What I learned from my long distance relationship

I was never a fan of long-distance relationships, because I always felt that the physical contact being left out meant no romance at all. But 11 months ago, I found myself at the crossroads of my feelings about long distance relationships and my new feelings when I met her.

Through the FaceTime calls on sleepless nights and the early morning messages when we opened our eyes, what began as a simple conversation became a relationship that lasted almost a year. It took eight months to finally see her in person due to canceled plans and things beyond our control, but the time we did spend together is what we cherished.

Why would I stay in a relationship with a girl in Los Angeles while I was in San Francisco? Picture the person you care for the most, the way you feel when you first held them, when you kiss and embrace. Now picture a goodbye with that person, a kiss or hug so long that the world stops for a moment to watch. That’s what kept me going.

Those hellos.

Those goodbyes.

What kept me going was the hope that what we fought for everyday would one day set us free. Throughout those months, I pursued my passion for writing with her support and referenced her often in my work, making sure she was in my pieces as much as she was in my life.

Recently, I was introduced to the realities of the obstacles that needed to be overcome. The distance that would separate us for the next two years while I made sure I was a competitive applicant to transfer to a school Southern California. Our families’ doubts and the constant obstruction of our relationship and the voices telling us to to let it go or face consequences.  Everything held in secret, even the times when she would save up money to come visit me.  We were always in hiding when we would see each other.

We held on by a string to the hopes and dreams that founded our relationship when we first got together. That string that was constantly being pushed to limits, despite its elasticity, as we struggled to think on the bright side of trying situations. The question of when we were going to see each other next was always avoided because it led to actual thought and arguments over the viability of our relationship.

Finally, we were given some time to think, separated from our constant chatter while I was vacationing in Europe and she was home working and hanging out with friends. And I guess that’s what we needed. We needed time to think after 9 months of talking everyday. For once, we were forced to deal with life without each other. Coming back home, I knew that much needed to be discussed and what we tried so hard to cover up needed to be acknowledged and settled.

After a difficult discussion, we decided to recalibrate. We planned to take things slower and learn to let things be the way they’re suppose to. Things aren’t how they used to be between us, but a part of me is okay with that. It’s complicated.

At this point, if asked to describe where we lie on the spectrum of our relationship, we would both giggle and say that we cannot be measured since we are in the process of figuring that out for ourselves. It’s complicated, but isn’t everything beautiful in life hard to describe?

A Long Distance Relationship (LDR)  requires sacrifice, it requires times when the only thing you want to do is be in the arms of the other because life gets hard and you’re not sure you can face it alone. It allows you to gain the strength to believe and allowing the thought of them guide you to the light when all you see is darkness  and despair. You see how much a person cares, what they’re willing to do, and if they’re going to keep hope alive.  

I haven’t lost faith in LDR’s; I have only gained more understanding on what it truly requires to be a success. I learned that it’s more than dreaming about “if you were here” or “when we do see each other,” but making a plan on how to make that happen. To step back and see if what you’re looking for out of the relationship is possible and if you can see them in your future. Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give to someone, whether it’s someone next door or on the next continent. I learned that in life, happiness shouldn’t be dependent on someone else. Happiness should come from your own existence, from setting your own standard and definition of happiness that others will choose to contribute to.  

I’m eighteen and I’m still unsure of  many things. I’m not perfect, and not will every action I take in the future be the right one. But love, love is beautiful. It’s a feeling that can be felt at every age and at any given moment.  I’m not sad because things aren’t the way they used to be, I’m happy because true character and feelings were brought to light.  

As Elizabeth Gilbert says in Eat, Pray, Love, “People think a soulmate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.”

(Image via Megan Duenas)

Megan Duenas is a Bay Area-based freelance writer and photographer en route to college this fall at San Jose State University. In the past year, Megan widened her writing, reaching audiences like the creative community from Bunch Magazine, Anon Magazine and Popover, Conscious Magazine, This Bridge Called Our Health, and foundations including Make A Wish and InHerShoes Movement, where she was the first featured speaker to give advice to high school girls on pursuing their own passions. Megan’s goal is to keep pursuing her dreams of writing while continuing her education and traveling. She urges many her age to ignore their age as a factor, take a risk, and put themselves out there if they have a goal in mind.

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