By Leanne Vastbinder, Staff Writer
When I first met the guy who would eventually become my boyfriend, we were living in the same city and seeing each other once or twice a week. Little did I realize that we would only have six months together until I would travel over 1000 miles to attend college. Moving away from home not only forced me to adjust to a new environment, but also adapt to what seemed like a new relationship. Shifting from in-person to FaceTime calls, care packages and occasional love letters proved to be more challenging than I originally expected. However, it has actually been more rewarding than I could have ever anticipated.
Sadly, most people have a negative view of long distance relationships. There are many couples who find long distance to be an insurmountable challenge and eventually grow apart. Although at only 20 years of age my experience is quite limited in the realm of relationships, I have found that long distance can actually help couples renegotiate their relationship and motivate them to be more intentional in their efforts to stay connected. That’s right: long distance can actually improve relationships. Personally, long distance exposed my own selfish perspective of relationships, challenged my boyfriend and I to pursue deeper conversations, and taught us to truly trust one another.
Before moving across the country, I carried many unrealistic expectations. I mainly viewed our relationship in terms of what I wanted and what I thought I was entitled to. After being separated, however, I realized that I had been chasing a mirage of love, rather than the selfless, sacrificial love a relationship needs to thrive. Even though being separated didn’t fix all of our problems, it continues to open my eyes to the importance of redefining our relationship.
Long distance has also motivated my boyfriend and I to have deeper conversations. Since we can’t create memories together, we have to be more intentional in communicating. Some topics definitely need to be addressed in phone conversations rather than through extended text messages. We have developed a new appreciation for conversations that truly promote emotional connection and grow us closer together.
Ultimately, distance has become a platform for developing trust, loyalty and assuming good intentions. While our schedules, time zones and activities may sometimes keep us apart, we continue to pray for one another. We encourage each other to grow in faith and become the best that we can be.
Overall, I have found that long distance relationships can be both challenging and rewarding. Although they may appear quite daunting at first, in truth, they actually foster endless possibilities for connection and closeness. My experience dating long distance has changed my entire perspective on relationships and love. True love is a choice. It is a decision to serve, give and support someone else, even when I don’t feel like it, and particularly when I don’t deserve it.
Long distance has given me a glimpse of the kind of love a relationship needs to thrive. It encourages my boyfriend and I to pursue deeper conversations, and simply trust one other. I can honestly say that our relationship has benefited from being long distance. Distance is like a spotlight that reveals our insecurities and weaknesses, but it can also be a bright light that shines on our commitment to truly engage in a faithful friendship and deeper connection.