Love transcends everything. Time, space, adversity. Or so they say.
Long distance relationships are often an eyebrow raiser.
“How do they do it? One of them must be cheating. Are they doing the internet…stuff?”
They can be painful and difficult to cope with. No one ever claims that hundreds or even thousand of kilometers in between partners is easy and breezy. And many couples view this feat as insurmountable and decide to throw in the towel.
People like to be close, to feel connected. Technology has made the distance feel more manageable, but is there really any substitute for human contact? To feel a reassuring hand in yours, or to receive a hug after a long day? I don’t particularly think so.
The concept of a “long distance” relationship in 2015 is laughable to those who sent away their partners to school, jobs, family or wars in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. The advances made in communication technology have been monumental and lovers separated have never been more accessible to one another.
And let’s not pretend we haven’t spent hours binge-watching those classic military homecoming videos between couples on YouTube. The look of sheer bliss and joy on the partners faces as they see each other for the first time in months or maybe even years is unforgettable.
I think that the psychological side to an individual’s perspective on long distance relationships stems from childhood teachings and can be traced back to the environment that a person grows up in. In some families, it’s a passing thought, while in others, it’s a pressing reality. For me, it existed to a limited degree and I experienced firsthand what it could do to a couple and how it was detrimental to people’s relationships. My parents dealt with it in short spurts, for a few months at a time, and over a year and a half, and they survived both times.
When I was a young, rambunctious, ridiculously dramatic child, and my brother, six years my elder, was just entering middle school, my dad left for several installments of three month long work periods in the desolate and barren oil industry 500 kilometers away from home. It was before he went back to school and, while financially stable, my parents didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity for big bucks. So, my mom stayed at home, balancing a full time job and parenting me and my brother by herself. Our nearest family was six thousand kilometers away. In short: she had no help. But she never complained and when my dad returned, they would hold hands and walk behind us kids as we raced to the park. This is when I encountered my first experiences with unwavering and resilient commitment. My dad had grown up in the same small town, with a population of one thousand, from when he was born to when he first left for engineering school. He was built and conditioned for loyalty and never entertained the idea of giving up, despite the adversities that came with loving someone from afar. My mother, on the other hand, was shipped around the continent in a never ending queue of new cities and new faces. From California to Toronto, the turbulent childhood my mother experienced lead her to crave stability, which I believe is where her unyielding love for my father comes from. So when I was a crazy fifteen year old and my dad was offered a hefty salary in another province, they reluctantly agreed. Because, although they valued each other over money, they knew their love could last.
Long distance relationships, however difficult, are worth it in some cases, I think. I say this because of how my parents cherish the simplest things now. My mom sitting in her robe on a lazy Sunday with coffee, pretending that she’s not slipping the dog bacon under the table, while my dad fries eggs and shakes his head with a smile. That’s why I think they’re worth it. Because my parents are so content now, having paid their dues of being apart.
But it’s a double edged sword. While my parents stuck it out and they succeeded, it’s important to recognize when someone isn’t a part of your life’s journey anymore. My brother, for instance, broke it off with his girlfriend of three years when he decided to move away to play college basketball. She wasn’t going to propel his future, and although he loved her, it was necessary. I remember how terrified and upset my brother, this seventeen year old kid was, when faced with his future without the girl he’d grown with and loved so much. But that year, he met his girlfriend of the last four and a half years, and they’ve survived living apart and being separated, and stuck it out because they knew it was worth something.
Now, here I am, about to face a similar situation, because my boyfriend is about to move to another country, while I venture out east. When my brother was moving for basketball, I scoffed. Shouldn’t it be easy? I questioned. Sports and your education is more important than some silly girl. But now, the irony is cutting into me like a hot knife into butter, because I am dealing with the same predicament.
Love transcends everything. And commitment is essential to so many relationships. But I think commitment to yourself and your own well being is important as well. So, do I think my mom should have dumped my dad? No, and I respect them immensely. But love has it’s limits. While the lines of love and rationality can be blurred, they should never be crossed. Long distances are without a doubt awful to deal with, and if one is to commit to being in one, I believe they have to commit fully and without abandon.