The key to maintaining a long-distance relationship

Many people ask me how I make my long-distance relationship work. They look to me as if I'm Yoda and I have all of this Jedi wisdom for being in a relationship with the same person for a decade and eight of those years have been long-distance. I tell them that it just works, but in all honesty, it boils down to one fundamental quality we both share.

My boyfriend and I have been together more or less since high school. We've been through many growing pains over the years, but the one big thing we have in common is the desire to better ourselves. We constantly seek ways to learn more, engage more, and be more. We share the articles we read, the podcasts we listen to, and the things we hear with each other in an attempt to not only better ourselves, but to better each other as well. We are growing together even though there are miles and miles between us. In my opinion, this is the single most important reason why our relationship works. We both want to grow and have given each other the room to do so.

Not to say that long-distance relationships are easy. Far from it. It's gut-wrenching to say goodbye knowing that it'll be another two-four months before we say hello again. It's also hard to fully enjoy our time together because we know we have to say goodbye yet again in a few days. Add in a couple of time zones and it can be very difficult to stay connected.

Another thing that has the potential to throw a monkey-wrench in our relationship is the fact that we're both doing completely different things right now. He is living in Arizona working through his master's program, while I am living in Maine working a regular 9-5 job and exploring the East coast in my free time. His days are structured and focused, mine are full of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants adventures. Our lives couldn't be more different right now, but we're both making ourselves better. The structure may be different, but we're still learning all the same.

There are a lot of reasons why this relationship "shouldn't" work, but it does. It works because we're both doing our own things. It wasn't always this way though. There was a time when he was going off on adventures, while I was still bumming around in our hometown trying to figure out what I wanted. It was painful to see him go off and leave me behind.  I had nothing to get excited about, nothing to focus on other than his absence.  

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Then I fell in love with Maine and decided to have my own adventure. I still miss him, of course, but now that I'm doing my own thing I'm no longer sitting around waiting for my adventure to begin. It's here now. I'm living it every day. 

I wouldn't be the person I am today without his constant support. He has always been in my corner cheering me on with anything I've ever wanted to do. On the verge of gushing, I'll just say that he's a great guy and I'm very happy he's in my life. 

We do have plans to close the loop on our eight years of long-distance by next summer. We're not sure where our next adventure will take us, it depends on which graduate school he gets into, but I know we're going to have a blast getting there.