We were in the middle of lunch at the P.F. Chang’s right by our old college stomping grounds when my friend Melissa said something that changed the way I saw my relationship. I had just finished describing how Erik and I saw each other on weekends, sometimes only every other weekend. Her response was something along the lines of, “wow, so you’re basically in a long-distance relationship.”
As soon as she said it, I could feel a weight come off of my shoulders. Ever since Erik graduated college and stopped living in his dorm room twenty minutes from my house, we’ve been limited to seeing each other on weekends. We live a little over an hour apart, depending on how quickly we drive, so it can be a bit inconvenient to drop in for a short visit. Weekends are usually all-or-nothing: either we go straight from work Friday evening and stay until Sunday night, or we skip it. It’s not worth the time and gas money to go for one overnight.
Since then, I had been struggling with so many feelings and frustrations, but couldn’t pinpoint the source. Any weekend not spent together felt like I was unwanted. If there wasn’t the right ratio of alone time and time with friends, I was agitated. When we would part ways on Sunday night, I would go to bed fighting back tears.
I still have some of those feelings, but putting a name on it and identifying it as a long-distance relationship somehow felt better. I was no longer trying to compare it to everyone else’s "normal" (for lack of a better word) relationships, couples who lived together or lived in the same town, and wondering why ours was different. I was more forgiving of my feelings because the circumstances were creating them, not something inherently wrong with the relationship.
When I think of long-distance relationships, my best friend Danielle comes immediately to mind. And when I think about how her husband is several states away from her, how she’s lucky to get any communication at all because he’s in the navy and on a submarine half of the time, I tend to discount my feelings. There’s no way my situation compares at all to hers.
That’s just it, though. Life is not about comparisons. There will always be someone better or worse, richer or poorer, in a better or worse situation. To a couple who live across the globe from each other, me calling an hour-long distance 'long' will be absolutely laughable. To a couple that live together, an hour seems like an eternity. It's not necessarily the exact distance, but that it limits our freedom to see each other. That's the part that sucks the most.
At the end of the day, what matters is how we feel in our given situations regardless of how it looks to other people. If tacking a label to my relationship makes me feel lighter and more peaceful about my life, then so be it.