Gilby’s Guidance #2

Going the Distance

Image: nimble photography. /
Image: nimble photography. /

Being in a long distance relationship had never been something I was willing to entertain the idea of. Seeing ‘So-and-so has now become single’ on Facebook became an everyday occurrence in the first few months of the university year. The success stories seem to pail into insignificance as you hear about the first loves failing, the replacements (who are a ‘definite downgrade’) and the events leading up to finding out about the shocking indiscretions. I had always wondered why people bother with the frustrating fuss of it all? Surely there are enough single people in London to be able to keep you entertained, rather than clinging on to the safety of something you’ve already been doing but enjoying it only a fraction of the amount you once did.One of my best friends went to university in America and keeping up that long distance relationship was a strain. Arranging Skype sessions, being woken up in the middle of the night by her replies and a few stern messages if one of us had been slacking with the maintenance of our friendship. So all these worries about just a friendship had put me off the idea of a boyfriend who I would have had all these same stresses with, and then some! Friendships don’t include the jealousy, the lack of intimacy and the emotional intensity that a romantic relationship would drain out of you.Until recently, I adamantly refused to open my eyes to any of the reasons why people chose to put themselves through the heart ache. I’ve watched my fair share of long distance movie couples giving it their best shot, yet still I remained unconvinced. (Sorry Noah and Allie!) The revelation that I have experienced recently has allowed me to understand a little less ignorantly why people make the decision to struggle against the current of the tide.The fear does still remain that distance can act as a black hole that has the ability to swallow up any immediacy to face the problems in a relationship. I stand by the notion that you can embrace a state of limbo in long distance relationships that you cannot in relationships of closer proximities. It is easy to live your university life completely separately from your relationship and still be too dependent on the person to want to cut all remaining ties.Despite my seeming pessimism, I do think there is capacity for huge gains from long distance relationships. Choosing to be with someone when it’s not the easiest option instils a certainty in the relationship that you couldn’t have had otherwise. It also ensures that you probably won’t slip in to the usual couple isolation period, missing out on nights with your friends and meeting new people won’t be an issue as you are forced to hold both aspects of your life with equal weighting. Even if the relationship buckles under the pressure, having the courage to know when to say when requires such levels of bravery that it will change your outlook on all future endeavors.

With a new found respect for couples that make it work over a longer distance than a tube journey, I am forced to tackle the notion that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. I think the fondness only grows when the absence has morphed back in to presence, but that absence breeds a rationality and objectivity in your feelings that is difficult to attain when joint at the hip with your significant other. The seeming romanticism of a pining heart will at some point grow tiresome but while it is deemed worthwhile, let university life keep you from the Lonely Hearts Club.



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