Think Piece: Our Long Distance and Eight+ Years of Work

(This was the first photo we ever took together in 2011)

This is going to be an off week blog-wise while I’m up visiting AJ at his new job in San Francisco! 

AJ got a summer internship with a tech company that eventually hired him after he graduated, so he had been at this company for close to three years. But recently, after not feeling very fulfilled, he began to seek out new opportunities. He fell into a new position at a new company that was basically written for him. He’s going to really excel in it.

This new company is still in downtown Austin (like his old one), but they’re based in San Francisco. So for two whole weeks he’s in the bay area for orientation.

I’m up here now with him, for a little vacay and to see some family I have up here! But truthfully, because I can thanks to my job and I miss him so bad! 

Before I jump into this, I want to say a bit of a disclaimer.

These are just my thoughts on my own experience. I’m not trying to say anything about anyone else’s relationship. But I hope if you have or if you are going through something similar it might sound familiar, and maybe it can help. 

So this post is really the first little update + thought piece blog ever. But for those of you following along…hi! Okay here we go.

If you remember our story, we spent four years apart during college. We were very lucky that we were only 2.5 hours away, so we saw each other very frequently

I’m just realizing after spending a week away from him and on my own again, just some things about what our relationship used to be like.

I definitely was not able to admit a lot of this before. Or maybe i just didn’t realize any of it! That’s totally possible.

But long distance, even in the form where you see each other frequently, was hard to view as a real relationship. There is a lot of insecurity that comes with it. Insecurity that kind of gets engrained in you, and you learn to live with.

I’m grateful that we had a strong year and a half together before jumping into long distance, but looking back that was nothing. It was in high school. I mean, obviously it was meant to be because look at us now but did we even really know that? How could we have?

And then we just flew into long distance with no plan. Just unsaid expectations and lots of pressure on each other.

And my junior year, I was like wait a second. We’ve been long distance more than we’ve been an in person relationship.

And that’s a really awful thing to realize. 

Because, for me, it was almost like our dynamics existed solely via text. That’s how we primarily communicated with each other.

And then on the weekends when we’d see each other, we would have a million plans with our friends and not really have time to do anything meaningful that would grow our relationship. We were just existing and try to be as normal of a couple as we could.

And when you only get to see your significant other for 72 hours, you’re not going to bring up something that might cause a fight. So things go unsaid for a really long time, until they compound and we have actual issues and we’re far apart so often that it’s impossible to talk realistically and unpack anything. You can’t solve anything when you’re physically apart like that.

So when I realized that’s what the majority of our history had been, it was like a punch to the gut. Because you have to ask if it’s always going to be like this? Did we have a plan?

What if our main connection is just the idea of each other that exists over the phone? 

I know for me, I was so eager to try to find normalcy and get back the fairytale that was our high school years, so I graduated early and tried really quickly to become an “adult” and move out and get a move on. 

Luckily AJ also graduated early, so we could both jump into adulthood and normal, in person relationship status.

But of course it didn’t magically fix everything.

Lack of real, in person communication for so many years really created quite a few problems in our relationship. Even though we had our ~domestic bliss~ that I was so looking forward to all throughout college, we were left with some real life issues.

And then there was getting engaged. I felt so insecure in our relationship being real that I wanted so badly for AJ to propose so I could have something concrete to hold onto. 

But honestly, I’m so relieved AJ didn’t give into that pressure. It wouldn’t have been right to get engaged right after moving in together. Even if we were adult-ing and committing to each other. 

He had the patience to wait until we could establish ourselves and redefine ourselves in these new in person terms. That was so crucial and I didn’t realize it until I was on the other side of it.

This probably doesn’t make sense to be dissecting all of this now…but after being away from AJ for just a short week it hit me. All of this like came to my attention. After getting reacquainted with these same lonely days and feeling lost. 

It hit me because it’s different this time.

And it’s not just the big ole empty house that’s our shared space. Although that was very very different for sure.

It’s the the long term foundation we have. The one we built on top of high school puppy love, and turbulence in college. That foundation is imperative. And it’s the one we’re going to build our marriage on too.

If you’re still with me, bless. I think it’s just so important to remember that relationships ebb and flow, and that patience is the best thing you can have when your goal is the long haul.

And it’s important to remember that happiness and a beautiful life is a mindset, not something you can achieve and hold onto.

By no means has our relationship ever really been perfect, at least for a prolonged amount of time. But I’m going to get cocky and say our partnership and the way we tackle all our problems and what life throws at us (at least now…definitely not back then) is close to perfect. That’s our perfection. I think that’s all I can really ask for. 

In case you haven’t already, you can go back in time all the way to our high school years here. What a fun exercise that I didn’t realize I’d cherish not even two year later!

If you’re in a long distance relationship, or maybe also experiencing turbulence of any kind, just know I feel you. You can always shoot me a DM if you want to talk about it. Because I know it sucks, and sometimes just venting to someone who understands can help a lot.



Click through to read about how I decided what to wear for our DC engagement session! Shot by: Paige Vaughn Photo

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