When I tell people that my boyfriend and I were in a long-distance relationship for two years, they are often impressed and surprised that we made it. While I don’t disagree that being 3,000 miles apart is challenging—he was in San Diego, I was in Boston—I don’t believe those two years were miserable. Yes, it was hard and yes, it was difficult at times.
The truth is, however, that our long-distance relationship was one of the best experiences I could have ever gone through. John and I are stronger and better for it—both as a couple, and as individuals.
When I met John back in 2009, I immediately told him that I was in the midst of applying to graduate school. When he asked where, I told him I exclusively applied on the East Coast: three schools in Boston and one in Washington, DC. I was ready for a life change. Little did I know, change was staring me in the face and would take me on a date six weeks later.
John and I knew from the beginning that our relationship would eventually be long distance, for at least two years. We made the most of our time together by being that annoying, too-much-PDA, nauseating couple for eight months. Then, in August 2010, we said our tearful “see you laters” and I left for my new life in Boston.
As I settled into Bostonian life, I talked about John to everyone I met. A lot. I missed him every day. But, I was immersed in school and learning, reading, studying, meeting new friends, and exploring my new city. I loved everything about Boston.
Although I missed John like crazy, being apart allowed me to thrive. Before I went to school, I wasn't very confident professionally or personally, and I didn’t have a clear cut idea of what I wanted to do in my career. I was also scared of moving so far away on my own, knowing literally no one.I was forced to acclimate to my new surroundings quickly, and to make the best of difficult situations.
My days were filled with classes, office hours, finding a part time of job, and figuring out how to get around the city without a car. My very first day of class, I was assigned a group project that would last the rest of the semester. (Fun fact, my group members are still my very good friends four years later). My best friends and I lived within blocks of each other and we made new traditions—weekly Lifetime movie nights, 90’s dance parties, drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and of course, Bachelor and beer night. We also were there to commiserate with each other during the inevitable job search after graduation, helping to edit resumes and drinking wine when job offers fell through.
One detail that I loved about our long distance relationship—and something I truly believe made our situation more manageable—is that John also lived in Boston, before we met. As a student at the Berklee College of Music, he explored the same areas as me, watched the Boston Marathon, and went to Fenway Park. It made experiencing the city that much more special because I knew he understood my fascination the sights and sounds of Boston.
Plus, when he came to visit me, it was so incredible to view the city through his eyes. The week after I moved into my apartment, I got a letter and hand-drawn map from John, with Boston landmarks he loved, that he wanted me to visit. It was the nicest, sweetest send-off I could have ever hoped for. That small gesture solidified his support and it is something I will never forget.
Living apart wasn’t all about “finding myself” and being independent. As much as I grew and made my own memories, it was hard. It was hard to spend our first anniversary apart from each other. We celebrated when I was home for Christmas, but on the actual day of our anniversary, I was back in Boston at a birthday party and John was at work. I spent most of the night drunk crying to my friends about how much I missed him.
John and I didn’t spend his birthday together for the first three years of our relationship. Most of my Friday nights in graduate school consisted of getting drinks with my friends and texting John at 3am. When I got a good grade on a paper, or got offered a great internship, it was gut-wrenching to know that I couldn't run home to tell the person I loved the most my good news.
The distance provided opportunities for our relationship to thrive as well. We went through some extremely tough times during those two years. Since we were so far away, we were forced to deal with our issues and face them head-on in order to move forward. We made sure to dedicate time to talk regularly, and work out any problems we were having. We never left a discussion with unresolved issues (or least, we tried), since we knew it could be days until we had face-to-face time again. Let’s just say, Skype was a lifesaver and probably kept our relationship alive.
My advice to anyone considering a long-distance relationship is to have a plan. For us, long-distance worked because there was light at the end of the tunnel. We both knew that after two years, I would either move back to San Diego, or John would move to Boston. No matter what, once school was over, we’d be together.
Moving to Boston made me a better girlfriend. I LOVE hockey now (something John also loves—before I moved I couldn't care less about it). I have a new appreciation for baseball (another sport John is obsessed with). After living through two Boston winters, I understand John’s obsession with living near the beach. I finally get why everyone loves Dunkin' Donuts and I am now obsessed with their coffee—this one makes me a better person in general.
John and I love going back to the East Coast and visiting our old stomping grounds, and reminiscing about our lives in Boston. I now have a job I love, and I use the skills I learned in school every day. I am constantly looking for new opportunities to learn about my craft, and I attribute this thirst for knowledge to the teachers and colleagues at my school.
I forever have memories of coming into my own during a crucial time in my life. I won’t ever have regrets of, “I should have moved when I got the chance.” I am forever thankful of John’s support—he never held my move over my head. And now, if and when the time comes that he wants to move somewhere new, I can say “let’s do it!” with no hesitation, as long as there is a Dunkin’ Donuts nearby.