For many masters or PhD seeking students, the long distance relationship (LDR) is a very serious reality. The decision to stay with the one you love, or go and pursue your dreams is never an easy one. My boyfriend and I had numerous discussions about him staying in the city that we both loved, or journeying with me to the city (and I use the term loosely) of my dreams. He chose to stay. I chose to go.
Do I regret the decision? Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Honestly, it depends on how my day went, how much I messed up in lab and how cold it is outside. Life would be easier if I had someone to come home to, if I had someone to wrap their arms around me and tell me that everything would be okay. I think it goes without saying that my subzero toes would be happier as well. But there are those days when I stop and think about those women that gave up their hopes and their dreams for love. I think about how many women give up parts of who they are to allow their loved ones to attain their greatest desires. And then I think about the sacrifices that I would have made for my significant other and what kind of person that would’ve turned me into – bitter, angry and resentful.
I’ll admit, there are some days when I find myself a little upset that my boyfriend didn’t come with me, and I’ll even offer that when he came to a final decision about what he was going to do – there was some resentment. I spent a lot of time focusing on what I would have done for him, while not really considering that those hypothetical things had never been asked of me. Sometimes, we need to understand that it isn’t fair to expect someone to do something for you simply because you would have done it. It took me a few months to understand that. It took me even longer to be okay with it. I had to recognize that his decision to stay in NC was what was best for him and that he did not love me any less. It’s quite possible that he loves me even more now – especially since the left side of his bed is just as cold as the right side of mine. Difficult, arduous, extremely hard – none of it adequately describes what it means to go from waking up to the same persons face for 4 years to waking up to an empty side of the bed. It’s like trying to perform open heart surgery with no training….on yourself….and no anesthesia…blindfolded…uphill both ways in the snow. (Too far? Okay, I’ll stop.)
The long distance relationship is a tricky thing. You can’t spend as much time on the phone as you’d like because work/homework/studying/reading/everything almost always gets in the way. Skype is a GODSEND – most notably on those days when you just really need to see a loved one’s face AND hear their voice. My boyfriend and I spend a lot of time on Skype, playing video games and watching movies together and we talk to each other every morning while he’s on his way to work and I’m on my way to class. The talking may seem excessive – but I’ve been with this man for 5 years now, and we’ve woken up together, driven to work together and pretty much been in each other’s space like that for most of those years. It’d be weird to not talk to him.
So far I’ve seen him every month since I’ve been here, which makes the distance marginally less noticeable, but it’s still not enough for me. I miss my significantly better, other half and there aren’t enough doughnuts in the world to fill that particular hole. (Hehe – get it?)
The decision to embark upon a long distance relationship is hard as hell. It makes a hellish transition even more…hellish. Not only do you have to contend with making new friends, passing classes and performing well in lab, now you’ve got the added pressure of maintaining a relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If ever it seems too tough, or the pressure becomes too much to bear, remember one very important thing: an education will always be there; the person that you love with all of your being may not be. Ask yourself which one you’d rather have. Do not base your decision on what could happen, but base it on what is. If you decide that you want to maintain that relationship – then be prepared to work just as hard at that as you do in the lab or in your classes. Plan time with your significant other in the same way that you plan time for homework at the end of the day. Send him or her text messages throughout the day just to say hello. The cell phone is a wonderful little thing. Yes, it’s encroached on our lives like the Black Plague, but I can’t adequately explain how happy it makes me to look at my phone and see that my boyfriend has recently texted me. ESPECIALLY when I’m having a crappy day (which, let’s face it, is every day).
So far, that is what’s worked for us. I’d love to hear from you what some of your personal do’s (and don’ts) are.
Until next time!
(Look at me! Two posts in one 7-day period. Master of the clock, that’s me! Or is it mistress…)