My boyfriend used to make the joke that we met on a dating website. He always picked Christian Mingle as a joke about his lack of religious leanings. I always picked Black People Meet for obvious reasons. The truth is that there was no dating website, but there was an established connection online.
Long distance relationships, while still a minority of romantic relationships, are no longer balked at the way they were in the early 2000s. While growing in number, they will never outnumber the amount of proximate relationships-relationships in which partners live within close distance to one another. I believe, however, that long distance relationships will one day be numerable to an extent that will no longer garner extra attention.
People are realizing that love does not need to be local.
The wonderful thing about modern technology is the ease we have in connecting with others over distances greater than we could travel by foot. We can supersede barriers with little to no effort thanks to technology and build substantial relationships. The ocean, though great, has become traversable through a computer screen.
People began to realize shortly that love was not only available within 20 minutes, but could be found even 2000 miles away.
People still struggle with approaching the idea of approaching the long distance relationship as viable. I cannot emphasize the amount of time people have expressed their concern over the “safety” of my relationship.
“Isn’t it dangerous?” “How do you know you could trust him?” “He could be some sort of psycho!”
There have been many unfortunate cases of people falling into the online traps of others who have falsified their identity. There are shows dedicated to the unveiling of imposters who scam others into thinking they are in a relationship. Even more concerning have been the cases of people coming to be harmed by those they have met online.
I appreciate the genuine concern, but at the same time, proximate relationships can be just as dangerous.
The idea of proximity provides an idea of safety. If we are close to one another, we are better able to scrutinize.
Because it lacks the normalcy of proximity, the long distance relationship is considered to be an inherently dangerous relationship. It defies everything that we have come to believe over centuries of indoctrination. If we do not have near immediate access to our partner, we fall prey to suspicion.
Many people in long distance relationships cannot easily travel to one another. They are separated not just by miles, but by borders and oceans. Flying is rather expensive.
I am fortunate enough to be in a relationship where traveling is a viable option for the both of us. We regularly visit one another at every opportunity — about twice a year. We have met one another’s families and friends, thus establishing camaraderie and connections. We make sure that we talk every day even if our schedules reduce that to brief hellos.
Proximity will continue to be a problem until one of us is financially ready to make the move. It is not so simple as just uprooting my life for someone else, no matter how much I may want to. Both my boyfriend and I have responsibilities that cannot simply be abandoned for romantic passion. A strong relationship requires balance, and we have established that.
Proximity does not have to be a major problem.
I would say that working through the obstacle of distance has done more to strengthen my relationship rather than weaken it. We have had to make patience the first practice of our relationship. I have learned more about working with my boyfriend as a partner and equal in order to meet our goals. We supported one another through undergrad. When he graduated the year before I did, we considered the idea of him moving out to Santa Fe with me. Eventually, we both decided that it would be best for us if I focused on my senior year and maintained my on-campus job which required me to live on campus. That job was my only source of income other than odd babysitting jobs, and I was not interested in being fully reliant on him.
Early on in the relationship, the two of us found ways to work around the requirements of a proximate relationship.
Spending time together is a matter of creativity rather than sheer physical closeness.
We work together. He helped me edit my senior thesis over the course of a three hour long Skype call. When he works on his music(his first love), I will often ask for files so that I could listen and offer commentary on his work. Occasionally, we will maintain a video call while the both of us are writing — finding comfort in just being able to see and hear one another.
We would spend hours using screenshare on Skype so that I could watch him play video games, or so that we could catch episodes of Bob’s Burgers or anime together. When that feature was taken away, we figured out another plan. During the video call, we simply press play or pause at the same time — all the while giving commentary. Eating meals together is not too difficult aside from time difference. We can easily pull up a Skype call during breakfast/lunch/dinner. Whenever the mood strikes us, one of us will read to the other over the phone or Facetime.
Another method I employ to close the distance between us is through letter writing. I have sent him dozens of letters over the years despite the fact that we regularly communicate. By broadening our lines of communication, we have managed to fill in gaps from which my proximate relationships have suffered.
In the times that we are in proximity to one another, we pass the time in similar ways. I will lay across his bed playing his video games as he watches or joins in. Depending on whom is the one traveling, the partner hosting whisks the other through the city to see museums or landmarks. We regularly introduce one another to landmarks of our childhood and places that hold special memories. My favorite memory of being with my boyfriend was cuddling with him as he read a section of his favorite book to me — a mirror of something we do when we are apart.
I have come to realize that similarities in the way we spend time together both apart and in proximity have contributed greatly to our tenacity in the face of distance. The few changes we experience makes our relationship feel organic no matter where we are located. My boyfriend and I have established a balance that is not limited to one location.
This is not to suggest that being apart is not hard or painful. I do suggest, however, that the pain is lessened by the amount of work my boyfriend and I have put into our relationship. We routinely work through the weaknesses and deficiencies that become apparent to us. This is an action in which all couples should partake — our efforts just happen to revolve around proximity.
I look forward to the days when I will be physically near him. He and I are always working towards that goal. At the end of the day, however, our happiness is not dependent on proximity.
(Cross posted with from my MediumTM account.)