My boyfriend lives about 700 miles away.
Maybe 50 or even 20 years ago, I would be saying this to complain. Nowadays, it’s really more of a plain statement, because long-distance relationships are infinitely easier than they used to be.
That’s not to say I never complain about it, especially to my boyfriend. I express my displeasure in carefully crafted, eloquent statements such as, “I miss you,” and “School is stupid, everything is stupid. Let’s quit so we can hug each other full-time.”
It’s especially hard to transition out of spending actual time together and into only being connected through words and screens. Parting ways over spring break felt like going from having a real, 4-D boyfriend to having a trail of tracks left in your music library that seem to indicate a boyfriend. As one of my friends said, “Long-distance relationships: the joy of being with someone you love without them actually being there.”
But I have no actual justification to complain about my situation. There are couples who are separated for far longer periods of time, across far greater distances. There are couples who can only call each other on rare occasions due to military deployments. And there were couples, in some far-off, barbaric time period, who were separated over enormous distances for extensive periods and could only communicate through letters.
My boyfriend and I do send each other letters, but that’s really the icing on top of the instant-communication cake. I look forward to a letter from him with the eagerness of a child, but I also know exactly when to expect it, thanks to the Snapchat he sends me of him dropping the letter into the mailbox. And that Snapchat is one in a sea of snaps, texts, Facebook messages and phone calls that we send back and forth.
In some ways, technology has complicated long-distance relationships. Sometimes people are different through texting than they are in face-to-face interactions. Of course, there’s the classic issue of misunderstanding a text because there’s not a font to indicate sarcasm, and the issue of wondering why someone read your message and hasn’t responded.
I’ve had plenty of friends warn me about long-distance relationships, citing the time, energy and money — especially money: plane tickets, gas and extravagant outings upon reunions — they poured into a relationship that didn’t feel quite real.
But the technology seems to have made long-distance relationships much easier. I’ve heard happy stories about falling asleep together on Skype, of watching movies together over the phone and of care packages filled with thoughtful gifts.
Besides, realistically, I don’t have time to hang out with my boyfriend this semester anyway. If he lived closer, I would probably either never see him because of school, work and all of the other things that keep me busy; or see him all of the time, at the expense of my academics, my job and all of the other things that keep me busy.
Even though my friend was joking about having someone you love without actually having them, the reality of it is actually kind of nice. We both have the support system, the conversational partner, the music/book/movie recommender and the partner in bad-pun crime. We also have our own space, and our own lives and our own time to work.
The fact that I found a person so cool that I want to date him, even from far away, means I can’t really complain. I have a person who makes it worth it. Of course, the ability to talk to him whenever and wherever doesn’t hurt, either.