Unless you’ve been in a long distance relationship yourself, it’s hard to explain what it feels like and exactly what you're getting yourself into. Nothing can prepare you for it.
I don’t think anyone really plans on being in a long distance relationship. Instead, it’s one of those ‘twist of fate’ kind of things that just sort of happens, no matter how much you want to avoid it for your own sanity.
I’ve been in a relationship with a lovely chap from England for one year now. Out of the 12 months that we’ve been together, for only 7 of those months have we been in the same country. After meeting in his neck of the woods while I was on a student exchange, we questioned if it was worth the trouble. We knew from the word go that it wouldn’t be easy, but nothing could prepare us for just how hard an international relationship would be.
After reading some statistics on long distance relationships, it’s been said that couples see each other at least once a month. In my case, once a month sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, these stats don’t really apply to broke university students such as myself and my boyfriend. We are the exception.
We went from practically living with each other in England, to me inevitably returning to Australia and him staying in the UK. That’s the thing about long distance relationships, whether you’re together or not, there is a timer on everything. There’s a timer on when you’re going to see each other again and then when you’re finally on the same continent, there’s a timer on how long you have together before the universe does its thing and pulls you apart again, and then the timer starts over again.
There are both good and bad aspects to being in a long distance relationship. For one thing, it makes you appreciate the moments you have together so much more. It makes the little things you do together so much more significant and special. More than anything, it makes you realise exactly what, and who, you want in this world. As well as that, for someone who likes to lay in bed until 2pm and watch YouTube videos, it’s nice to not have to justify your unique day to day indulgences.
On the other hand it takes a great deal of time and commitment just to make the little things work, and nothing can prepare you for that. Not seeing their face, independent of a screen, for months on end, coordinating time zones just to be able to call them and tell them you love them, and realising you’re drowning in the empty space in your double bed all contribute to the emotional roller-coaster of a long distance relationship.
"There’s a timer on when you’re going to see each other again and then when you’re finally on the same continent, there’s a timer on how long you have together before the universe does its thing and pulls you apart again, and then the timer starts over again."
It’s the little things that you miss; the things you didn’t even realise were things worth missing. It’s the light snoring that you somehow can’t sleep without. It’s not being able to hold their hand. It’s feeling lonely in a crowded room when you’re with your best friends and their partners. It’s not being able to come home from a shit day at work and cuddle up with your love while you whinge and bitch about the world. It’s missing the delirious chats about the meaning of life at 3am. It’s waking up alone on cold winter mornings with no one there to snuggle up to for warmth, comfort and reassurance. It’s harder than anyone can tell you and sometimes, it really does feel like work. It feels like you're constantly breaking your own heart for no reason in particular.
Even though it can sound like 100% doom and gloom 24/7, it’s not. It’s tough, but nothing’s ever perfect. If you’re in a long distance relationship, you just have to remember that every day is a day closer to seeing them.
The world won’t end, you won’t spontaneously combust and your heart won’t split in two when you’re in a long distance relationship. Some days will be harder than others, but you do it. You go through the unforgiving loneliness because you know that someday soon, you won’t be lonely anymore. The minute you see them again face to face, everything falls into place and the complications you thought you had slowly disappear and you know it’s worth it because through it all, not being with that person (no matter of their geographical location) just doesn’t make any sense.
Image: Alex Jack Photography
Charlotte is a 20-year old Journalism student from Bathurst. She likes her music loud and her coffee strong. She's spent six months living in England and can't wait to move into the city. She's also somewhat of a hopeless romantic.