Most people talk about college like starting a completely brand new life, with new experiences and new people. Sometimes, those in relationships go to the same college together, pick different colleges and split up, or pick different colleges and try a long distance relationship. Despite the amount of negative comments from friends like, "good luck with that," and "wow, statistics are against you!" my boyfriend and I found ourselves in that group.
We met in the 9th grade and after a series of back-and-forth, we finally got our s*** together in the 11th grade and started dating. We knew all along we'd end up at different colleges. I knew I wanted to go to Queen's University and he knew he wanted to do a direct-entry medical program in Ireland. That's right, we're across seas.
While I was very nervous and at first, pretty distressed about starting a long-distance relationship, I was hopeful that if we were meant to be like we always thought we were, that it would work out.
We're just about finished with our second year of long distance (and recently celebrated our three year anniversary!) and while it hasn't always been easy, I've learned a lot through it—and it has actually made my college experience better.
I was able to easily form new friendships.
Starting first year was tricky and I was anxious about navigating all the new people and experiences I'd face. If my boyfriend and I went to school together, neither of us would have had this experience to the fullest. Since we both had these experiences completely independently, we were able to spend a lot of time catering to new friendships and having a good time with new people. And now, we have great stories to tell each other.
My confidence in our relationship has grown.
It's easy to make things work when you see each other every day at school, plus Saturday night date nights. What truly tests a relationship's strength is taking away the physical proximity and seeing how things work. My confidence in this relationship has grown exponentially as we don't see each other for up to almost four months at a time, yet we've managed to stay close and connected. In fact, I just keep feeling closer to him as time goes on.
I've been able to focus on myself, without being single.
Since I'm without him for most of the year, I'm able to really focus on myself and my own hobbies and school work. I have no distractions from school and I can sign up for as many extracurriculars as I want. In fact, I welcome more busy-ness as it makes the time go by faster until he's home again!
Our relationship is stronger.
Now that we often have to spend 3-4 months at a time apart, we've had to find other ways to stay close and strengthen the relationship. We've managed to make this work and the time we do get to spend together is so incredible, it makes it all worth it. We have so much faith in our relationship and believe that since we can make it through all this distance, we can make it through anything.
Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
It would be easy for me to get upset and feel sorry for myself and for my situation. But instead, I choose to look at it from a different perspective. So many people search for what I already have. Love isn't easy and things worth having can be really hard. When we're together, the world feels perfect and it becomes clear that this is the right thing to do. There was never any doubt.
Despite my boyfriend being time zones and oceans away, I've been able to truly enjoy this college experience. I won't look back and think "I didn't get to do this because of a boy," but I also won't look back and think "What if I had stayed with that high school boyfriend?" I truly get the best of both worlds and while I miss him VERY much and distance does suck and sometimes I get frustrated, I will never be plagued with "what if" questions on either side.
While I'm not some huge advocate now for long-distance relationships, I'd always encourage someone to go for it. If you love someone, you can both encourage each other to go for your own separate dreams in separate places. And if you love the person, even if being in an LDR doesn't make much sense, loving them makes all the sense in the world. So you toughen up, and keep going.