Squeeze Me In

I don’t think there is a good-enough way to put into words what exactly a long distance relationship is. Because until you are in one, there isn’t really a way to fully grasp all of the feelings that it brings, and every little part of it that makes it work. There are two ways you can think of it. Some may say “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” while others will say “out of sight, out of mind.” And I am here to say: it’s honestly a little bit of both. Depending on the type of person you are, and the type of relationship you and your partner have, a long-distance relationship can essentially work for anyone. There is no right or wrong way to do it, but there are a few things I have learned.

There are two types of distance. 
When someone hears the word distance, the obvious meaning that first comes to mind is physical distance. You aren’t able to obtain what I believe to be the simplest part of any relationship, which is just being with each other. There are simple things that are so small, and usually don’t require you to do a whole lot, that until distance takes them away, you forget just how important they really are—things like being able to hold their hand, or looking at their face independent from a screen. Or having long conversations without the static behind a phone call, and being able to kiss them goodnight to end your day. These simple things are what become so much more special, because when it feels like something is missing, you pay a lot more attention to what exactly used to fill that place.

The biggest thing I have realized, though, is that it’s not only physical distance. There’s this sense of emotional distance that is the hardest thing you may have to deal with. Physical distance is hard, but it is the emotions that come with the distance that become nearly unbearable. Those simple things, that require little to no effort at all, are all things you can just feel: laying next to each other, sitting with each other while the other is doing homework, or going to work and knowing you will have them to come home to. There’s a lot that you never really pay attention to because you don’t have to. Oftentimes, it is just their presence that gives you that feeling of doing something together, even when you aren’t doing anything at all. It’s hard to have that when you are long distance, because you have to work ten times harder to make it feel like you are together.

That sense of emotional distance comes from the fact that your lives become nearly completely separate. It’s almost like having to make sure you can find a place to squeeze yourself in wherever there is enough room so you don’t completely disappear. On a good day, it works. You text each other throughout the day, send each other photos, and maybe even a phone call in between classes. For a second, it almost feels like you are a part of their day. But on a bad day, maybe that phone call before work ends in tears, or you start to crave attention when their attention isn’t available to you. The emotional distance then becomes overwhelming and sometimes makes it all feel impossible.

Sometimes, it will feel like the end.
Long distance is especially hard because there will be really good days, or there will be days that feel impossible. The good days are where the balance is just right, and you feel like you are doing enough for each other. These days typically have the longer phone calls, the best conversations, and you’re reminded of why you both decided to make long distance work in the first place. These are the days that you want to remember, but they will tend to fall to a blur when a bad day comes. The bad days feel like the worst. It’s a pain I cannot even fully describe because it’s one thing to fight with the person you lovethat’s already painful enough as isbut fighting with them and not being able to physically be with them, too, makes fighting feel like you are fighting towards something unattainable.

There will be fights that feel a lot worse than they actually are. You have to remember, you are fighting with them hundreds of miles away, and behind a screen. There will be fights that come from frustration, and out of simply just missing them. You never, and I mean never, should take it out on them, but sometimes you do. And essentially, you learn that you never mean to, and you will work a thousand times harder to remind yourself of that. There is a different level of understanding that is needed in a long distance relationship. A lot of times, the feelings of frustration because things aren’t easier, they are feeling, too. The overwhelming amount of feelings you have towards missing everything about them and the relationship you share with them in person, they are also feeling. Distance is hard enough as is, so sometimes you have to pick and choose your battles.

You’ll sometimes ask yourself if it’s worth it. And you’ll come to realize that distance is not what decides if it’s worth it or not; it’s the relationship you and your partner have that does. A lot of the times, it is worth it, but depending on your current state of mind, it’s hard to remind yourself of that. There is a reason you two are together, and a reason why you believed long distance could work in the first place. But like I said, the bad days feel like the worst, so it is hard to remember these kinds of things. So, I’ve found that you have to communicate your feelings more than you ever have before. When you have a petty fight with your partner, often times a quick silent treatment and swerving of a kiss could be enough to tell that one of you is upset. But the beauty of distance is, you don’t have any room for pettiness. You absolutely have to communicate everything or, I mean, how else are they supposed to know?

Communicate like you have never communicated before.
A lot of the times when you fight with your significant other, the one thing that the both of you will really need is reassurance—whether that be reassurance that everything will be okay after a poor mental health day, or reassurance that the two of you are going to be okay when you are feeling a little insecure. One thing I have learned and take full pride in is that it is okay to be needy. We are all human and humans generally need attention. But you have to communicate when you are, because shutting down and lashing out only causes a bigger problem that the both of you cannot control. So you learn that it’s okay to want attention, it’s okay to want to feel wanted, and it’s okay to express these kinds of things. I’ve found that it’s important to establish this in a long distance relationship early on, because it’s a feeling that reoccurs a lot. It’s hard to feel wanted, or to receive the attention you crave, when you are so far apart. It’s a constant feeling of needing to be squeezed in so you don’t disappear.

Sometimes, you will also feel like it is hard to communicate. Sometimes, the situations you find yourself in and the things you think about too much seem like fights waiting to happen. Being away is significantly hard because you spend a lot of time physically out of each other’s lives that it becomes really easy to feel like there isn’t a whole lot of room for you. Usually, that isn’t even the case because you and your partner tend to keep each other in mind no matter what, and begin to see each other in everything you do. It’s just hard to remind yourself of that when you get stuck in a feeling.

The hardest things that I have found to communicate are the things that are typically hard for you yourself to even swallow. Communicating about the things that are painful, and the things that make your world a little scarier, are always hard to talk about. But there’s a hole that’s easy to fall into when you don’t say these things out loud to the person that makes these kinds of things feel a little less lonely. As they become harder to handle, you might even notice it begins to affect how you act in your relationship. So at this point, it’s even more necessary to talk about it.
Things like mental health are hard to discuss because there is a lot of baggage you are both carrying, and giving, to another person. It’s harder to convey just how bad your mental health situation is over a text or a short phone call. Being apart from each other in these situations are the hardest because it feels like you are then at two completely different points of your lives. On one end, one of you is doing just fine, while the other...not so much. There’s this sense of feeling guilty for placing this burden on your partner because you aren’t there in person with them to have to deal with it, so you feel like they shouldn’t have to. But you tell them and it becomes something they now have to deal with from afar, which makes it hard on both of you. I think through this, though, you sort of learn that it isn’t your intention to make things harder, although sometimes, that’s just exactly what happens. It, too, isn’t their intention to make you feel like you are too much to handle; it is just a situation bigger than the both of you. It’s in communication like this your relationship grows. You are meant to be each other’s person, so it’s important to feel like you can talk to each other about everything that makes up your life together.

Always, and I mean always, try to see things from their perspective. It is absolutely essential that you understand the situation before you enhance the situation. I’ve learned that not being able to understand where the other person is coming from makes an already painful situation even more painful.
I could go on forever about how essential communication is in any relationship, especially a long distance one, but there’s just too many areas to cover considering communication is all you really have. I mean, you talk about your plans, you talk about each other, you even talk to each other in a way that makes up for the fact that you can’t physically hold them. Your words are essentially what keep you together when you are apart. You learn to talk about everything, and I mean everything! It doesn’t even necessarily have to be deep. It’s important to discuss what you need and what exactly you are feeling, but it’s also important to talk about everything that makes up your days to keep things normal. Some days it can feel super dramatic, but other days, you are just happy to have had time to text throughout the day. Something even as simple as a winky face emoji can mean the world because they snuck it to you during their shift at work. It makes you feel like you are a part of them again.

Everything is different from before. (It’s good!)
You learn to trust each other more intensely. You have to. You have to trust that they are still going to go out and live their lives and that you will still be in their mind while that’s all happening. Even when it doesn’t feel that way, you have to trust that it is that way. Some days are harder than others but there’s a balance. When you trust them to live their lives, you are establishing each other’s independence. And I have found that it is most important to keep your independence. It is the one thing you will always have while you are away from them, and what will make you better, when you are with them again. 

With communication comes a new sense of maturity that shapes your little love story. When being apart, you are forced to establish a different kind of connection that works for the both of you. Maybe you plan date nights every week that involve watching a movie together while FaceTiming, or ordering in from the same restaurant to eat while spending time together coloring and talking and just trying to create a space where you feel like you are in each other’s presence again. Maybe you even call each other every night to fall asleep “next to each other.” Whatever it may be, it’s effort. A different type of effort that I think makes your time together even more special. Suddenly all the fights you thought were going to end you actually shaped you.

You’ll notice that the short time you do get to be with each other after a while feels like the clock is constantly ticking. There is also an insane amount of pressure to make everything perfect, because you expect it to be. Distance is what was making things so hard, so now that we are together everything should be fine, right? You try to fit in everything that you have missed about your physical relationship for so long. (Believe me, I have had things planned two months out for the next time I see my girlfriend.) There will be lots of kisses and cuddles and tons of things to talk about that you couldn’t fit in during those phone calls or texts. You appreciate everything that makes up the two of you together. It kind of feels like each time you see each other after not seeing each other for a long time, feels like the beginning all over again. There’s always that first kiss you share when you finally get to see them, and it’s like learning how to kiss all over again. And as cheesy as it may sound, it’ll give you those same stupid butterflies, and you’ll both remember why there are just some things worth holding onto.

By Alana Rose Marcelino


  1. Captures the essence of a long distance relationship perfectly, super thought provoking piece

  2. oh yes this is GOOD stuff. very insightful and emotive even though its written as almost a guide