I have plans with my boyfriend this weekend.
It’s not often I get to say that, and the words feel so good rolling off my tongue.
As I’ve mentioned before, my boyfriend and I live in different cities. When this little fact about my life comes up in conversation, especially with happily-coupled 20-something girls, the reaction is always the same: sad, puppy-dog eyes and a sympathetic, “that sucks!”
Yeah. It does.
But, like many of my non-traditional life choices, this one’s more than worth it. Why? Get ready for me to blow your socks off with logic.
1. More Obstacles
You heard me. Long distance relationships are harder.
And that’s a good thing?
Obstacles exist in any relationship. Disagreements, selfishness, and misunderstandings are unavoidable. But, when living in a different city, it’s really hard to just kiss and make up.
Situations like these put your relationship to the test.
Is this person good for me? Are they worth the extra effort? Do they put my needs before their own? Do I do the same for them? Are we “situational buddies,” or do we have what it takes to really make this relationship work?
Here’s the cold hard truth: if a disagreement is bad enough to tear us apart, it’s likely that breakup was inevitable. It’s likely whatever that difference is, it’s deeply rooted in who we are and isn’t something that’s likely to change without a serious personality overhaul.
And if something is going to rip us apart, I’d rather it happen sooner than later. Wouldn’t you?
2. Improved Communication
As mentioned in point 1, kissing and making up isn’t an option in long distance relationships. This leaves us with only one option: talking things out.
I’m not one to open up easily about intensely personal subjects. But sometimes they just have to come up. And, when they do, we have to deal with them. Honesty and openness is the main ingredient of any successful relationship.
The long-distance aspect of my relationship with Parker has allowed me to ease into the whole “sharing” thing. Some of our most personal conversations in the last eight months have come about via text or email.
Being able to share what I need to share without the pressure of forming the words on the spot, watching for reactions, or having to get through an entire speech without tears, it makes the whole process a little easier. Opening up is hard enough as it is, and no one starts a relationship completely comfortable with the other person.
Over time, I was able to graduate from text and email to Truth or Truth questions. And from Truth or Truth, to openly weeping on the phone. And being okay with it.
3. Increased Sense of Value
Long distance relationships are harder than in-person hangouts.
I have to plan time to sit by myself in an empty room to virtually hang out with a friend who is also making time to sit by themselves in an empty room to virtually hang out with me. It’s not the same as catching a movie after work. And that’s okay.
But it begs the question, what’s the most important factor in a relationship?
It’s a question without a universal answer. Yours will likely be different than mine. What answer popped into your mind when I asked? Is that something you need to physically be with the other person to have?
For me, it’s not.
While I crave the day I live in the same city with my first and only love, my time apart from him only lets me value the few days we do spend together even more highly. A not-so-subtle reminder of just how important Parker is to me.
Not that I need one. But it’s nice to have.
4. The Confidence of Growing Together, Even When Apart
It’s great to know I’m still loved even from a great distance. It actually gives me more confidence as I move forward in this relationship.
Just because I can’t physically be with my significant other doesn’t mean we can’t grow together.
We talk every day. We skype all the time. We share our lives. We share advice. We laugh together. We cry together. We provide each other a shoulder to lean on. We cheer each other up. We pray together and we praise together. When the bad times come, as they so often do in this life, we support each other with truth and love.
Distance can’t separate a bond like that.
5. The Constant Reminder: It’s about God, not Me
I’m not sure why I got this lot in life. I’m not sure why God moved me away from my dearest friends back in 2011. And I’m not sure why the person he so clearly designed for me lives in another city.
Sometimes I wonder if things would still be this good if we lived in the same town. If it’s the distance that makes “us” work.
I’m afraid the little things I do will bug him. I like to sing too loudly in the car. I shout like a maniac when I’ve had too much sugar. And I tend to be a little crabby until I’ve had my morning coffee.
Sure, I might annoy him someday. Scratch that, I will annoy him. And he’ll annoy me. No couple is perfect.
But relationships aren’t about liking each other. They’re about loving each other.
The difference: “like” is superficial. It will never last, no matter how many things you have in common or how cute his smile may be.
Love = Commitment.
Commitment to work through things. Commitment to communicate. Commitment to never give up, no matter what obstacles life throws at us..
That commitment isn’t about me and what may or may not bug me. It’s about making a promise and honoring God by keeping it.
Though I haven’t made that promise before God, and won’t for some time, I’m still able to practice the realities of living with that promise. That’s what dating is for.
Distance will strain any superficial relationship.
Trust me, I know.
But, when it’s right it’s right. And, please note, everything I’ve mentioned in this post this goes for any relationship. Don’t let distance stop you from any healthy, deep, God-honoring relationship.
Half of my best friends live in another city. I deal with it. Sharing life with them, even when they’re hundreds of miles away, is better than trying to muscle on without them.
Plus, in most cases, distance is only temporary.