Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship? I have. Actually, I am currently in one and it is not the first time. LDRs are less than ideal situations, they happen because for some unfortunate reason you can not be together. They could be hard to keep intact, they could be traumatic and painful; yet they could be very positive too, because each second together will be a precious treasure... it takes something to make it work, it takes real love, otherwise it will not happen. I will share here some of my experiences and what I have learnt from them.
The first time I was in a LDR, I was 22 years old. I was inexperienced and I did not realized what was going on until it was already too late. This was the year 2005 before facebook was popular; at that time I had an account on a similar site called hi5. I was already living in Sweden and I was using the site—unsuccessfully—to get some dates. Once I received a little message from an apparently cute girl in America. We started emailing each other, and day by day the letters started growing longer and longer. Everyday we messaged each other and she told me every single little thing she did during her day. Her brother was on drugs, which caused her great distress. We started chatting and talking over the internet. She even played the clarinet for me online. After a while, she literally fell in love with me, even though we never met personally. Eventually she confessed her love and to certain extent I corresponded her. However, she became overwhelming, she would write me books day after day until it became impossible for me to keep up. She was so in love that I got scared and could not correspond her feelings any longer, or was she? Later I found out that her pictures on the website were a century old and she was twice my weight. One day I said to her that the relationship should not go on, that it should stop right there, that there was not future in that. Six months later she was getting married to a guy from the navy. Creepy.
The second time, I met her at a student nightclub. She was an exchange student in Uppsala and she was staying just for a semester. She was tall and beautiful, at least three inches taller than me, of fair skin, seductive black hair, full lips, with a gentleness and delicacy that melted even hearts of stone, she loved Neruda and Klimt. When I first met her it was mid October 2006 and she was leaving back to Italy in February of the next year, never to return. We kind of knew from the very beginning that things had to end when she left. On one hand I was just starting with my PhD and had more than three years to go; on the other, she had to be back to finish her career and graduate. I was very attracted to her so I did not care about what would happen after she left. I decided that I was going to enjoy my time with her, that I was not going to hold back any little bit of my body and soul. I loved her passionately until she had to go. By the moment she left, I knew she was coming back two months later to celebrate Valborg at the end of April. During those two months apart we talked almost everyday on the phone, we spoke for a couple of hours, we also wrote and chatted all the time. Since we kept in touch and everything seemed to have been going well despite the distance, I thought things were going to be the same when she came back, however I found her a bit cold. When I tried to kiss her, she dodged. I was so infatuated that I paid really no attention to it, I just took it as a challenge, and at the third try she accepted my loving lips. The fire reignited. Then we had to say goodbye again, this time for good. After she left, at the beginning we kept in touch as we used to, talking everyday, chatting, emailing... I tried to plan a trip to visit her in Rome but because of one or another inconvenience it was not possible. Little by little the relationship started to fade away, the calls became less regular, the letters more spaced in between, until we stopped talking at all. That's how it ended. When she left Uppsala it was painful, the weeks before she left we would cry on each others arms knowing that the end was near and unavoidable. I and she went on with our lives separately... and I swore that never again I would be in a LDR, yet I broke my promise four years later.
The third and last time it happened in Paris. It was my last year in the city and it was the summer of 2011, beginning of August. I met her at a small bar, it was about two in the morning and we were both extremely drunk. This time she was Finnish and was visiting Paris on holidays, she had come for about three weeks to visit her cousin. The chemical reaction when our hearts met was immediate, catalyzed by that energy from hot and sunny summer days and nights. She was brunette, about my size tall, with gorgeous blue eyes decorated by a subtle gold ring around the pupil, and lips that were made only to be kissed and adored, she had that femininity that is almost irresistible and an aura of sweetness and tranquility. I do not know how much time passed between we said hello for the first time and our first kiss, but it had to be pretty quick. We spend that night together until the sun shone hot in the sky. I left with her phone number and texted her expecting that she would never answer me back. Against my expectations, she did not only answered but was excited to hear from me and looking forward to meet again. Unfortunately, in the following days she was traveling to the French Riviera, so we met about a week later just before I went back to Colombia for holidays. By the time I was back in France she was already back to the Finnish North Pole, where she was born. I thought that was the end of it, yet when I was in Colombia I received another text message from her and from then on we kept in touch. I noticed something in her that I have never found in other women (what exactly, that I will keep to myself), and that encouraged me to keep in touch. I came back to France and we started chatting and skyping, things were getting intimate and our feelings for each other were shared openly. I thought, if this relationship is to go on we have to meet again soon. So I proposed that we should meet in Helsinki, I would go from Paris and she would come down from the North Pole, so it was fair. I said to myself that if she said no I would stop it right there, and if she said yes and we met, then it was worth to commit to the relationship. To my surprise we met in Finland and the summer fire was still very alive in our hearts, although the autumn had chased away the sun and the warmth of the days. When I was back to Paris the oxycontin and all other love related hormones had worked out their magic in my brain and left me irremediably in love with her. I decided that she was worth the effort, that I was going to make the relationship work, and that I was going to give her everything I am. Ever since then we have kept in touch almost every single day. She came back to Paris two more times, then she went to Perú for an exchange program. I joined her there for almost a month and now we wait for the day we will be together again, and so this story has not yet seen the end. Next August will be a year since we first met.
After all these experiences I have concluded that a long-distance relationship will work only if certain conditions are met:
1. You should know that one day you will be together and the distance will be no more. Even if it is in two years time the relationship will be strong if you promise and plan that one day you will be together and never apart again (at least, until you break up of natural causes unrelated to the number of miles in between). If this condition is overlooked the relationship will end sooner than you expect.
2. You must keep in touch as often as possible and trust each other. This is necessary to keep the fire burning, to know that you are together making it work, to reassure that the feelings for each other are still strong. If this does not happen the relationship will fade away until it is no more. Little by little you will become a stranger to each other, little by little things will get colder. As the calls, the text messages, the chat or skype sessions become more spaced in between, someone else starts to fill in that space. In order to keep in touch, you need a strong will to make things work.
3. Finally, you must do your best to see each other as often as possible and when you are together you should not hold back anything, you should give everything you have got, and live every second as if it was the last one. Otherwise, if you never see each other and the relationship is entirely over the internet, then it will become a virtual relationship and that is very creepy.