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a fireside chat about long-distance relationships

We live out of the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves, which are mindfully crafted based on past experiences. It makes sense, psychologically, that we would tell ourselves that certain things will happen when they've already happened.

One of the stories I told myself is that I have an eight-month cut-off. There's something that happens around eight months where relationships have taken a turn for the worst, the blocks stumble, and it ends at around eight months. Month six and seven were not just like "getting to know you" it was like "we're getting married" and now, month eight rolls around-- just two months past "we're getting married," and we're here-- defs not getting married.

The most mature separation was one of my first when I moved out to Idaho, and we simply realized we wanted different things in life. I should be more honest, I decided I wanted different things. His wants remained the same and have remained the same, but mine changed, and I had to honor myself. I ended things over Skype. Remember Skype? What a time.

It's okay for desires in life to change, and therefore, relationships that may have worked in the past might not continue to work now. It was a hard realization to come to, but I knew within the depths of my soul that I was making the right decision.

We had been in about an eight-month-long long-distance relationship because I had moved to Idaho and he still lived in Minnesota. The relationship was longer than that, but the time apart was eight months. Then something haunting happened.

A friend of a friend asked me if I was single (before we broke up), and I said no. She said whose the guy? I said my boyfriend from college. A woman, probably in her early thirties, said, "that relationship won't last more than eight months apart."

As I was pulling up Skype in my friends' detached garage turned into a studio apartment to break up with Boyfriend, my mind flashed to this woman telling me it wouldn't last more than eight months -- and I looked at the calendar --- and she was spot on. It had been eight months. Out of sheer defiance, I wanted to not listen to my soul and not break up with Boyfriend just despite her-- but that would be the wrong reason to not follow through.

Fast forward six years, and I meet a guy on a beach. When we first began talking, it wasn't so much flirtatious as just really real. Sharing things one doesn't just share upon randomly meeting a man on a beach. We enjoyed talking, got together a few more times, and went for a drive listening to music and then not even talking a lot-- just being together. When it was time for me to leave, he asked if we could possibly make this a thing? Could we be in a relationship?

I said no.

Not going down that road again, no more long-distant relationships, I decided.

Then, I left and received a very long message explaining that he couldn't forget about me and our conversations and that he wanted to just see if we could make something of what took no effort at all to begin.

A few months later, when he experienced something really traumatic in his life, he called me immediately, and said, "Babe, I need you right now."

Me, afraid of long-distant relationships, said, "I am so sorry that just happened, but I need to take some space from you. This is getting more serious and I said I can't be in a relationship right now." (Also because the guy before him broke up with me and married someone else the following year it's fine I'm fine everything's fine.)

I was silent for three days, while he just waited. I thought about a lot and believed I was doing the right thing by not involving another person- especially not long distant. Then, on the third day (why is the rising always on the third day?) I called him and said that I've decided to step out of my old stories that I shouldn't entertain a new relationship and that long distant ones don't work and all my other excuses I'd made because I was afraid.

That's the thing I'd like to study here under a magnifying glass - is the fear of trusting someone new and stepping out of our old stories. To entertain this new relationship, I had to let go of a lot of fears. Fears of being hurt, again. Fears of it not working out, again. Fear of it ending at eight months, again.

After one year (we had an eight-month destruction point of explosion, don't worry) I've allowed myself to discover a new side of long-distance relationships that's very special. You get to know someone very well emotionally first, before all the other stuff that happens which is of course exciting and fun and also can cause great emotional turmoil.

Since I think people scan blog posts for the bullet points (guilty) I'm going to break down one year of long-distant relationship advice.

Disclaimer #1: I should not be giving advice, so please just know your sources and think of that the next time someone in their early thirties tells you that your relationship won't last beyond eight months.

Disclaimer to #1: I absolutely am the perfect person to be giving advice because I've been involved in several long-distant relationships and that is the best way we learn- by actually doing the thing that we're talking about.

Okay, here we go, my five things:

  1. Your relationship has a better chance at long distant survival if you're both independent people who have your own goals, dreams, visions, and desires for your lives separately. If you are a person just dying to get married and pop out some babies before you have to make the decision to freeze your eggs or not, long-distance might not be the best option for you.

  2. Communication really is key. Assume your partner actually doesn't know what you're thinking and know to ask what you're thinking and just tell them what you're thinking (women, this one is for you specifically).

  3. Practice deep breathing and download the App Insight Timer. Because there will come a time where you haven't heard from him or her for like hours and your mind will start wandering and you'll begin stalking their social media and searching for anything to confirm your worst fears.

  4. Sometimes, trust gets broken. Now, like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you flip to a whole new chapter. When trust is broken, it can actually (though it sucks and nobody should have to feel that pain ever) can be a really positive thing. If you were in the relationship and kind of not wanting to be-- boom! You have your "out." IF however, you really do love this person and what they did was wrong and you can find it within your heart to forgive them (and/or yourself), you get to have really, really raw, deep, and honest conversations about why it happened, what you both desire, and discuss how to move forward.

  5. Focus on yourself, and know that you cannot control anybody else. Your significant other is going to make the choices they're going to make, whether they're good ones for your relationship or not. Trying to control the other person aka why didn't you text me when you left your friend's house? I don't believe you're at work, send me a photo, etc., will not create the trust you desire. It is better to assume the best in people, give them space, and allow them to make their own choices-- then you decide your own.

Long-distant relationships, just like all relationships, go through trials. There are beautiful moments and honestly traveling back and forth to visit each other is really exciting, and it gets better every time we make the time to see each other. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, and it is true. The more time we spend apart makes the time we spend together even better.

Choosing to be in a long-distant relationship will reveal how you actually feel about yourself. It will show you what you need to work on whether it be insecurities, applying past situations to the current one, exaggeration, truth-telling, communication, fears... so many things.

And just like Adele, go easy on your partner. They are just like you trying to figure out this whole life thing and they won't always be perfect and neither will you. Being able to forgive yourself and forgive the other person is imperative to move forward, if that's, of course, what you both want. I used to really believe in romantic phrases like "if it's meant to be it will be."

Ah, no. If you just "let it be" it ain't gonna be real quick. People know in their hearts if they want something to "be" or not. The best thing to do with your partner is to tell them the truth.

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