Some people think that distance makes the heart grow fonder. I am not one of those people.
When I was starting out my radio career I moved to Albury, a town on the boarder on NSW and Victoria. I was 24 when I moved there. Prior to that I had lived at home my whole life (massive mummy’s girl).
When I moved there, my boyfriend Sam and I had been together for about four years. We were solid, in for the long haul, totes in love.
I thought moving away from him to pursue my dream career would be challenging but also kinda romantic. We would get to see each other on weekends and we could keep connected via emails and phone calls. Our relationship was the least of my concerns when I packed up my bags and moved away.
I was only in Albury for a total of 14 months. Not that long; but to me it felt like a lifetime. I felt isolated and so lonely. I missed my family and Sam more than I could have imagined and this loneliness really made me retreat from everyone, even Sam.
Moving away from home and everything and everyone I knew turned me fiercely independent, which was good in some ways but really destructive in others. I spent the weekdays living a solo life. I formed a strict routine (which you often need to do when working such early mornings). I loved my job but I was homesick, I wanted to do radio but I also wanted to be back with Sam. In order to ‘survive’ the long distance with Sam, I pretty much shut down from him. Not that I wanted too or deliberately did it, but it was almost like a self protection mode. I missed him so much that the only way I could get through it was to close myself off from him.
I would hang out for the weekends to see him, but as soon as I did, I went into this automatic shut down. We had such limited time together that I felt an intense amount of pressure to connect and have fun and be wildly in love. This pressure made me retreat from him even more. Sometimes on a Sunday afternoon when I would head back to Albury it felt like I hadn’t even seen him.
During the week I would miss him like crazy and hang for the weekend again, when it would arrive it was the same cycle. I would go into a shutdown. No matter how hard I would try to open up and and connect I couldn’t.
It was an awful feeling, I felt mean, and alone and angry at myself.
It got to the point where we were like strangers. There was a lot of love there but we felt so distant from each other. Sam would reach out and and try to connect with me and I would race back into my hole. Looking back on it, I wonder why I made it so difficult, why couldn’t I have just been happy kicking off my career and really soak up the time I had with Sam. It wasn’t that easy though.
At that 14 month mark, I realised that if I stayed away any longer, our relationship would be over. So I resigned and headed home. I have never looked back. Two kids, a mortgage and 12 years years later – life is busy and crazy but we are doing it together.
A lot of people do long distance relationships and for them it may work. Most people I speak to about it find it really challenging though, it can be a really difficult thing to navigate.
Jess Mauboy and I had a really great chat about this On The Couch. Her and her boyfriend have been together a long time. He lives in Darwin and she lives in Sydney. They make it work, they are in love. But it comes with difficult challenges.
Check our Jess chatting about doing long distance below.
Julia Morris and Edwina Bartholomew have also been in long distance relationships. Watch below:
Have you had to do long distance and if so, how did you find it?