Thursday, May 26, 2011

Long-distance relationships: Out of sight out of mind?

Long-distance relationships: Out of sight out of mind?

Some say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, but those kind of facts are for Fox News. People, including myself, all over the world since the beginning of time have been infatuated with the long-distance relationship. Wanting something that we can't have is almost human nature. However there is a big emphasis on "almost"  though, since most people typically have found love right around the corner. However, with the invention of the Internet things have gotten a little bit easier  – or harder depending on how you look at it.
Remember the good old days of 1999 surfing AOL chat rooms about Pokemon and sharing screen names on AIM? No? Well, I do and thinking about it brings back rather embarrassing and fond memories of talking to girls, without having to actually physically interact with them. To someone as young as me there was nothing more exciting then anticipating that next instant message. Oh, the anxiety! Did I say something stupid? Was my Limp Bizkit joke funny? Was that the right emoticon? So many complicated unnecessary emotions going on for a 13-year-old boy.
What did I know about flirting other than girls like it when you compliment them. I can attempt funny jokes but that's about it. I do remember those first few e-crushes though. I remember my friends and I exchanged screen names with a group of girls from Ohio. We would talk to one another for hours online and eventually this even led to phone conversations. Somehow, we broke down the Internet barrier and reached out to real people. Plus they were girls! Real-life girls were paying attention to a bunch of video game playing nerds thousands of miles away.
At first, it was all in good fun. We'd make stupid jokes over the phone or play music to one other, but then it got serious. Or at least as serious as an Internet relationship can get. People started to actually "date" one another. Don't ask me how this works, because to this day the concept still confuses me, but it did happen. Even I was struck with e-Cupid's arrow.
This vicious cycle did not stop here though. Even after we stopped talking I found yet another girl online, but this time it seemed like something tangible. We talked on the phone constantly. So many long, late-night phone conversations with that girl. Despite the fact that she lived in Maryland and was a bit younger than me, something connected.
We made so many plans together and even sent each other birthday gifts and cards. For someone who had never had a girlfriend before I felt like I was actually dating someone. The only problem was the distance, but for the most part I think we made it work. Now that I look back on it I probably didn't love her in the real sense of the meaning, but I definitely felt something. The whole relationship boiled down to the idea of a possible visit over winter break my senior year of high school. We talked about it constantly and it was almost coming to fruition when everything just kind of stopped. Winter break ended and by January I started dating my first real-life girlfriend.
I now have a girlfriend that lives about 200 miles away, which is a big improvement from thousands of miles. Regardless of the distance I still find the same kind of pitfalls that might plague any relationship. The constant worrying about who they are with, what they are doing and what are they saying about you. Plus, you miss them! Throughout it all though, I think the most important thing to remember is to keep in touch. Phone conversations can be very impersonal, but you have to keep that constant communication going. Like all relationships, communication is key and in long-distance ones it is even more essential. I think that's what these early "relationships" taught me. You have to talk to one another and connect on that deeper level. It makes for less awkward moments when you do get to see each other and makes for a more meaningful relationship all around. It helps build trust when you are more open and I think that's what keeps these relationships a float on a sea of phone wires and endless Internet cables.

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