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When I reached out to our contributors to ask if anyone had been in a long-distance relationship, I was shocked by the number of immediate responses I got from women who had not only experienced a long-distance relationship (I was expecting literally maybe two responses tops), but were also willing to talk about it. Along with the responses, however, came the question: What exactly counts as a long-distance relationship?
My boyfriend and I lived 2.5 hours away from each other for five-and-a-half years, and I without a doubt count it as an LDR. We saw each other most weekends, yes, but it was a huge strain on both of our lives, personally, professionally, and financially. We were both in school when we met, so instead of spending our weekends studying for those big exams and partying with our friends, we were travelling back and forth to see each other to squeeze in every moment we could together.
When we entered the “real world” and got big-kid jobs, prioritizing our relationship got even harder; sometimes I needed to work on the weekends, sometimes we wanted to catch up with friends, family, or had other obligations, sometimes we were just plain tired — and sometimes we simply didn’t have the gas money.
No matter how far apart you and your S.O. are, life has a way of — well, getting in the way. Whether you’re two hours away or multiple states away, relationships aren’t easy. Period. Six years later, I can honestly say that my relationship has never been easy by any means — whether we were living 2.5 hours apart or in the same tiny apartment — so I was curious to see how other people in LDRs handled the ups and downs, whether or not they even consider long-distance relationships to be worth it, and whether or not they would do it all again. Here are their stories.
One. “B and I have known each other our entire lives, but we lost touch sometime before junior high. After a series of fortunate events and a little match-making, we reconnected a couple of years ago and hit it off instantly.
“At this point, B was working on finishing up school, and I had just started a really great job. So we started out long-distance, agreeing to put up with the miles and the (sometimes month-long) absences until someone’s situation changed. We traversed the four-hour stretch of I-40 from Louisville, KY to his small-town home for a year and a half. Surprise visits were abundant!
“A couple of months ago, I moved to Nashville, one-and-a-half hours from B. It still isn’t perfect, and we still only have weekends. But it’s a step in the right direction.
“There are lots of cons to long-distance—logistics, infrequent date nights, money, the stress of putting together that perfect outfit when he’s finally in town—but we have also found some really awesome benefits. Because our date nights meant we actually had to talk (on the phone! I know, old-fashioned), we got to know each other on a deeper level early-on and learned a lot about communicating. We also have a lot of really great memories from those early days; instead of Netflix and chill, we really tried to do something memorable each time. Friendship grew easily during that period.
“I don’t think long-distance is for everyone, and I wouldn’t have made it with just anyone. B and I worked because we both felt the other was worth the effort. Acknowledging upfront that there will be unique challenges is a must. If you can learn to take the harder days in stride and go easy on yourself (and each other), you can thrive. Plus, there’s no feeling quite like finaaallly moving closer.” —Hannah
Two. “Alex and I started dating my freshman year of college. We spent most of the next three years living about two minutes away from each other. When I graduated, I moved from Arkansas to New York for grad school. He moved to Mississippi for a job, then to Texas the next year. In September of my second year of grad school, he flew up and proposed. I finished grad school that May and moved back to Conway, AR, spending about half of my time with him in Texas and the other at my parents’ home planning the wedding. We were married on October 1st, 2016, and I officially moved to Texas the next week.
“It was definitely difficult, to go from living two minutes away to living 2,000 miles away. Not to mention we both lost people in our families while we were gone, and I wouldn’t wish having to fly home for funerals on anyone. But those two years we were apart gave us each a chance to pursue something we needed to and to test our relationship. If you can survive that kind of long-distance, you can survive anything. I wouldn’t do long distance now that we’re married, but I believe it was right at the time.” —Taylor
Three. “My boyfriend and I were long distance because he owned a house in Duluth (property can be a tether) and I lived in Saint Paul (about 175 miles south) while I was going to school. Our moms were best friends, and he came to visit because he was my family’s go-to computer guy and I needed a new laptop. He had a motorcycle and I had the hots for him.
“We were long distance for two-and-a-half years. He would come down and stay at my folks’ for a couple of weekends a month. He took me to concerts and we talked every night, either on the phone or chatting online. He moved down to Saint Paul when he got a new job and sold his house.
“My mom thought it was funny at first and that it would burn itself out. She’s not laughing anymore. We’ve been together for six-and-a-half years, lived together for three, and engaged for one.
“It was definitely worth it because we were crazy good friends before we tried anything serious. It prepped us for the next step and prevented jumping the gun. We are partners, lovers, and best friends. I would totally do it again.” —Carson
Four. “My boyfriend and I have been together for about two-and-a-half years. Two of those years were in college, where we met. We just started being long-distance about four months ago when I began graduate school in Fort Worth, TX, and he had to move home to McAllen, TX to live with his parents while he job hunted and saved money. So we’re not very experienced with long-distance yet, but we’re slowly figuring it out!
It gets hard sometimes when we really miss each other and are impatient to see each other, but I know that it can be fruitful being apart at the same time. Especially because we are both still very young and not ready for marriage yet, living in different cities allows us time to grow as individuals and really discern whether we’re meant to be together long-term. We’ve found out that communication is so important, especially on those super-busy days; just a quick ‘hello’ and run-down of the day from the other is nice.
“Ideally, long distance isn’t preferred—but right now it’s necessary and will be worth the effort as long as we’re both invested and honest about how we’re feeling.” —Lindsey
Five. “I entered into a long-distance relationship with a Navy sailor stationed in South Carolina about three years ago. During the eight months we dated, we only saw each other in person for three days when he was able to take leave. Skype, FaceTime, texting, phone calls, emails, and other forms of communication became the everyday norm to be able to talk to the guy I was falling in love with. Unfortunately, he suffered from manic depression and he eventually went off his medication. Our communication dwindled from constant texts and calls to barely five texts a week. We finally broke it off and he was later honorably discharged from the Navy. We’ve barely spoken since.
“Even though our relationship fizzled, I would do it again with someone I know I love and want to spend the rest of my life with. Through this long-distance relationship, I learned how strong I am and that I don’t need a man by my side day and night to enjoy my life.” —Mary Kate
Six. “My husband and I started dating 11-11-11 at 11:11 p.m. On a blanket outside under the stars, after a Sadie Hawkins-type dance/dinner. Every summer in college he would go home to Magnolia, AR and I would stay home in Greenbrier, AR. Three hours away. We both had jobs that kept us apart, and because his job included working on Sundays, I would drive down every few weekends to see him. It was hard and I wasn’t a fan of it; I cried driving home almost every time. But it wasn’t NEARLY as hard as what I would have to do once we were married.
“We got married 06-07-14 (no special date, but we couldn’t wait), and after being married seven months, he finished college and got a job in Texarkana, TX. I still had a semester left of school in Conway. Yay. Long distance again. I stayed in Greenbrier during the week and came home to Texas every Friday after class. It was AWFUL! Long distance when you’re dating is SO different when you’re having to do long distance married.
“The ONLY reason it was worth it was because at the end of the semester I had a degree, but I will NEVER do it again. Even if someone paid me a ton of money to do it again, I wouldn’t do it. It never caused fights, but it just felt so lonely—especially being in a completely new town where we didn’t know anyone. It was like we had two completely separate lives, and it kept me from really getting to know anyone in our new town being so far away during the week. I don’t recommend long-distance relationships unless it’s a serious relationship and you can’t get around it, because they aren’t fun!” —Amber
Seven. “I was in a relationship for four years, and two of those years were spent being long distance. We started out in the same town (Conway, AR) and didn’t plan on doing long distance at all. One year into dating and he signed up for the National Guard, which meant basic training and AIT were soon to come. He left for training three months after signing up and was sent six-and-a-half hours away to Lawton, OK.
“The hard part about the distance wasn’t not seeing each other, but for the first two months we couldn’t even talk; just letters. I knew I was all-in with this relationship though, and I was determined to do it. A letter every single day for 60 days—I wrote about everything and so did he. At the two-month mark, I finally got to drive the six-and-a-half hours to see him graduate from basic training. After one weekend together, I had to leave and knew I wouldn’t see him for another two months. Those two months drug on, but eventually he moved back and we moved in together and it was better than ever.
“The second time we decided to do long distance is when I graduated college and he still had a bit more to go. We agreed that we both eventually wanted to be in a city that was two-and-a-half hours from where we were then (Fayetteville, AR) and that I should go ahead and move and find a job and a home for us for when he was done. We knew when deciding this that this would be a year-and-a-half of long distance, but we were up for it. After that year-and-a-half, we decided right before he graduated that we were growing apart and changing in our lives. I had new plans for our future and he had second thoughts on moving. We ended it right after our four-year anniversary. This all ended around this time last year.
Looking back at it now, I would do it all again. I grew so much in that time and it really helped me realize if I was meant to be with this guy or not. I learned a lot about myself and relationships and learned how to love and appreciate the time you have with people you love. I also learned to branch out and spend time with people I probably wouldn’t have if I had been with my boyfriend 24/7.
“I learned that not everything goes as planned, but you can’t let things happening in life right now hinder what you want or where you want to be in the long-run. I’m glad I didn’t let this relationship keep me somewhere I didn’t want to be. I’m thankful for everything I went through, good and bad—and I know he wouldn’t trade that time either. Distance isn’t all that scary if you trust someone and trust yourself.” —Paige
Eight. “My boyfriend and I met during our junior year of college—we were both at University of Arkansas, and we started dating pretty much immediately after we met. For the first year-and-a-half of our relationship, we weren’t long distance. Once it was time for graduation in May, I was done and he still had an extra semester left to finish up his minor in Fayetteville. We were so young, and I decided to go ahead and move to Little Rock to work on my MBA. Neither of us had high hopes for the long-distance thing, but weirdly enough it didn’t rip us apart like we thought. Honestly, I was working full-time and going to my classes at night, so even if we would have been in the same place I don’t think we would have seen each other anymore often.
“When he was done with school, we just weren’t ready for that big of a commitment. I was in the beginning of my program, and he got a great job offer in Springfield, MO. I felt pretty strongly that we both needed to stick with what was best for each of us individually at this point (still, soooo young!), so the long distance continued. We went from two-and-a-half hours apart to three-hours-and-45-minutes apart, which was definitely an adjustment, but it was still manageable as long as we both put in effort to make it work. It could definitely be way worse, so I’m thankful we get to see each other as much as we do! We kind of implemented a “switch-off policy” so neither of us ended up being the one doing all the driving, which I think got rid of a lot of potential arguments.
“Now, we’ve been dating for almost four years—the majority of that time apart—and things continue to get better. Of course it’s still extremely hard, but it has helped our relationship grow in a lot of ways. We’ve decided to wait on one (or both) of us moving until we get engaged, so it’s an exciting driving factor that I think helps make things work—kind of the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It was and still is 100% worth it. It’s been painfully hard, but at the same time it has given us both space to really mold into who we are individually and still be together. We both needed some time to grow up after college. I don’t know that I think long distance overall is good, and I don’t know that I would be willing to do this all over again. I think it was a combination of the timing, our age, and our friendship that has allowed our relationship to work from different states. I just don’t know if I would willingly do it again, and to be honest if we were just starting our long-distance relationship at age 24 rather than looking at the end of it….I don’t know if I could do it. It’s all just about the situation I guess!” —Erin
Nine. “My long-distance relationship started out through a friend. I knew my friend Haley for about five years and we talked a lot through Skype. I wasn’t able to see her often because she lived in Georgia and I lived in Arkansas. We had a lot of common friends and we’d chat in groups from time to time. This is where I met my long-distance relationship.
“He lived in Washington and I was still in Arkansas. We chatted a lot online and decided to start a relationship after a couple of months. We chatted for around six months before he decided to come to Arkansas for a month. The month passed, and we hit it off really well and we really liked hanging out, so he decided to stay longer.
“Neither of us wanted to do the long-distance relationship thing again, so he just decided that he would live in Arkansas. It offered him more job opportunities, and it gave us the chance to start going out more often as a couple. As of now, we’re still together and our 10th anniversary will be in January.” —Shannon
Ten. “When I met my current boyfriend (whom I now live with), I was a sophomore in college with plans to study abroad in Europe within the year. So naturally, we hung out, we flirted, we denied that we were really digging each other — because no way was I about to be tied down to a relationship while I was living my dream and traveling the world….right?
“Boy, was I wrong. By the time I left, we had gotten attached, and I had no idea what was going to happen during the four months we were going to be 5,000 miles and a six-hour time difference apart.
“As the saying goes, absence really does make the heart grow fonder though, because within minutes of saying goodbye at the airport, we began flooding each other’s phone with “I miss yous” and “I can’t wait to see yous” that only escalated as more time passed.
“I think that us doing long distance was probably the best thing that could have happened to us — because it forced us to realize how much we actually meant to each other, and it kind of worked as a kickstarter for the “official” beginning of our relationship. However, that does NOT mean that it wasn’t basically the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It had been my dream for as long as I could remember to backpack across Europe, but instead of the carefree trip I had envisioned, I was literally heartsick the entire time, missing this stupid boy who had wormed his way into my life at the MOST inopportune time ever (sorry babe, still love you).
“So in the end, it was worth it to me, because ultimately we ended up together and we are happy and in love and all that other mushy-gushy crap. But even though it worked out for me, I would never, ever recommend it for anyone. I severely underestimated how hard it would be on the front end, and I was not even remotely prepared for how much it would suck. But now that I know, NEVER AGAIN.” —Christine
If you’d like to become a contributor, shoot Elise an email: firstname.lastname@example.org