I’m one of those girls who brings up her boyfriend in conversation a lot. I’m not proud of it, but it just happens. Usually it’s because someone says they like something that he likes, so I always have the habit of being like “Hey my boyfriend loves so-and-so as well, isn’t that great!” If you’re a dude, I do it to (not-so) subtly drop the hint that I am 100% off the market. If I’m being honest, I also bring up the boyfriend to brag a little, because come on, I managed to get a kid to like me, so I’m going to brag about that all I want. Also, because I like him. I want to talk about him. I like Nic Cage and Wawa and I talk about those a lot, too. So sue me.
Generally, after I drop the boyfriend into conversation with as much grace as Jennifer Lawrence has when walking the red carpet (in other words, not much), I get polite inquiries about how long we’ve been together, how long distance is going, and—my personal favorite—the declaration of “I bet you can’t wait to see him when you get back in June!” My response is never a positive and glowing affirmation that I will see him the minute I arrive back in the states from Australia, where I’m currently studying. Instead, it’s something along the lines of “Oh, he’s not from America. He actually lives in the UK.”
And then this is where I lose the interest of whoever I’m talking to. Nobody wants to hear the girl whose boyfriend is currently 10,262 miles away ramble on and on about the trials and tribulations of a relationship built around Facetime dates.
Before I even left for my semester abroad in London last term, people were cracking jokes about me meeting a charming Brit who would sweep me off my feet. My dad made it very clear before I left that I wasn’t allowed to elope and that I should save myself for my one true love, Prince Harry. When all my friends would mess around, telling me that I absolutely had to have a European affair that Mary Kate and Ashley would be proud of, I laughed it off. I didn’t intend to have a whirlwind romance straight out of a rom-com, but instead of returning home with a stack of postcards, I came back with a changed relationship status.
So what can you possibly say when the notorious long-distance relationship is brought up in conversation? “Wow, that’s a huge time difference!” is a pretty popular response, albeit one that pisses me off. Thank you, kind stranger, for pointing out something that was not obvious to me in the slightest. Never once in the last three months have I noticed those things called time zones. Clearly, I know that 10 hours is a pretty huge difference. You don’t think I realize that my nights are his mornings and vice versa? It’s kind of hard to miss the fact that I’m saying goodnight when he’s saying good morning, but thank you once again for bringing that to my attention. And yes, before you ask, it is hard to manage, but we’ve figured it out. And also, when I tell you what time it is in London without missing a beat, I’d prefer if you didn’t look at me like I’m some type of lunatic who is perpetually stuck in Greenwich Mean Time.
Another go-to (but much less tasteful) reply is something along the lines of “Well, not to be a Debbie Downer, but long distance relationships are tough…” Then, the person goes on to say about how, back when they were 14, they dated this kid from three towns over, and it was the hardest relationship of their life, or some other similar sob story. Now, as inspiring and insightful as those tales are, I really just don’t care. I don’t give a crap if you couldn’t make a 15-minute drive work when you were a teenager, or if you’ve had terrible experiences with LDRs in the past. I’m not you. You couldn’t make it work but I’m trying my best to make the most of the situation. I don’t need constant reminders that it’s going to take hard work and dedication because I already know these things. You’re absolutely correct when you tell me that it’s difficult. There are days when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and pretend that the person I want to be with most isn’t across lands and oceans. But despite these tough days and the tremendous odds that stand in our way, we’ve still managed to come out on top thus far. Thanks for the advice, but it’s really not needed here.
(Sidenote: if you straight up tell me that there’s a chance my boyfriend and I might not work out at all, then there’s a chance I might punch you in the face. Do not tell me that my relationship is doomed. That’s rude. Come back and talk to me after you get some manners and class).
Another thing that’s not classy? Telling me that my relationship doesn’t count simply because the person I’m dating isn’t in the same place as me. “Why would you come to Australia with a boyfriend?!” is a phrase I’ve heard way too many times. Here’s an idea for you- maybe it’s because I actually like him? It’s shocking, I know, but just because he’s not here doesn’t mean I get a free pass to mess around. That’s called cheating and that is not ok on any level or in any situation. So no, I will not cite distance as an excuse to make bad decisions, but nice try. I actually love my boyfriend, and even if he didn’t exist and I was as free as a bird, I wouldn’t make out with you, anyway.
On that note, “Aren’t you afraid something is going to happen while you’re apart?” is another big question that springs up. My answer? No, I’m not. As surprising as this may seem, I trust the guy. The secret ingredient to any good, well-balanced relationship is trust, whether you live together in the same apartment or are thousands of miles apart. So no, I’m not there to keep a watchful eye over him and make sure he behaves or whatever, but I don’t have to. When girls were hitting on him at the pub or when creepy guys sent me unrelenting Facebook messages, we told each other and then we laughed about it, because we know that it doesn’t mean anything. Since, y’know, we trust each other. That’s kind of important.
Also, when I decide to forgo a night out just to Facetime, I would really appreciate it if you didn’t tell me how much of a loser I am or how I’m wasting my precious time in Brisbane stuck in my room, talking to a boy thats not even in the same hemisphere as me. When there are only so many hours of our respective days that overlap, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m going to ditch you once a week to talk to him. I’m not even sorry about it. I’d pick accidently falling asleep while Facetiming over having to put on real clothes and go out clubbing anyday.
And last but not least, I don’t want your pity. I don’t bring up my boyfriend in conversation so you can feel bad for me. I talk about him because it makes me feel closer to him, it makes me miss him less, and it serves as my way of including him into my life here that he can’t physically be a part of. I know that I’m happy, but it still hurts when you disguise thinly-veiled disapproval as advice. Not even all the sass in the world can cover up the sting of criticism. I want you to understand that despite their bad rep, long distance relationships aren’t always guaranteed to end in failure. Even if you don’t agree with it, or if you could never handle one yourself, that doesn’t mean you have to look down on those who do decide to put in the effort and try it out. Instead of criticizing those who are strong and courageous enough to take on the task, just be happy for them. Let us Facetime and drunk text and be cute in peace. That’s why I constantly talk about my boyfriend. It’s so you can realize that regardless of the space between us, we’re doing just fine. Maybe if I talk about our relationship enough, you can wrap your head around the idea that long distance doesn’t automatically come equipped with a transatlantic breakup. I’m in the weirdest, happiest and healthiest relationship I’ve ever been in and not even 10,262 miles can stand in the way of that.