Does Distance Make the Heart Grow Fonder?
In the ten-odd years I’ve been with my partner, we’ve spent a cumulative of two years and 11 months living apart—sometimes in different countries.
“My partner and I have spent a cumulative of two years and 11 months living apart—sometimes in different countries.”
It started in college. He served in the military while I studied at a university in California. After two years of mostly virtual dating, we married, and I transferred colleges to be near his base in Colorado.
When he got out of the military four years later, we celebrated the life and career transition by taking a year to backpack abroad. During this time, we decided to do some self-discovery and soul-searching, and so we each spent six weeks traveling alone.
Two summers later, my partner took a job on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska while I moved our life to London for grad school; it was the longest long-distance season of our married relationship: six months in total. Fast forward two more years (hello, present day), and I’ve moved to Los Angeles alone to join The Good Trade while my husband wraps up our life in the UK. Next week, we’ll be reunited once again.
I’m aware my experience may be unusual. Seasons of physical separation in relationships aren’t unique, per se; couples of all ages do long distance for various reasons. Military deployments, career and education commitments, cross-country moves, and extended nature expeditions, among other things, take us away from the ones we love. But most couples haven’t chosen to do long distance as often as my partner and me. As we both enjoy our independence, and our aspirations often require extended travel, we’re learning to embrace the ebbs and flows of the sometimes not-so-conventional life we’ve created.
“It doesn’t matter how many days or weeks you’re away from your partner; separation is painful.”
This doesn’t make time apart easy, though. It doesn’t matter how many days or weeks you’re away from your partner; separation is painful. While I never take for granted the lessons these season teach me—trust, communication, independence, autonomy—I dread the distance nonetheless. And it isn’t until my partner is home and we’re reunited that I have enough perspective and clarity to process the positive and negative effects of long distance on our relationship.
If you and your partner are in the midst of a long-distance relationship or about the embark on a season of physical separation, here are a few tips to help you through.