When strangers learn about my boyfriend, they often respond with shock, confusion, and a long list of questions.
No, I’m not dating an ex-con and no, he’s not related to me.
I am simply in a long-distance relationship.
By distance I mean a very, very long distance – you have to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
While the situation is clearly neither the norm nor the ideal, I’m still amazed at the utter disbelief I encounter when I share the details of my romantic life.
A lot of people can’t understand why I’m wasting my glory years – my 20s – on a guy I barely see.
They can’t seem to understand a relationship based on verbal communication rather than physical stimulation.
They doubt the future of our relationship and our ability to remain faithful to one another.
Yes, I’ll admit, it’s pretty hard to date someone almost exclusively on Skype.
I often feel deep sadness when we are apart and wish our relationship could just be normal.
Even when we’re together, there’s usually a little twinge of melancholy present, because I know the moment is fleeting.
Most of the time, I feel stuck in a rut; my life is like the ever so classic cliché of “can’t live with him, can’t live without him”.
But really, as hard as it is, I don’t regret anything.
In fact, with each passing day, even the really difficult ones, I realize more and more that I couldn’t have made a better decision had I tried.
I’ve learned to appreciate my long-distance relationship and the opportunities it offers me.
I’ve learned that if you’re going to have a long-distance relationship, there’s no better time to do it than when you’re in your 20s.
Maybe I should explain:
In my mid-20s, I am considerably new to the real world.
Up until this point in my life, I have had parents, teachers, and various counselors to help guide me through difficult choices.
In fact, my whole life has been an intricate game of Simon Says; told me what to do and then I listen.
It was a comfortable existence, but now it’s time to move on.
I’m ready to start taking charge of my future, but first I must focus.
I must know who I am, what I want and how to achieve my goals.
The next two years will be a pivotal time for me to really become myself.
I don’t just mean professionally, but emotionally and socially as well.
I love my long distance relationship because it gives me the space to work on myself.
Often times, couples drop out of college and try to keep dating, which I think is often a mistake.
Of course, there are many relationships that work out and become happy marriages.
In other cases, however, both people end up suffering.
If you never learn to be alone, you will continue to depend on others.
I don’t have anyone to hold me when I’m having a bad day.
My boyfriend can’t meet me during my lunch break when I don’t want to eat alone.
I am also facing all the difficulties that young adults face on my own.
I’m learning to survive, take care of myself and be independent, which is vital, in my opinion.
However, while I may be alone, I am never really alone.
Sure, my boyfriend can’t physically comfort me or take me out on dates, but he’s never beyond a quick text message.
While I value my alone time, I’ve never been more grateful for my boyfriend’s virtual presence; he is my safety net and my escape valve after a hard day.
Your 20s are a time of self-discovery, not continued dependence.
However, having someone by your side, even occasionally, makes everything easier.
A long-distance relationship offers just that: the chance to be alone, without ever having to feel alone.
One of the most common questions people ask me about my relationship is about my prospects for the future.
They ask where we will end up; they want to know our plan.
My answer is that I still don’t know.
However, there is one thing I do know: I couldn’t have asked for a better person to stand by me while I carry out youth activities… even if he is 5,000 miles away.