Finding a partner that makes you feel at home is already hard enough, but to find him or her in the same city, country or even continent is even more of a challenge. Chiara, Beatrice and Camille have had very different kinds of long distance relationships, but they had one thing in common: they all were trying to grow separately without growing apart.
Chiara, an International Business student from Romania, had a long distance relationship with a Turkish guy, until she found out he also had a girlfriend in Istanbul.
When did you meet him?
‘I was doing my year abroad in Istanbul when we met at a party. He was one of the very few local people who gave me a lot of attention. He was always caring for me, trying to include me in conversations. His kindness and sensibility were the things I loved the most about him. He was constantly thinking of how I was feeling, he was not egocentric at all. He was always noticing when my mood was bad or when something was wrong. It was completely useless trying to hide something, he would discover it anyway.
‘He was the kind of boy with more female than male friends’
‘It was not my first relationship, neither his. We stayed together for one year and seven months, ten of those nineteen months we lived together in Turkey but then I moved back home. In those last months spent apart, I was really missing him, even though we talked every day on Zoom. Every evening, we met at half-past eight. And we always had something to talk about, which surprised me a lot. We were always talking and talking for hours, except for those pauses of five minutes when, in complete silence, I would stare at his image and he would stare at mine. But besides those evening calls, we were constantly in touch during the day too. It was our way to say “Hey, I am still here for you”.’
Have you ever been jealous of him?
‘Yes, a lot of times. He was the kind of guy with more female than male friends. And he was also very open and physical, always hugging and kissing everyone on the cheeks. When I saw how he behaved with his female friends, I got jealous and that feeling never really left me. Even when he would tell me “I am going out with some friends”, I would be like “okay”, but inside I was like “What the fuck, no!”‘
Why do you think he chose you over other people?
‘Mmhh… a super sad thing. In the beginning, I was used to thinking he liked me for my character, but then, when it was over, I started thinking he mostly just liked the idea of having an international girlfriend more than the girlfriend herself. Looking at his female friends in Istanbul, which were all super pretty and nice, I don’t see why he would have wanted to have a girlfriend living in another nation.’
What has been the gift he appreciated the most from you?
‘A key case, with ‘Take my breath away’ engraved in it. It was our song from the movie Top Gun. We were watching it when he told me “I love you” for the first time. We had been together for two months then, but at the time I didn’t feel like telling him the same. I needed more time to start loving him, but I really appreciated the situation, it was really nice and cute.
‘I don’t feel I could trust another person as I trusted him’
‘Then, when we met a year later at the airport, on Valentine’s Day, he gave me a letter – I am really into letters – and one of those roses in glass boxes. It wasn’t a real one, he told me that this way it would last for years and years, if not forever. I still have it now. But do I still believe in long-distance relationships? In total honesty, I do not feel I could have another one. I don’t feel I could trust another person as I did with him, and without trust, which is the foundation for a real relationship for me, I would be unhappy badly and would make the other person unhappy too.
‘Either you bring me with you, or you aren’t going’
‘However, I don’t regret having had one, because I got to know him, I think kinda well, and he will always remain one of the people I have shared many things with. On the other hand, I regret how it ended – it is bad to say – but because of him I have lost a lot of trust and I made a lot of stupid choices after. However, would I live that relationship all over again? Surely, the happy moments we shared are some of my most precious memories.’
How did your relationship come to an end?
‘This summer I bought two flight tickets to visit him for a month. I rented an Airbnb in Istanbul’s city center, so he could stay with me. But it is always really delicate to live together 24/7. So, after two weeks, we had a crazy fight for a very stupid thing – he wanted to go to a party with his friends and not me, but I didn’t want to stay alone all night in the Airbnb. I was being super dramatic, I said “Either you bring me with you, or you aren’t going” and from that point on, we brought out all the jealousy and the knots we had tried to solve in the previous months.
Right now, I don’t have anyone like him in my life, neither here in Groningen, nor back home
‘And then he suddenly said, “It’s all right, you are not the only one”… I was shocked. Before he left to the party, he told me about this other girl. We didn’t text during that night. The day after, stupid me, I was ready to forgive him everything. I called him back to my place, but he said – I will never forget that – “I live better without you”.
‘Right after that, I called my parents in tears, I bought a flight for the very next day. I have never heard anything from him again after that day. Do I miss him? Absolutely. Not only because he was my boyfriend, but I also miss him as a person. We were together every day, virtual or real. Every time I had a problem, I knew that it was alright because I knew that at the end of the day, I could talk about that with him. I don’t know how, but he always had his way to make me feel better, even when I had issues with my family, school, or anything else. Right now, I don’t have anyone like him in my life, neither here in Groningen, nor back home.’
Beatrice, a Biology student from Italy, has an American boyfriend and despite the huge distance and covid travel restrictions, they are still together.
How did you meet each other?
‘During an event for international students in my year abroad in Michigan, USA. I went there to socialize, and he was there too. He was super friendly, and he immediately included me in his life, which very few locals were willing to do. They already had their own groups of friends, so they weren’t really open to socializing with a European who would leave soon again.
‘I really trust him, and he says he trusts me as well, but I’m not sure he really does’
In the beginning, I didn’t know I liked him and that he liked me. We were simply really good friends, always going out together. And then one day we kissed…’
What is the most difficult thing to overcome in a long distance relationship?
‘You are not meeting daily or monthly, but you still have to keep the relationship active. If I wouldn’t be talking to him as often as I do, probably wouldn’t like him anymore. This is why I really care about talking to him daily with video calls and normal calls, which last one hour on average. Maybe not an hour straight every time, but several short calls during the day. Because obviously we both have different things to do and the time zone is different.’
Are you jealous?
‘No, I am not, because I know he would never do anything. I really trust him, and he says he trusts me as well, but I’m not sure he really does. More than anything else, he is afraid I will betray him. Would I ever? No. If I ever start liking someone else, I would first break up with him and then go with the other guy. But he always repeats this to me, he could never forgive me for that. And even though we would break up, I would never want him to hate me. Never.’
Was there ever a moment you two were really close to breaking up?
‘Yes, this past summer. When corona broke out in March, I hadn’t seen him since January. We didn’t know if we could meet in the summer. He told me he would surely come for Christmas, but I was thinking “Shit, it would mean a year without seeing each other”, so we almost broke up. But then luckily, we managed to meet in Ireland in August.
Sometimes I doubt, and I wonder if it’s all worth continuing. But I know that if we would break up, I would be so sad. I care too much about him, he is both my boyfriend and my best friend. Every problem I have, I write him. And if I lose him, I kinda lose everything. I am still open to new experiences, but at the moment, I do not know that many people, so it doesn’t make any sense to me to lose him. And I am not the person who would install Tinder or start conversations with strangers at parties. ‘
Camille, an International Business student, had a long distance relationship for one-and-a-half years, but broke up with him when she went to the Netherlands to study, because she wanted to start a new phase of her life.
How did you meet each other?
‘We met at a friend’s party, a birthday party, two years before we got together. We were just acquaintances until the month before I moved away from the city we both lived in. In the months before my departure, we used to see each other because we had mutual friends but nothing really serious, we were barely talking. Then in the month before my departure, we started talking every day on Instagram, and there we really hit it off. As the month ended, I left for a city six hundred kilometres away.’
What attracted you to him?
‘So, first his freaking biceps, those things were huuuge, and the fact that he was also smart and funny. And he was older than me, so I guess, he had the charm of being older. He was in his third year of university, while I was still in high school. Smartness and knowledge have always been something I found hot in guys. He was cute, smart, and funny, what else do you want?’
When apart, how did you keep the relationship alive?
‘With video calls, lots of video calls, and they were really fun. We would play games every night, like Pokémon or Facebook games. And also fantasizing about what to do when together again and making plans. Have there ever been times when I didn’t know how to keep the conversation going? No, not that I remember. He was my safe place, so he would be the first person I would write to with anything on my mind. And if there were no ways to get the conversation going, then we were comfortable enough with each other to be silent.’
Did you ever almost break up because of the distance?
‘Never to a break-up point because we enjoyed our relationship, until our distance tripled, because I moved to the Netherlands. But before that, when we were “only” six hundred kilometres apart, we were fine. When I had moments of melancholy, I would look at pictures of us, making videos, sending him long messages, or listening to songs that reminded me of him. The one by Shawn Mendes, Never Be Alone, that’s a big one.
‘Our relationship gave me more highs than lows, way more highs than lows’
‘Before I moved to the Netherlands, we were seeing each other like once per month or once every two months, and that was already strange. One thing is taking a train and another thing taking a plane, which is more expensive and more of a hassle. So we figured out it would be better to end it. And also, I felt, you know, moving to another country, building a new life, it was better not to have any ties to the past. So, after one and a half years, we decided to take different paths.’
Would you have another long-distance relationship?
‘No. Do I regret this one? Neither. Our relationship gave me more highs than lows, way more highs than lows. Would I relive the relationship with him? A hundred percent yes, all over again and again. The moments we were together were just too beautiful. But now I have set my Tinder range to one kilometer.’
Have you ever feared he would cheat on you?
No, I never feared that, because I am a firm believer that if he would cheat on me, it would be his loss. Also, we were texting every day, I was friends with his friends. No, I never had that fear. We had a really sweet and genuine relationship. There was a time when I surprised him in Rome and all the older people close to me, my parents and grandparents, were making fun of me. They were like “be careful to surprise him, you could find him cheating on you”. I just laughed at the idea, never believed it. And then when I arrived in Rome, I went to the bar he was in with his friends. He was sitting giving me his back. I tapped it. And as he turned, he was shocked. Then we started kissing for two minutes in front of everyone. That moment was beautiful. I still hold it dearly.’