Want to know how I really felt about being in a long distance relationship? Here’s a post straight from the graduate school vault. At least I know this blog will reach more people than I did in school (ha!). No, this is not becoming a relationship blog, but I do believe personal finance is all about relationships. Our relationship to money, others, ourselves and things. Take a look inside. Will be back to our regular scheduled program shortly.

It has been 312 days, 10 hours and 6 minutes since we departed.

That day was awful.

I had my whole life in two bags, we were late for the airport with the ever-present traffic that defines Los Angeles, and either from nerves or too many goodbye parties, I was also sick on the way there. Our goodbye was not romantic, not even memorable as I ran towards my departing flight. I told him I loved him as I left for my new life. I came to New York City, June 1st, 2010, 3 days before my master’s program started. Everyone thought I was either crazy or brilliant to leave a job, a nice boyfriend and what some call security behind. I couldn’t tell which one I was either. Ryan and I dated two years living in the same city and fell hard and fast for each other. It is a love that consumed me in all the right ways and made me experience friendship and love differently from previous relationships. I always thought I would never be one of those people who were in long distance relationships. I could never understand it. But, when I got my acceptance letter to NYU we had a long talk, the sort of talk that is uncomfortable because on the table is the prospect of losing the one you love, the prospect of throwing everything away just because of geography. After several days of going back and forth, we decided I would move to New York and we would stay together and make it work.

The first nights in New York City were the loneliest. I knew no one and I missed his smell and everything I had defined myself by in Los Angeles was suddenly amiss. The pangs of longing set in as I ached through my daily life; a new life, without him; a life where I defined myself, by myself. As alone and independent as I felt, he was everywhere. I saw mirages of him in the concrete, I heard music that reminded me of his bass playing hands, words triggering flashes of memory stuck between the nostalgic past and the hopeful future.  I missed waking up next to him, laying my head on the nook of his chest. These are mundane delights I long for. LONG for. Long distance. Longing. Longing and desire.  How much/so much longing and desire. He has stained my skin with his presence, the vapors of his love in the depths of my lungs.

After 3 weeks of adjusting to my whirlwind new life, he came to visit and everything was back to normal. Life was wonderful again and our physical memory reminded us of this. How many memories were stored in the nape of his neck, the follicles of his hair and the hands, which dexterously mastered my body and his bass. When he left, it was as if a band-aid had been ripped off my wounded, stained skin.

More recently, parting becomes increasingly difficult. Usually things get easier, but not leaving the one you love. It’s always a question in the back of your mind, “could this be the last time I see you?” The doubt fades as reality sets in, and tears pour out. Sometimes I think I can’t do it anymore —  I can’t live without him. Why did I decide to leave everything behind? My ambition? My dreams? For what? When people hear that I am in a long distance relationship, after a while people usually ask, “How is your boyfriend?” in a tone that reveals the tragedy of how most of these relationships end up. It’s as if they are checking up on me. I smile and say we are fine. We ARE fine! I am both in a relationship, while by all practical purposes, single. I am in a relationship that is held together by the glue of the past, and dreams of the future. The present is something we live and tell each other about through stories.

Boy am I glad that is over…and we survived! Have you ever taken a risk in your relationship? Did it cost you the relationship? Money? Both?


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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14 responses to “Long Distance Life: A glimpse into the everyday”

  1. Morgaine says:

    Very beautiful and well written post, Melanie! 🙂
    Morgaine recently posted…Weekly Spending: Jan 6 – 12My Profile

  2. My husband and I had to live apart for one year when he got a job unexpectedly and had to move to the neighboring state to jump on that opportunity. I couldn’t find a job in a hurry, and I had just embarked on a new project at work, so we agreed that we’d pay two rents and live about 3 hours away from each other for a year. My husband spent most of his free time playing video games and feeling lonely (when we weren’t talking on the phone) and all of my free time was absorbed with the work project and socializing with friends. We spent a lot of money on rent and gas, but that didn’t compare to how hard it was to miss each other. When one of us had to leave on Sunday to go back to the other apartment, it was always a huge wrench. That June we were finally able to move to his apartment and then began (in earnest) the job hunt for me… but it was wonderful to be a full-time couple again. Congrats on making it through a really tough time!
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    • deardebt says:

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Mintly. I’m glad you guys survived as well. It’s such a hard situation that takes a lot of dedication and care. It’s hard when one person feels left behind, while the other is staying active/social in the place the couple fell in love. I think what helped us is that we BOTH moved, so we both had new experiences to share.

  3. anna says:

    What a heart-wrenching, beautifully written post!! What did you feel revisiting that? When I had my LD relationship, I could relate to so much of what you wrote (you just described it more eloquently) – the days were okay since it was filled with classes and friends, but at night it was so lonely. I’m so glad that you two worked out!!
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    • deardebt says:

      It was interesting to go back and read it and remember how emotional it was. I thought it would never end. It was a sort of small daily torture. I’m glad it worked out as well and it’s over 🙂 Being together on a daily basis is so nice and we appreciate each other so much.

  4. Great post. Nicely done and thanks for sharing the story. I have not had a long-distance relationship. The longest that I have spent away from my now wife was a summer. We were only about 3 hours away from each other.
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  5. Today is day 6 of 6 months of the boyfriend being in Europe for work. It feels like an eternity. I’m desperately hoping I can save up enough money to take a trip out there in April.
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  6. Alicia says:

    I loved how real, and raw this post was. I cannot personally relate to it, but I’ve heard very similar things from friends over the years.

    Both of my closest friends had long distance relationships during grad school. I’m not saying how old you are should necessarily factor into it, but for both of them, when they were trying to establish themselves, those couples chose the distance and opportunity rather than settling.

    It definitely cost them financially because of the trips – and then the trips weren’t just “normal life” trips – they were always weekends away, or lots of social events. Thankfully both of those couples are now back in the same city… one after 2.5 years of distance, and one after 4 years of distance. It’s paid off for their careers, and I think they’re stronger couples for it, but boy was it hard on them during.
    Alicia recently posted…Credit Cards Revisited.My Profile

  7. This was so hard to read! Brings back the memories of when separated from Peach and moved to NYC. I did a lot of crying those first few nights. By now (over two years of long distance later) we’re old pros. It still hurts when we have to say good-bye, but everything settles back to normal much quicker than those early days. The biggest trick for us is to just to take it one day at a time and not put too much pressure on the future.
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  8. Nicely done DD 🙂 I’m glad you both were able to work things out through that difficult of times.

    I tried the long distance thing once and vowed to never do it again…although I definitely think that it takes two special people and a bond so strong that nothing can tear it apart. Obviously you and he had all that goin’ on!!

    Thanks again for a beautifully stated post.

    Take care and all the best.

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  9. E.M. says:

    This was such a sweet post! I have been in long-distance relationships before, but the entire relationship had been long-distance, so it’s a little different. I had discussed moving away briefly with my boyfriend when my parents moved, but he absolutely refuses to consider a long-distance relationship. Not that I wanted to move away from him at all (it was hard enough being away on vacation for a week), but at that time I wanted to leave my job, and didn’t want to wait for him to get promoted. Thankfully everything worked out with getting a new job and we can move together when the time comes.
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  10. megan says:

    I moved to Los Angeles from the tri-state area on June 1, 2010 as well. It is always hard leaving those you love. I hate thinking about it each time I go home, the what ifs. But taking a chance and hard work is always worth it in the end.

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