Long distance relationships never work
No one wants to sit around waiting for texts and glitchy video calls
You can meet in the summer, or date all through sixth form. But when the reality of september hits, it’s being thrown into the big university soup of new people that tests even the most fairytale of romances. I got myself into one of these webs, one of anxiety and arguments.
It was Valentine’s Day 2016, a trip to see a person you could for simplicity call my ‘boyfriend’. It was obvious that after six months of distanced relationship purgatory, I was reluctant to make a five hour trip based on a few kind words. I was naive, and that is possibly the biggest factor in these kind of things.
We had walked on past the flat sea of pebbles across Swansea bay, over to an empty park and under a tree. From an outside perspective, things like that look like a cute afternoon that would end up on your Instagram feed. In reality I wanted to be anywhere but next to him and what he wanted t0 say to me. It started as it always does, as a dreaded ‘how are we?’ talk, you know the one, which closes the throat and causes the awful anticipation. He told me he had felt no desire to talk to me, that all feeling had gone.
In some ways it’s true. When you’re hundreds of miles away from them, emotions don’t seem like such an importance. It can become simply two people both reassuring the other, and that’s a pretty bleak cycle. I had gone to Wales only to be told that I was on a ‘trial period’ as he put it. Listen, never let anyone refer to you as if you were the month free of Netflix, you’re a human. The tendency to see people as a commodity seems to crop up more and more when you only see them every month or so.
Even in healthy relationships, the lack of physical contact can lead to it being more about catching up on sex above anything else. I used to feel like the situation I had gotten in was unusual, but the more drunken rambling chats I’ve had with people, the more common I’ve realised it is.
The idea of crying over heartbreak didn’t seem to be what I was experiencing the next morning, it was the feeling of being denied basic respect. There was a fabulous middle aged woman on the train who gave me a few confused looks and a colourful floral tissue, so at least it was quite a classy cry.
I had a revelation after that. There was nothing anymore than really bothered me too much. I would never let anyone make me feel like that again. The most ironic thing I’ve found is that people see me more and more as a heartless ratbag, just because I’m not the type of sacrificing and worrisome young woman that seems to exist in everyone’s expectations.
I dyed my hair purple, wrote some surreal poems, and had some great snaps taken. A year ago, I didn’t take pictures of myself, I worried about trying to be normal. That’s at the back of my mind now, the insecurity locked away.
There is no such thing as being too busy to contact someone for days, it’s not 1938 with a letter lost in the post. In an age of ‘last seen online’ data and social media suffocation, long distance can lead to some unhealthy ways of thinking. No matter how comforting it can feel to have someone in the good moments, if it leaves you with more sadness than happiness, so is it worth it?
In these situations, one is always more hurt than the other, and needs to recover as if rebuilding strength after a slow illness of the mind. Sometimes you can be so blind to something unhealthy right in front of you, like you’re under a layer of glass. But so many others can see through it. Listen to the drunk woman in the toilets, she always tells the truth about love and romance.
I sound very cynical, but at 19 the fairytale really doesn’t have to be anywhere near the top things to find at university. At the moment for me it’s good friends, the cheapest pubs and the best meal deal combination, and it’s working pretty well.