for couples who manage to pull it off.
Are they for everybody? Definitely not. But I'm glad to know love conquers plenty, and distance really does make the heart grow fonder. With a little work and the right perspective, a thousand miles can't stop love.