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Perfect Attendance

I’m a proud nerd, & I still love school. I cry when I’m forced to miss a day because I was sick. It was foreign to me how kids could fake being sick or dread going to school every day. I was proud of having perfect attendance, doing my homework, & completing my projects on time. Reflecting on my love of school recently made me see truancy in a new light.

If someone prefers to be absent, they obviously have their reasons. Maybe they have a bully, or maybe their parents shame them when they get bad grades. Maybe they actually want to like school, but they don’t have the resources to succeed. The choice to attend or not attend school is a simple decision for either side of the coin. Because you know when you love something or if you don’t. And that’s why I hate the proverb “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder

I know what I like & dislike, which is why I knew at a young age that I love school. Similar to my love of school, after a first date, I know whether or not I get good vibes. After three months, I can see myself entering into a real relationship & falling in love. Absence & distance do not make the heart grow fonder. Absence & distance is more of a test. Because remaining faithful & loyal to your partner when you’re directly next to them or not is love.

I’ve had three long-distance relationships so far, & all three of them were terrible. That’s why I succumbed to the notion that long-distance relationships will never work out. If you’re currently in a long-distance relationship, hopefully reflecting on my past mistakes will help you navigate your current circumstances.

My 1st Long-Distance Relationship

My 1st long-distance relationship was with my boyfriend from college, who lived in Southern California. The majority of the year we’d be together, living on-campus. But little did I know that over the Holidays & Summer, he secretly wanted to break up with me. And if you’re wondering, he NEVER expressed this issue in the two years that we were together.

In the end, he broke up with me a week before I started my Junior year. He decided that he wanted to start dating his co-worker. Already hanging out with her all Summer, he wanted to be a “good” guy & end things before cheating on me. He even phrased it ridiculously too. “Let’s just be best friends, who no longer date.” It wasn’t until almost a month after we broke up that I learned about the other woman. The last time we spoke, I asked him why he started dating me with no intentions of marrying me. He finally admitted that it was because I was the prettiest girl on campus, & he wanted a girlfriend.

What I Learned

Take Your Time

Our relationship had no foundation. We only knew each other for about one week before we became “official” boyfriend & girlfriend. Unlike me, he wasn’t dating with the expectation of getting married one day. He chose me so that he could have the prettiest girl on campus as his first girlfriend. Even though we did discuss getting married during the 2nd year of our relationship, it was probably only because I was still a virgin, & I was adamant about not wanting to sleep with him, because I always believed that I’d wait until I was married to lose my virginity.

I also didn’t even want the possibility of accidentally getting pregnant while I was still in college. Over time, it became apparent that he didn’t want to change his life around to include me in it. He didn’t see himself moving to the Bay Area, & I honestly didn’t want him to be the father of my children. Even after breaking up with me to start dating the other girl, he called me a few days later saying, “If things don’t work out, I hope that we can get back together.” At that time, I still didn’t know that he was already dating someone new, but I listened to my intuition & told him “NO” outright.

Let Go

If someone doesn’t want to be with me, they can go. I’m not willing to let someone break up with me, just to come back, because the grass actually wasn’t greener on the other side. He lied to me throughout our relationship. He continued to lead me on with his lies even after he broke up with me, because he didn’t know his new girlfriend very well either. If things didn’t work out, he wanted to keep me as his safety net.

When we got back to school, I considered staying friends with him, because we lived in the same dorm building & worked together on campus. But instead, the Universe clearly placed his new girlfriend in front of my face, so that I knew the truth. In the end, I walked away & cut him off for my own peace of mind. He never genuinely apologized to me or made any effort to be vulnerable & prove that I could learn to trust him, & I’m fine with that. I gave myself closure. I forgave them both for sneaking around behind my back, & I walked away, because he was not my person.

My 2nd Long-Distance Relationship

My 2nd long-distance relationship was with my boyfriend that I dated on & off, during my Senior year of college. We were on opposing Dance Teams in college. It was a classic Romeo & Juliet story. My Dance team’s president hated that I was spending so much time with him & his friends. I didn’t allow them to control me. It became my obsession to win Romeo’s heart just to spite my Dance team’s efforts to stop me. While my intentions, in the beginning, weren’t the best, I still fell in love with him.

I was a month away from graduating when he asked me on a real date & officially called me his girlfriend. I still had one more class to take over the Summer, then I moved back home to the Bay Area. Over the Summer & during the Holidays, we did great. It was only once I was back in the Bay Area & he was back in school that the trouble started.

Even though I would come to visit him often, I could tell that our relationship dynamic was changing. In the moments that we’d previously feel close & connected, I could tell that he was starting to detach from me. After a terrible Valentine’s Day weekend together, I dreamt about a giant carton of milk chasing me. After evaluating my dream, it became clear to me that he was “milking” me. He broke up with me a week later. Then, I found out that he was already pursuing a girl that I suspected he was interested in within days.

What I Learned

Enter into a relationship when you’re truly ready. Don’t waste your time with months of on & off again turmoil. If someone is being wishy-washy when committing to you, it’s a sign that they’re not ready or possibly still healing. You want to enter a new relationship when both of your hearts are healed & ready to love again. No matter how much he wanted to deny it, he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend.

Communicate when you feel your relationship’s dynamic shift. There’s likely a reason that one or both of you are refusing to address. If you want your relationship to last, you need to have honest communication. Even though his ex didn’t want to repeat their past & get back together, the entire time that we were together his eyes were still wandering non-stop with the goal of finding someone who he considered to be an “upgrade” from his ex. Finding my replacement was more important to him than nurturing our relationship & appreciating me.

Don’t Ignore the Red Flags

He had absolutely zero regard to how his selfishness would hurt me in the end. He liked one of his friends who had just broken up with her boyfriend, & he also started to nostalgically consider “what if” he decided to date the girl on his dance team that he was interested in before choosing to date me. I was NEVER a factor in his decision-making. He was too wrapped up in his ego & finding a new “hot” girl to make everyone, including his ex-girlfriend jealous. Even though he kept telling me that he “loved” me, from his actions alone, I knew he was lying.

If your boyfriend is emotionally cheating on you with other people & already looking for your replacement, he is not invested in you or your relationship. He also definitely does not love you no matter what words are coming out of his mouth. You are worthy of a partner who is committed & loyal to only you.

Don’t Settle

Do not settle for mistreatment just because you don’t want to be alone. Have the courage to love yourself more than anyone else & choose to be alone over someone who is clearly being unfaithful to you & treating you like an option. I ultimately forgave him for hurting me, took some time to heal my heart, & moved on. While we did remain friends for a few years, we don’t talk anymore. I can honestly say that I have closure. I learned everything that I needed to from him, & I have no intentions of going back ever again.

My 3rd Long-Distance Relationship

My 3rd long-distance relationship was only for 10 months with a sniper in the United States Marine Corps. I first met him at a party when I was still with my 2nd long-distance boyfriend. We didn’t talk much at all that night. I made it abundantly clear to him that I was in a happy relationship & only have eyes for my boyfriend. After my previous boyfriend & I broke up, I took four months to heal my heart. I then found out through the grapevine that he had a huge crush on me.

Since we barely interacted at the party, he didn’t have enough confidence to try & talk to me again. So on a whim, I decided to message him late one night on Facebook. In Japan at the time, I asked what time it was over there. Chatting for months before meeting again in person, I assumed a long-distance relationship would work out this time. But I was WRONG!

When home long enough for us to go on dates, trips, or staycations, our online chemistry was all we had. It hadn’t occurred to me that it’s easy to be witty online, especially with time to craft the perfect reply. While I figured we’d at least have some chemistry, the excitement of finally spending time together in person turned bleak. The tiny spark we had fizzled out quickly. The more I got to know him, the more I knew that I needed to break up with him.

What I Learned

It’s easy for anyone to be charming & witty online, but nothing compares to in-person chemistry. Talking to someone for a few days, weeks, or even months online actually means NOTHING. You still need to spend quality time with someone in-person to know who they are, how they act, & how they carry themselves on a daily basis. If you feel like punching yourself in the face or need to be drunk or high to tolerate them, because you NEVER have anything to talk about, take it as a huge red flag & end it. There was no way that I could settle with our relationship. It got to a point that even thinking about having to be intimate with him repulsed me, & it felt like ants were crawling all over my body when he tried to touch me.

When I love someone, I enjoy & want all forms of intimacy. I want deep conversations with a man who challenges me to be better & do better throughout my lifetime, throughout our marriage, & as we grow old together. I’m in love when I can’t keep my hands off of them, & I feel irresistible to them too.

I was overly ecstatic whenever he’d get deployed to the other side of the world. His sense of humor was confusing, & I hated not being able to genuinely laugh anymore. He was smothering & obsessed with me. I was so much happier when he was gone, & I was alone. It was suffocating when he’d ask to spend more quality time together. In the end, since I wasn’t interested in being intimate with him anymore, I wasn’t surprised when he went elsewhere to get it. In fact, I was actually relieved that I finally had a reason to end it, because I didn’t want to dump him while he was still deployed. I forgave him for the choices he made that lead to our break up, & I forgave myself for not being honest with him or myself to end it before it turned into a huge mess.

My Advice

To anyone already in or currently considering getting into a long-distance relationship with someone, here’s my final advice:

1. Know who they truly are in-person, so you know that you can actually go the distance together.

You can’t deny whether or not chemistry exists in a relationship. After you’ve spent enough time together, the spark between you either fizzles out, or it ignites into an uncontrollable, passionate dynamic relationship. Trust your intuition – it’s clear when you like someone or you don’t. Don’t bother wasting your time staying with someone that you don’t even like. People can choose to change their toxic behaviors & bad habits, but who someone is at their core, including their personality, hobbies, etc. will not change no matter how much you want them to.

2. Discuss how & when the distance between you will no longer affect your relationship.

You cannot be separated from someone you love forever. If you’re actually happier when you’re not together, that’s a huge clue that the relationship is already dead in the water. Two people who truly love each other will decide how to change their lives around so that they can be together & stay together for good. One or both of you must decide how to compromise, move in together, & create a life that works for both of you.

3. Choose to always love, be faithful, be loyal, & be committed to your partner whether there is distance between you or not.

Your partner’s absence should not be an excuse to do whatever you want. If your relationship is truly meant to go the distance, an ex or another person sliding into your DMs or flirting with you at a social event will not affect your connection. As I said before, distance is a test. If you value your relationship, you wouldn’t let any outside factors affect it.

Key Takeaways

In a lasting relationship, your partner will ask you to text them when you get home. When you forget, they call you to make sure that you’re home & safe. When traveling, you ensure that they know where you are & that you’re safe. You want to FaceTime or Snapchat them when it’s been too many days apart.

If you love your partner, reject new & old love interests out of respect. Be willing to warn friends to go easy on their compliments because you don’t want anything to be accidentally misconstrued. If you love & value your relationship, you won’t want anything to mess it up. Especially not by a friend from college who likes to call you “Boo” under every selfie to hype you up.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you need to create distance between you & your partner to make them love you. Two truly committed individuals will reject anyone & anything that tries to interfere with their connection. They don’t need excuses, loopholes, or exceptions. Long-distance or not, someone who loves you will always be there to love you the way you deserve. When the right person comes along, you “show up” for them, bringing a new meaning to perfect attendance.

XO Denise

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