Distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder

There’s a difference between independence and distance

Missing my partner doesn’t make me any less independent.  

From a young age, I vowed to never lose myself in a relationship. My greatest fear was to have a romantic partner chip away at my dreams until I was a watered-down image of sacrifice and devotion.

I equated committed relationships with a lack of individualism. I never even considered that a healthy partner could enhance my ambition while also being romantic and desirable.

Strangely, a long-distance relationship seemed like the perfect solution to my individualism complex—until I actually fell in love.

In all my romantic encounters, I rejected the term “girlfriend” and only spent time with my partners when it conveniently fit into my schedule. This was a defense mechanism from years of toxicity and emotional abuse that I laughed off with an “on and off” label.

Distance was the easiest way to get physical and emotional validation—yes, I’m a Leo—but also to protect the core of who I was. 

Now, long distance has become the only challenge to my relationship. This isn’t to say my boyfriend and I aren’t flawed and inherently opposed on certain issues, but that we navigate these issues with respect and honesty. 

Everything I had to beg previous partners to give to me is done willingly. I’m not as concerned about protecting my dreams because I know my partner sees the complex reality of my identity instead of perceiving me as a beautiful mirror to feed his ego.

I always accepted the idea that distance makes the heart grow fonder. But now, in the only healthy relationship I’ve ever had, I realize this mantra is flawed.

There’s a difference between independence and distance—between space and separation.

When we’re in the same place physically, I’m still able to take the space and time I know I need to work on myself and pursue my goals. It’s a balancing act of spending time together and allowing the other person to be autonomous.

Being with someone who’s aligned with my drive allows us to come together as a collective without being codependent.

Regardless of whether this relationship lasts, I now know there’s a possibility for me to be unapologetically myself while also being tied to someone else.

I’d never experienced the feeling of wanting to be around someone all the time, until I felt safe enough to be soft without the fear of being taken advantage of. On a subconscious level, I was rejecting every convention of women in relationships—generosity, warmth, and trust—without realizing these norms aren’t negative as long as I don’t lose myself in someone else.

I know if I told my 18-year-old self that I’m struggling to do long distance, she would laugh and tell me to get it together, but I’m slowly coming to terms with the idea that missing my boyfriend doesn’t make me less independent.

Phone calls and FaceTime can only do so much for two people whose love languages are physical touch and quality time—and I’m counting down the days until we can be in the same city together again.

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