Here’s the recap you are welcome to press “skip” for if you’ve been binging my life Netflix-style:
Last year I moved to the South of France to be an Au Pair. One month in I met Arthur, who quickly filled the position of Love of my Life. We passed the next eleven months with seaside picnics and weekends in Spain. Tragedy struck. My visa ran out. He was summoned by the French Navy. So last September we shared a very tearful goodbye at Pearson International Airport, thus commencing our long-distance relationship. In the past five and a half months, we have spent exactly two weeks together, and the rest of the time has been filled with broken FaceTime calls and “goodnight” texts as the other person is about to wake up.
If that was exhausting to read, imagine what it’s like to live.
If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me, with pity in their eyes, “I don’t know how you do long distance!!” I’d have enough money to buy a flight to France (just kidding, I wouldn’t, because it’s like a billion dollars.) So I have surfaced from my blogging hiatus to answer the burning questions on everyone’s mind. Just kidding, I’m sure no one really cares that much. But I am sure most people have, like me, said they’d never do a long distance relationship at some point, and I am here to be a living example of what it’s like to eat your words.
***As a pretty obvious disclaimer I’d like to note that all relationships/experiences are different so I’m just sharing my personal one, with full knowledge that it won’t apply to everyone.
Here’s the mechanics of my relationship. Other than distance, the biggest factor in Arthur’s and my relationship is the time difference. France is six hours ahead of Canada, which really isn’t too bad, but it means that when I am waking up, he has just finished lunch, and when I wish him a good night, I haven’t even had dinner. So we have, on average, nine hours in a day when we are both awake and can communicate, and about seven hours each when one of us is awake and the other is asleep. And that is probably the most annoying and exhausting part of it all. I swear I do more mental math now than I did in all of high school, just calculating what time it is in France.
We text pretty consistently, and we talk on the phone every day, but often it’s just to say, “hey how are you what are you up to today okay we’ll talk later love you miss you bye.” Because here’s a truth about LDRs, or at least mine: you talk all the time to make up for the distance, so sometimes you have literally nothing to talk about and conversations are pretty boring. Which is totally okay, because a boring five minutes is better than no five minutes at all, which sometimes happens. We’re both living our own lives on different schedules, so from time to time we go a day, or even a few days, without really being able to communicate at all.
All of this is to say that Arthur’s and my relationship is unconventional, and not easy. Missing someone is exhausting. So way back at the beginning of all this, I tried googling ideas to keep up long distance relationships, and I scrolled through articles and pinterest boards with tips and tricks, thinking that someone else could give me the magic spell to make it all work. But surprise, they couldn’t. I think “cute note jars” and kinda dumb. Arthur and I are not getting matching love bracelets. And playing online games together isn’t exactly romantic. Maybe this is me being bitter, but there is no such thing as “The 10 Best Ways to Survive a Long-Distance Relationship,” and the more of these lists I read, the more annoyed I become.
And unfortunately, in some of my more bitter moments, I’ve found myself getting petty and qualifying the sucky-ness of different LDRs. In my falling down of the internet rabbit hole, I’ve come across youtube videos of attractive, young youtuber couples talking about how they make long-distance relationships work. I click on them hopefully, grasping for someone to relate to in my struggle, and then I literally yell at my computer screen because exCUSE ME WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S HARD YOU LIVE TWO STATES AWAY HOW DARE YOU.
*takes a deep breath to simmer the heck down*
And then I tell myself to stop being so judgy because everyone’s experiences are different. And to be honest, if I’m going to be doing long-distance, I think I prefer to be dating someone across an ocean than someone six hours away.
“Woah hold up what the heck do you mean Marryl??”
Hear me out. If I were dating someone who lives within a drivable distance, I think I’d lose my mind. We’d have to work hard to find ways and times to see one another. But with an ocean between us, I know exactly when I will and will not see Arthur so my expectations are super realistic and I won’t ever be disappointed if plans fall through. Because there are no plans. Don’t get me wrong, I would recommend my situation to literally no one. But if you’re going to do it, go big or go home. If anything, it makes for a more romantic/tragic story.
To keep this optimism train chugging along, there are some other positive aspects of long-distance, if you can believe it. The biggest one is confidence in the relationship: if I didn’t think Arthur and I were in-it-to-win-it, I wouldn’t be putting myself through all of this. Plus, if we can make it through this, I think we can make it through really anything. We also argue less (yes surprise surprise my relationship seems like a fairytale from the outside, but we are normal so sometimes we have spats which is totally okay) because our time is so precious and we realize that whatever has lead to a quarrel is not all that important in the grand scheme of things. And the greatest part is we get to share this wild, adventurous, crazy love story that always keeps us on our toes, and when we do actually get to see each other, it’s a magical movie-worthy reunion, and our time together is worth so much more.
We survive by texting and calling and facetiming. We survive by always saying good morning and good night, even when it’s not applicable to the other’s time zone. We survive by describing our days in boring detail to paint a clearer picture. We survive by spending our savings on plane tickets. We survive by being in love. I’ve learned that there is no one way to be in any relationship, especially long distance; it’s just whatever works best for you.
I’ll admit I’ve cried a few times in the past 24 hours in respect to Valentine’s Day, because oh man you think you know bitter by being single on this day of love, but I’m experiencing a whole new level of bitter by finally having someone important enough to share this day with and he’s a million miles away like WOW OKAY THANKS A LOT UNIVERSE.
I cried when I saw the flowers Arthur asked my mom to buy for me. I cried when I booked my flight to France in April. I cried when we hung up on FaceTime. Long-distance is so hard and emotional and crappy and weird and fascinating and I would choose a long-distance relationship with Arthur over no relationship with Arthur all day every day.
Love, man. What a magical thing.