Everyone’s in one.
Chilling with four of my close girlfriends in med school last Saturday night, we realized that four of us were in long distance relationships and one of us was engaged (to someone else in our school). Each of us is having such a different experience. The one who is engaged did four years of long distance during college, and considered ending the relationship if she and her fiance did not end up at the same med school. One of us finds it not so hard, because she and he are old pros and have been doing long distance since high school. One of us who is new to this finds it challenging, because her boyfriend currently works in China, and time zones don’t make it any easier. That leaves two of us, who see our boyfriends every 5 weeks or so, mine a 2 hour plane ride away and her’s on the other coast.
For C and I, long distance has been, for the most part, kind of awesome: individual productivity is up, feelings of competitiveness are way down, and general time for socializing is way up. We both feel more independent, and less resentful that having a significant other means compromises when deciding what we want to do at any given time. We were totally joined at the hip during undergrad so long distance was a very new thing. I spent undergrad studying on C’s bed with my laptop, and now I feel like a real person who studies at a real desk.
Nowadays, instead of studying together in a dorm room the size of a generous closet, and garnishing almost every meal together with banalities (“So…how were the last four hours of the day for you?”), our interactions consist of: A. Google hangouts wherein we talk shop (i.e. medicine/medical school/classes), or study quietly while C plays some obscure playlist of remixes, or show each other what we are wearing for a specific event; B. Facetime at around noon when we wake up on weekends to rehash the bars/parties/clubs/hangouts of the night before; and C. texts very late at night whereby the )’s on a =))) is directly correlated with BAC.
Most weeks we get between 2-6 hours of time with each other in some form or another and I am pleasantly surprised to find this is arguably enough. There are probably many specific reasons why it is working out better than expected for C and me. I think the major one is that, all in all, we are a very no-nonsense, low-maintenance couple: we almost never fight when we’re together and being apart makes nitpicking impossible; C is never jealous; and we never did plan many “date-like” events even while we were together – just anniversaries and birthdays (we actually get more now because every time the other visits, the whole weekend turns into a series of dates).
Naturally, it’s not all perfect. At the beginning, I would get frustrated that the time difference meant that he would always be out a little later than I am on weekends – meaning that I wouldn’t get to vchat him before bed. Sometimes, I still get the feeling that I initiate more conversations/videochats/facetimes, but really that shouldn’t be surprising since I hoard 80% of the airtime in our everyday conversations. Now that it’s been a few weeks and people are starting to hook up at our schools, (Halloween) parties can feel a little lonely.
But things are looking so much better than I could have predicted, and not much like the catastrophe I had imagined with our med school acceptances played out this past spring . We have our vacation/visiting plane tickets booked into Feb 2013 – our four year anniversary.