There seems to be a plethora (and an overwhelming one if you’re single and don’t want to be) of articles today on how to manage that long-distance dating relationship (LDR for the hip youngsters of all ages). Some seem to have real oomf in them, filled with true experience and valid advice. Some seem to be simple “You can do it!” articles. But their contents is not the point – it’s their topic that catches my attention. As I was reading a really fab one just now on the various phases of long-distance dating and how to survive them all, all I could think was, “What about long-distance besties?”
My best friend, Christine, and I have been long-distance for a while now. I didn’t realize quite how long it has been, until, not quite two months ago, a friend of mine posted a photo on Facebook that read as follows:
A long distance friendship is literally worse than a long distance relationship.
I laughed when I read it, and thought of how Christine and I have been over the years. We’ve had ups and downs of all sorts – in our relationship, in our personal and home lives, in our psychological stability, in our separate dating relationship statuses, and even in our physical locations. And I think we’re loads better friends than we were when we started the long-distance thing.
How long has it been exactly since we lived in the same city? We hit seven years in August.
It kind of blew my mind when I did the calculation, and I saw how long it had been. When did that happen? was all I could think. We’re so close, yet so far physically, I know. But when did seven years of this happen? How on Earth have we done that?
Truly, I think it was love and openness. We loved one another such that, whoever the other was being at the time (even if it were self-involved, egotistical time), we still loved one another. We were each open to whatever the other might need or want to do in her life, either with the other or apart from the other, and whatever she needed or wanted to say about whatever the current matter was.
Christine, for whatever reason, cannot remember my birthday. Oh, she knows it’s in February, but usually sends me some sort of super-happy I-forgot-your-birthday-but-I-still-love-you-and-you-are-amazing communication a week or two before my actual birthday. We have celebrated my birthday together for the past 11.5 years, Facebook retains the fact of its timing, and she still gets it wrong come February.
So, how is this an example of our openness and love with and for one another?
Firstly, we talk about it – either one of us might bring it up to help her remember when my birthday is, and we know that it is “safe” to bring up and discuss (because of the whole loving part).
Secondly, neither of us is offended about it – if she forgets, I simply remind her of the correct date; if I remind her ahead of time, she is grateful for the reminder. We both know that there are other things happening in life, and for both of us. So we accept with open arms whatever happens to be put on the table for us.
And thirdly, we love one another, we bond over it, and our love for one another grows – the only reason we are able to treat the situation as we do, is because we love each other in the first place. And since we treat the situation with openness, we are able to speak freely on the topic and laugh about it, and have fun with it, thereby having fun with one another (bonding). Each time we end up discussing it, we experience the love and the fun and the bonding, and our true appreciation of the whole situation allows us to experience the love newly, as well as to expand our capacity for loving the other. (That last one is difficult to put into words, so I hope that made sense enough.)
Without our love and openness, I think things would have fallen apart entirely. Yes, we have times when we don’t vocally talk for months at a time. And even times when we have no communication for a few weeks! We get busy in life, and when our daily lives aren’t shared, we sometimes don’t make time for one another. However, we don’t ever make that mean that one of us does not love the other – we are clear, down to the core, that we love one another. And we know that it is so on both ends of the relationship.
Even when Christine starts spending loads of time with a new girlfriend she thinks is amazing (or even her husband), I know that she isn’t getting rid of me – she’s just expanding herself and her love in her daily life, and taking care of herself – we need in-person relationships to survive. And when I sometimes grow really annoyed with something in life, and just want to be mad for a bit, even though we have finally organized a Skype date, she is happy just to let me be mad and self-involved for our Skype session – she loves me and wants to be part of my life, and she knows that my anger is just my current experience of life, and so embraces it and me in our time together.
I’m not sure how to end this, so I’ll just say the following and be done:
Long-distance relationships of any kind can be difficult on a million levels – ours most certainly is at times, because we just wish we could be together, and then sometimes futz up the planning whenever we do get to be together – , but, if both parties are interested in keeping it alive, and willing to be open and loving, no matter what (even if the other ‘messes up big time’), the relationship is totally doable.
We don’t have a set end-time for our long-distance friendship, but we do discuss it regularly. Last month was maybe a year or two; this month is maybe next year; and next month probably will be maybe three or five years. We plan to live in the same neighborhood one day (the idea is whenever one of us has kids), but are completely open as to when that day actually happens – we want each other to live life to the fullest, even if it is semi-without the other for a while longer. Life is constantly changing, in a beautiful (if you allow yourself to see it that way) ebb and flow. So, too, must our relationships be. That’s how we get to know the true beauty of the relationship, and of life and love.
Day 22 of 40