I came across a New York Magazine article a while ago that addressed the question, “Could Long-Distance Relationships Actually be Healthy?” While the article focused a good deal on the physical aspect of relationships, it also made some quality observations on the independence and escalated sense of romance involved in LDRs. My favorite quote was:
“You decide you’re going to try this and make an investment early on. You’re not going to spend all that money traveling to see each other just for a booty call. It also takes some of ‘the game’ off the table; it’s clear you both want it and are trying. And, finally, it’s hugely romantic. You have exciting moments of anticipation, the honeymoon of seeing each other, the sadness of departure. It’s like dating on steroids.”
It was a good article. It made sense, and I agreed with almost all of it in its entirety, except for one minor thing: Not that long-distance relationships could be “actually healthy,” but actually a good thing.
The connotation with long-distance relationships is that they’re hard. And yes, they are hard. But… with the right person, they don’t have to be. A colleague of mine once speculated that for a long distance relationship to work, he thought it required two things:
1. Being okay with being alone for a while (i.e. independence)
2. Someone that’s worth it
The aforementioned quote from the article continues with, ”...maybe also that there was some star-crossed element to our separation that made it even more romantic to conquer. Then again, I do really like my solo life…”
The first rule of love that I have always believed, is that you absolutely have to love yourself before you can think about loving someone else. Having a boyfriend/fiance/husband isn’t going to make that magically happen. Self-love comes first. Romantic love comes second.
Mike and I have been dating for almost a year and a half, and for about 80% of that time period, we’ve been long distance. (Not by choice, by the way; Mike's a naval officer and has been re-stationed in Italy since November 2013). But the weird thing is, I can probably count on one hand (okay, maybe two), the number of times I’ve actually used the phrase “long distance” out loud to describe our relationship. There are so many other facets of our relationship that supersede that, so it’s rarely the first descriptor that comes to mind. Being in a long-distance relationship doesn’t have to be the defining quality of your relationship. If it is well then… to each their own, I suppose.
I know that a year and a half is a (relatively) short time. And that some people argue that long-distance relationships “aren’t real.” But I also know that all relationships, long distance or not, are hard. Everyone has their own obstacles to overcome, their own challenges to tackle, their own hurdles to jump. But that’s the beauty of it: conquering said challenges together, whether you’re in the same room, or just barely in the same hemisphere.
Is it “normal” to be in a relationship like this? Not really. Is it ideal? No. Is it easy? Hellllll no. But is it worth it?
And it’s fun. It’s even good!. Because ultimately, the quality of a relationship isn’t determined by your proximity, it’s determined by your love for each other. And that, we have no short supply of.
Mike and I celebrating 'Christmas' the last time he was home in November 2014
Labels: long distance, love, navy life, relationships, romance