In the beginning of dating Matt, I liked to refer to our situation as “distant dating.” We weren’t actually very far at all- a mere 37.5 miles separated my college town from his downtown home, but our lives felt separated. I had my own little world and he had his. Our worlds merged and joined for evenings and weekends, but predominantly stood on their own. We were close enough, but still distant. This immediately helped to create healthy independence for both of us in our relationship.
Then, after only a few months of dating, our simple distant dating model was shaken up. Matt decided to accept a role within his company that moved him to South Carolina for six months. My immediate reaction was to search the distance between the two cities. Four hundred and fifty-five point eight miles. That number continued to mock me with it’s largeness as I attempted to face this change.
At first, I felt as though he was choosing South Carolina over me. Hundreds of insecurities flooded my mind- thoughts of time wasted and emotional access granted. I felt like he was doing this to me. On the eve of his official placement, there was a large party with a number of his work friends. Left and right people seemed to be congratulating him and going on about how great it was. Great was the opposite of how I felt about the whole situation.
Eventually my sadness and insecurity became far too apparent for me to hide from Matt. “I’m doing this because I truly believe this is what’s best for me, which will make me be the best for us,” he told me. All I heard was “I’m doing this for me.” Over the next few months leading up to his move, we had a lot of conversations similar to this. He normally said something similar and I continued to only hear part of it.
Towards the end of summer, when our time near one another was coming to a close, he invited me to go on his apartment-hunting trip to Greenville, South Carolina. At first, I was reluctant to go. I figured merely crossing the state line would make me burst into tears, but I convinced myself it was a mini vacation and went along. The drive felt long. Four hundred and fifty-five point eight miles, to be exact. I fell in love with Greenville more than I expected my heart would allow. The entire town was everything that he loved and everything he claimed he needed. It was a change and a challenge, but that’s what he wanted.
At some point on the drive home, I started sobbing. The reality that he would actually be four hundred and fifty-five point eight miles from me had truly set in. “Coley, I promise you I’m doing this because I believe we can handle it and I believe I will be better because of this experience,” he said over and over. I was trapped in this place where I couldn’t imagine how that many miles between two people in love could ever be better than being together. Once my sobbing died down, we switched seats and I began to drive. He got out my journal and we began to compile a list of all of the ways the distance would help us to grow.
We wrote about the ways we would grow emotionally and spiritually by being miles from each other. With each bullet point my faith and strength seemed to be restored ever so slightly.
Looking back, I would never choose to be four hundred and fifty-five point eight miles from the man that I love, but I know that it’s a season we must weather. Through long-distance love, we have learned the meaning of true communication and the beauty of intentional time together. Long distance gives you the time and space to truly cherish someone, a sentiment we are all too quick to forget.