What I want you to know about having a long-distance relationship

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by Stacey D.

I know, I know, you've heard it all before. Long distance is hard. Long distance can't be done. There's no real shock value behind this sentence anymore. I've heard it so many times. Yet, love will triumph over distance, if you roll up your sleeves and put work into it.

I met my boyfriend three years ago when I was studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. A girl had stopped me in a bar and complimented me on my shirt. A friendship formed between us and her friends which resulted in me being introduced to my boyfriend a month later. The odds of us meeting were slim but our personalities fit together perfectly. We never let the idea of distance hold us back from being together. We also didn't know how difficult it could be. We just became a couple, as simple as that.

Long distance relationships do progress differently than most. You aren't given the luxury to date and spend more time together gradually. You're together 24/7 for a chunk of time and then you're not. You go from consistently being together, to complete silence. Time takes on new meaning. You begin to question if you're living at the airport. I can honestly say I'm genuinely excited to board an airplane & plan out which movies I'll be watching for the seven hour flight to Ireland.
While these types of relationships might never be desirable, they're certainly not without benefits. I've been given the opportunity to learn about a completely different culture. Although Ireland might not seem different at first glance, there is so much to learn. I certainly never turn down tea & biscuits nowadays. In fact, when I'm in America I tend to crave it! In the years since I've been with my boyfriend not only have I been fortunate enough to visit him over 14 times but I've also been able to travel with him. We've been to Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, France, Disney World & Peru. Sure, any couple could save and travel but there's nothing better than booking a cheap Ryan-Air flight with him and just discovering someplace new together.

There are dark moments, too. Moments when you question if you can do this anymore. The sound your voice makes when it gets caught in your throat as you try not to cry in the airport. The endless counting your mind seems to do. Counting the days until you're together. Counting the days until you're apart. You ache for the nights when you're just able to watch a movie together. Email becomes your new best friend. You learn not to take small moments for granted. Days turn in to months. They pass by you and you begin to wonder if you're losing precious time. Why are you spending so much time apart? What if this never ends? You turn over each question in your mind anytime your day hits a lull. You try to stay busy and occupy your time so that your mind will not wander off into this miserable thoughts.

There is no other man I'd rather be dating than the one I'm with. For all the heartache that we endure is completely worth it when we're finally together. I use tumblr to connect with others about the strength it takes to be in a relationship like this. Long distance might be hard, but it's not impossible.

For us, there will come a day when we see the light at the end of this lengthy tunnel. Although our situation isn't easy, it's nothing that our love cannot handle.
I think what most people don't realize it how much dedication is needed for a long distance relationship. I have 8,511 emails from boyfriend in my inbox at the moment and that's only from this past August until now. You have to learn how to handle disagreements, understand tone, and read jokes without hearing their voice. You must be able to talk to one another. Jealously happens, fights happen, stress happens. But if you're able to communicate in a healthy way than you will find a way to work things out. Most times, my jealous moments come from the friends who get to see my boyfriend more than me. And once he understands that I'm just grumpy because his friends are able to hangout with him more than me, he completely gets it.

And that's what I want to share. The world is a big and small place all at once. It doesn't matter if it's 100 miles or 1,000 miles. It doesn't get easier but it does make your relationship stronger.

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