At the end of March, my partner-in-crime/better half/biggest fan/etc was offered an amazing opportunity to move to California for the summer doing work that puts his talents to good use. If you know me in real life or follow my personal social media presence, this isn’t news. I haven’t been able to shut up about it for the past few months. While he took his time making this decision, for me it was a no-brainer—take the damn job! We talked it through and, although it wouldn’t be the fun summer together we wanted, we were both confident it was something we were equipped to handle. My love for this person is bigger than a four-month period and while I miss him like crazy, I’ve instead decided to focus on the fact that the current situation is fleeting while my feelings for Devlin certainly are not. He left at the end of April and these past almost-three+ months have proven to be a learning experience, to say the least.
Let me say this: this post isn’t about survival. The working title for this post was ‘how to survive a long-distance relationship’ but as I wrote it I realized that that puts a negative spin on a situation that already can feel negative. Instead, this post is about focusing the energy felt from these feelings of sadness and loneliness and turning it into something productive. It has been incredibly easy for me to feel sorry for myself this summer and only see the bad. Sometimes, I need to feel sorry for myself but when I look at this summer as something I need to survive, it just sets me up to feel like there will be no good moments, just bearable ones. This also isn’t me trying to give anyone ‘tips’, but rather my own personal journey in navigating a long-distance relationship. I am sorry to say this isn’t going to be an easy-to-read listicle. I tried writing that post because it’s easy but it wasn’t genuine (and when talking about feelings, something I’m already really really bad at, I think it’s important to be genuine). This post is intended to help navigate the very real and very valid feelings associated with not having your partner with you by your physical side (important to note: if they are truly your partner, you don’t need to be in the same city/state/coast/country to be there for one another).
There are people in this world to whom the reality of a long-distance relationship is much more permanent who could probably provide a great deal of wisdom on this topic but I already feel like I’ve learned so much about myself throughout these three months. For the first time in my life, I am living alone and am learning how to live with myself. It’s easy to binge watch every Netflix Original series on a day off but easy isn’t productive. I let the dishes pile up in the sink without having someone to hold me accountable and I’ve learned that dealing with a two-week old sink of dishes is way way way worse than just putting the damn dishes in the dish washer at the end of the day. I also very quickly was hit with the reality that the person I lean on for emotional support more than anyone else wasn’t physically there with me but that he could still be there emotionally. Within the first week of Devlin being gone, our kitten Franklin got very sick and had to be put down. Franklin was my first pet and we had adopted him just seven months prior. This wasn’t something we were expecting to have to deal with so soon, and certainly not something we expected to go through apart. I learned to lean on my friends and other people in my life who care about me for that physical support. I also learned to work through some of these feelings on my own.
I’ve learned that It’s okay to feel sad/lonely/lost/etc. Like, it sucks. Yes, it’s important to see the good in every situation, it’s totally okay for me to take a minute and say “hey, I’m lonely right now, and this fucking sucks”. I don’t ever want this to consume me, but it’s also a feeling I’ve found is very important to acknowledge.
I’ve also learned that it’s also okay to feel happy and have fun. Your world does not stop because your partner is not next to you. At first, I would feel this sense of guilt for going out with friends and having fun. I started to process that guilt and I realized I was feeling that way not because I actually felt guilty about enjoying myself but because I wanted to share it with Devlin. I wanted him to be there when I was doing something fun to enjoy it with me. I would see something that would’ve made him laugh (or would imagine some commentary he would have on a situation that would would crack me up) and I’d get upset he wasn’t there to experience it. It was incredibly important for me to remember that my life is multifaceted and enjoying my summer is 100% allowed!
It helps to have something to look forward to. I took a trip to the Bay Area this summer and for while I was mentally counting down to that. Then, Devlin came out to visit. I also always look forward to our FaceTime calls at the end of the day, or a phone call while I waited for the bus. And of course, I look forward to non-bae related things. This entire summer I’ve looking forward to all of the awesome 30th & Weldon stuff going on this summer—the launch of our store, the amazing events we attended, our feature in the Baltimore Sun, and the two events we’re hosting (BMORE Babes & Sunday at the Mill).
The ability to take time to myself at home is not something I’ve gotten to do before. and like I said before, at first it was this incredibly lazy “I’m going to watch TV until 1am and not do the dishes and have laundry piles all over the house and order takeout 4 times a week” but now it’s turned into something much more positive. Although not spotless, I have started to take the time to clean and organize the apartment. I have taken the time to make cold brew and do some real cooking and meal prep. I’ve been reading (what? me?! reading??) and have been journaling. I’ve spent a ton of time on doing a lot of back-end work for the business too (which is important, because *maybe* one day this can be a full-time thing so the more time I put in the better).
While it hasn’t been an easy summer, it has definitely been an important one. I’ve learned a lot and will continue to learn every day. I’m so grateful that this has an end date and truly celebrate folks who deal with distance in a relationship on a much more permanent basis. It has been a summer of ups and downs but it has also let me appreciate my relationship so much more. I’ve spent more time on the phone than I ever have (I’m looking at you, nights of 5 hour phone calls).
For any readers who are currently going through this or have in the past, how do you navigate a long-distance relationship? I’ve got about a month left and am still learning—I’d love to hear from you.