The Art of Long Distance Relationships

Half of the internet has notoriously become a battleground nowadays. Looking at the other side, half of it has become another home for love stories stashed under Skype calls and texts, making its virtual space a necessity for relationship stability and a delivery room for modern relationships’ births.And long distance relationships are one of the amazing things that internet has commonly bred.

Can You Fall In Love with Someone You've Never Met?
Impulsively, some may give a distorted face and a “No, of course not” retort. Relationships that start on the internet may still be a taboo topic for some. The stigma that surrounds the idea of dating someone miles away from you is daunting. Long distance relationships are sometimes deemed to be only hard work, a waste of time and a temporary replacement for something that’s lacking in one’s life. They are instantly assumed to end eventually.
However, that’s not the case for some who have deeply connected with people they have never had real eye contact with before in “real life”.

Lilly, from Illinois, met her partner Nes, who lives in Texas, on Tumblr.
“I followed her for a while and always tagged her in those challenge posts, and eventually I sent a message and we started talking and we pretty much became friends right away.”

Now, it’s easy to stop at that point and move on without entering the Romance Route, what with them living thousands of miles away and living different lives. Obviously, despite all these, they fell.

“Our trust built up rather quickly. We both believe the best way to be happiest with each other is [through] honesty and communication and we can easily tell when the other is holding something back or acting off,” said Lilly.

When you’re void of physical connection or proximity, communication tends to happen a lot more. Behind laptops our fear of vulnerability dissipates, making long distance couples open up more about their struggles and triumphs. And as we all know, these stories, give relationships more depth.
Victoria shared the same sentiment. She lives in Pennsylvania and she met her partner Bailey, living in California, through Omegle.

 From left to right: Victoria and Bailey

“I don't know if it's just because we're so in love, or the distance brings us together in a funny way but I definitely feel that our relationship has more depth. I've never felt like this with anyone in my life. This is my first long distance relationship and at first, I was afraid that the distance would tear us apart but that isn't the case. Love is very strong,” she said.
Being in a long distance relationship also opens up a new perspective. Connection becomes greater than proximity. The internet gives us a chance to intimately and deeply know people we’d most likely never talk to if we first met them in person.
“Honestly, I think our relationship has helped me realize that love isn't always about physical connection. To me it's more about emotional connection now; we know each other better than we would've been able to if we met in real life first,” Lilly said.

“It’s a powerful thing, I believe, to fall for someone purely in conversations through text. Some people may think that there is an absence of intimacy- but to me, I think that intimacy is heightened. There is nothing else to distract from two people baring their souls and telling their story as it is.” – Leoni Sii

Not only are their fears hushed down, but long distance interaction also tends to lack the awkwardness of shifting eyes and shaky hands that usually take place in prior encounters.

“Being in a long distance relationship is nice for me because I've never been good at face-to-face interaction, and I feel like if we had started talking in person from the start I would've made an absolute fool of myself,” Lilly said. Knowing that Nes isn’t with her for shallow reasons makes Lilly more comfortable opening up. Because their relationship isn't based around physicality, it makes them more honest with each other.

Going The Distance

For outsiders, it is easy to assume that distance is only a bad thing. However, for these people, distance also carries its own advantages.
“Distance has always affected our relationship in good ways and bad. I think if we had lived in the same town we would've never talked to each other. We're very different people and belong to completely different social groups. Distance to me is just part of our relationship, to be honest. I think every relationship has some sort of distance, whether it be different work schedules, or a family member not allowing the relationship. Ours is just the fact that we live a thousand or so miles apart,” Lilly offered.

“I think it's been good for us because regardless of what type of people we are, we were able to get past the barriers of social cliques in high school and actually get to know each other,” she added.

For Victoria, distance is just a temporary number.

Tumblr user thoughts-dreams-andmemories from South Africa thinks that being apart from their partner gives them something to look forward to. They met their partner through mutual friends and started messaging each other on Instagram, where they started making plans.

“I guess it makes you appreciate seeing your partner more and makes you more excited for each time you'll get to see them,” they said.

Apart from that they also believe that the best part about being in a long distance relationship is that you both have more personal space. If couples live closer, it is more possible to suffocate your partner through your constant obsession with being by their side.

Another couple is Raine, who lives in Virginia and their partner Brandon, from West Virginia. Like user thoughts-dreams-andmemories, they met through mutual friends. 

“Being in a long distance relationship is difficult for sure, but I don’t think I’d change anything even if I could. Distance to me is definitely an obstacle, but I see it more as […] something that we will be able to cross at one point. It’s something that won’t always be a bad thing between us,” they said.

Of course, long distance relationships don't solely consist of cute selfies, sweet pixelated calls and soothing, choppy voices. Long distance couples don’t possess the constant privilege of saying words like, “Can I come over?” or “I’ll pick you up at 7 o’clock”.

“It affects your life a lot in the way that you can't really plan ahead because you need to ensure you can/can't see them for sure before making plans with friends or family. You can't just wake up one morning and decide to go visit them because you need to make plans at least a week in advance,” thoughts-dreams-andmemories said.

“You get sad over the little things; for example, they could be holding your hand and you'd suddenly start tearing up unexpectedly, and at first you're not sure why, but then you realize you're subconsciously realizing they won't be with you tomorrow anymore and that you'll long for their touch,” they added.

Also, due to distance and availability, textual communication is used more often. And textual communication can be a double-edged sword. When words are transmitted through electronics, the lack seeing one’s expressions can make it hard to detect intentions or sarcasm.

“Our worst fight actually happened a month or so ago. […] It was more of us just feeding off of each other's mental illnesses. […] I felt as though she wasn't able to understand what I was feeling at the time. Luckily, she could tell that things were getting out of hand and that I was being aggressive just for the sake of being aggressive,” Lilly shared.

However, the thing that birthed an argument is also what mended it. Everything comes back to communication, but more proper and understanding this time.

“We decided to take a break from the conversation so we could both cool off and get some rest, and the next morning we were able to actually discuss how we both felt about the situation. After that fight, I feel like things fell back into place and I was more comfortable since we were able to actually solve the problem rather than let it fester longer,” Lilly said.

And just like any other relationships, mutual agreement helps resolve conflicts.

“Being in a long distance relationship does give our relationship strength because it makes us open up to each other easier and talk out everything. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 18 months and I can't say that we've actually fought even once. We just say that we get 'stuck', which really just means [that] we get upset with each other over something, but we made this agreement that neither of us ever goes to bed upset and that really helps a lot,” shared thoughts-dreams-andmemories.

Additionally, not seeing things in their physicality doesn’t mean that a relationship is incapable of being fascinating and apparent. When asked how her relationship affected her as a person, Victoria said:

“I try hard in school. I try and do my best on everything [and] do extracurricular activities more so it looks good for colleges. That way, I can move there and be with him one day.”

When asked if being in this kind of relationship holds them back and if they feel like they’re missing out, thoughts-dreams-andmemories said:

“It does tend to make you miss out on things such as parties and hanging out with friends because even though you trust each other, you'd rather not place yourself in a situation where your partner would have to worry about you.”

“I don’t think it holds us back, but I do feel like I’m missing out sometimes, on important times when we need each other,” Raine said.

In contrary, Lilly believed that being in a long distance relationship doesn't hold them back from anything.

“But a lot of people seem to think it does, which is unfortunate. Of course, I wish we could have a physical relationship right now, but the way I see it is there's a possibility we'll be able to meet in person one day and it's completely worth the wait!” Lilly said.

Long distance relationships, however, test one’s ability to truly and completely trust someone. You barely see them in the actual environment and situation they’re in and you just have to go by the information they tell you. You only know them as much as they messages they send you or the things they tell you. That’s when trust comes in.

However, it seems like some don’t really give much emphasis on how they build their trust— it just seems to come off naturally. When asked how they build their trust, thoughts-dreams-andmemories said that they had no idea how to answer it. They said, “We just make it work.”

When it comes to trust and relationship itself, it seems as though long distance relationships work just the same as close distance ones. Minus the distance. It’s a relationship, regardless.

“At the beginning of our relationship, I was scared other girls would flirt with my boyfriend but the longer we're together, the more you tend to just forget about that because you know he'd never do anything to put your relationship at risk,” thoughts-dreams-andmemories shared.

“I think long distance relationships work the same as close distance relationships. They both have ups and downs and such. The only thing that really affects how a relationship works is the people involved. We've fought just like every other couple has, but we talk it through and try to find the root of the problem. I feel like a close distance relationship would work the same!”, Lilly said.
Long distance couples can also create moments as incredibly intimate and memorable as the ones that take place in a physical space. But even when these moments occur virtually, it doesn’t mean that the moments that occur in a non-physical space aren’t any less real.

“It's hard to choose a favorite moment because there's an awful lot. I think my favorite moment of all time was when she first told me she loved me. At this point, we hadn't been dating long but we had known each other for about a year or so. The entire time we knew each other we were both attracted to the other but neither of us said anything; people say they could always tell, though,” Lilly recalled.

“When she told me she loved me, I turned so red and literally could not stop smiling. Even though it was over text I still got so flustered. I immediately told her she stole my thunder because I was planning on telling her, but we were both so nervous to say it because we were worried we'd freak each other out. Overall, I'm glad she said it because the relief I felt knowing she felt as strongly about me as I did about her, was like a huge weight off my chest,” Lilly added.

When asked what her favorite moment with Bailey, Victoria said that it is talking on the phone. “I love hearing his voice,” she said.
Getting to meet the love of your life and making memorable moments in a physical space with them after being apart, where you both have real eye contact with each other— are also incomparable to anything in this multi-dimensional world. It may be as simple as just staring at each other.

“My favorite moment with him is when I haven't seen him for a long time and we meet up somewhere and on the way to either of our houses we'd sit in the car, not really saying anything but smiling non-stop because you're both just so happy to see each other again,” thoughts-dreams-andmemories shared.

Or it may be as reckless as breaking rules.

“My favorite moment with him is when we went exploring in this abandoned hotel and almost got caught by the cops,” Raine recalled.

Hold or Hang-Up?
As enticing as it may seem, a long distance relationship (though, not purely) is indeed challenging. Apart from having to stay up late or wake up early just to video call their significant other, on lonely nights, the only piece of comfort they may feel is the cold LCD screen of their phone on their face. It takes an incredibly special person and a great deal of faith, trust, and communication to make a long distance relationship work— perhaps, more than other relationships do. Love doesn’t care about the place or platform in which it will pop up. It doesn’t have a sense of time either— these couples are living proofs that love just happens. And if these stories teach us something, it is a lesson that humans are capable of getting past superficiality, of appreciating and caring for another human being sincere, even when they live thousands of languages and millions of post offices away.

 Text by Sam Fabian
Visuals by 8-bit Stories


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